#Asia Carousell aims to stand out by tackling over-consumerism in the developed world


The VP of Carousell’s international operations Jia Jih Chai explains why the marketplace will stand out from other e-commerce players


Jia Jih Chai, Carousell VP International

The battle for e-commerce supremacy in Asia has been heating up in recent years; several players are already losing ground as competitors with bigger war chests seek to cannibalise the markets.

In April 2016, Alibaba gobbled up Lazada with a billion-dollar buyout. In the same month, Zalora hung up its fashion portal because of it was unprofitable.

These developments may spell bad omens for any e-commerce portal seeking to expand regionally, but Jia Jih Chai, Carousell‘s VP of international expansion and growth — who also previously headed regional expansion for Airbnb — is unfazed. e27 speaks to him in an interview to find out why.

How to stand out in a saturated space

E-commerce marketplaces such as Lazada, Zalora, Qoo10 and Taobao are essentially big retailers designed to maximise consumer spending per visit. But Carousell doesn’t just entice the consumer to spend, it is providing the tools to help them do the opposite.

“The difference between us and Lazada and Zalora is that we are an online classifieds marketplace. We are helping to solve a very specific problem; if you have something extra at home you need to sell, you can sell it on Carousell. Very few marketplaces actually allow you to do that, especially on mobile,” says Chai.

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But the online classifieds sector is far from nascent. Craigslist and eBay have been around for ages, and both are available on mobile too. So how does Carousell address this? Chai believes usability plays an important role here.

“The way we look at it, there are two things that matter – are these platforms really mobile first, and does it really addresses the needs of a generation who has never used eBay/Craigslist to sell? One in two sellers that we checked — through informal asking — have never sold online, Carousell has actually has helped them accomplish in a much easier way,” he says.

Facing off threats from bigger e-commerce players

As Carousell sees itself as delivering a different value proposition from most e-commerce marketplaces, Chai is not wary of any trends in the space.

“The e-commerce space may be highly competitive, but many of them are all about pushing new products to you. Very few companies would help you sell as a result of over-consumption. We are trying to solve the reserve problem, we have enough stuff in this world – so how do you sell the stuff that you don’t need and only retain the ones meaningful to you? It’s a very different problem we are trying to solve here,”  Chai reiterates.

Remaining sustainable

Carousell may face lesser competition than its other e-commerce peers, and it may be able to achieve healthy user growth, but the question of sustainability still remains; no e-commerce marketplace can remain solvent in the long run without building a model for profitability.

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“Sustainability in the long run is important, but monetisation in the near term is not a priority now. It is about growth in new markets. Once we have achieved that, and have some liquidity in these markets, we plan to charge for the publishing of these ads in more mature markets,” says Chai.

Chai is projecting implementing this feature in five years time. In the near term goals, expansion to other regional markets (both developed and emerging) is in the works.

Challenges going forward

As the company grows and expands, Chai believes the biggest challenge will be hiring consistently quality talent across the board.

“It is important to find good talent who believes in the vision and challenge. We will need more people who not only have the skillsets, but are also passionate, independent and driven,” he says.

Another issue to tackle would be localisation.

“Since most of the content is user-generated, we need to build a community who speaks the right language in each market. Thankfully, because we operate as a classifieds model, we do not have to worry about payments and other complexities that come with e-commerce.”

Image Credit: Carousell Indonesia


The post Carousell aims to stand out by tackling over-consumerism in the developed world appeared first on e27.

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