Singapore’s Marketplaces: Carousell vs Gumtree vs Shopee

Southeast Asia is fast experiencing an e-commerce boom. In Singapore, it has been estimated that the e-commerce market would be valued at more than US$5.4 billion by 2025, an increase of more than US$4 billion from 2015. The ubiquity of smartphones has further allowed for the proliferation of mobile commerce applications in the market as the digital society today demands for mobility, efficiency and convenience in their purchase of goods. Carousell, Gumtree and Shopee are just a few of the consumer-to-consumer (C2C) mobile marketplace companies that have set foot in Singapore’s rapidly expanding mobile commerce market.

About Carousell
Carousell is a consumer to consumer (C2C) e-commerce company that launched in Singapore since May 2012, touted to be the first in the market that focuses on a mobile-centred C2C marketplace experience. Priding itself as a community marketplace, Carousell’s mobile application brings convenience and accessibility for a user to purchase or sell their new or preloved items by simply using their smartphone devices. Carousell caters to a wide range of product categories that can be sold, including beauty products, books, lifestyle gadgets, baby products and even cars!

Available for both the iPhone and Android smartphones, it currently operates in more than 15 countries across the world such as Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia and the United States. With more than 8 million listings available and an average of 8 transactions happening on its app per minute, Carousell presently dominates the mobile marketplace scene in Singapore.

Services and Popular Features
1) List your items in just 30 seconds
Carousell claims that the simplicity of its app allows a user to list their items in just 30 seconds. Sellers can easily snap or upload a picture and write out a description of the item that they are selling. Once uploaded, the listing can also be shared on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Buyers can easily search for an item through the Instagram-styled listing layout or a specific keyword search. Users are also able to communicate directly with the seller via the in-app chat application.

2) No extra charges
Carousell does not impose any listing fees or additional charges. It also does not take any form of commission from the items sold on its app. Users are thus free to sell and buy as many items as they please.

3) Carousell Groups
Users are able to join groups which cater to people with similar interests, allowing them to buy or sell items that are more specific to their interests or tastes.

4) Campus Marketplaces
These marketplaces are school or campus-specific with each school or campus having its own marketplace. Access to the marketplace is only limited to students who are members of the school (the school’s email address is required for verification), providing exclusivity for students who intend to only buy or sell an item among their schoolmates.

5) Country-specific
Unlike traditional e-commerce companies, listings on the Carousell app are limited to only members within the same country. This limits the hassle, costs and risks from dealing with buyers or sellers who are based overseas.

Payment Options
Payment is directly done between the buyer and the seller. Carousell is not involved in the payment process. The chat function in the app only serves to facilitate the communication process between the buyer and the seller on how payment should be made between them. Payment for purchases is typically done via cash (when items require meet-ups for exchange) or bank transfers (when items are mailed or delivered by a courier service).

Carousell is currently backed by major international investors such as Rakuten Ventures, Golden Gate Ventures and 500 Startups. More recently, it has received a US$6 million funding from Sequoia Capital in 2014.

About Gumtree Singapore
Gumtree is a free online classified advertisements website that began in London in March 2000 and has since span across 76 cities in 11 countries including Singapore. Gumtree Singapore is one of the largest classified ads websites in the country with one million page views per day and more than 10 000 new listings posted daily.

While predominantly a web-based platform, the launch of Gumtree Singapore’s mobile app in September 2014 marks Gumtree’s global mobile strategy initiative in response to the increasing importance of the mobile commerce market. This is after successive launches in other markets such as Australia and the United Kingdom. Available for both Android and iPhone devices, Gumtree Singapore’s mobile app currently has more than 500 000 downloads from the Google Play Store, fast rising to become one of the major competitors of Carousell.

Services and Popular Features
1) A more expansive range of categories
Not only does the Gumtree Singapore app provide a platform for users to sell their new or second-hand items, it also allows for the listing of properties, jobs, pet adoptions and community and business services such as language lessons and photobooth services. This may place Gumtree ahead of its competitors which typically have a limited number of categories available due to their primary focus on facilitating the sale of new or preloved items between users.

2) Personalised homepage
Unlike its web-based version, the Gumtree Singapore app provide users with a personalised homepage with recommendations of items or services based on their previous browsing patterns. Users are also able to communicate directly with the seller via phone (if provided), email or the in-app chat application.

3) No extra charges
Similar to its competitors, Gumtree Singapore does not impose any listing fees, commission fees, or any additional charges for items or services that are listed on the app. However, a user may opt to boost their listing’s visibility on the web version of Gumtree by paying a sum ranging from SGD$1.99 to SGD$20.00 (price is determined by the nature of the listing).

4) Country-specific
Posting of listings on Gumtree Singapore are only limited to users within the same country.

Payment Options
Gumtree Singapore is not involved in the payment process between the buyer and the seller. Payment is directly done between the buyer and the seller. Payment for purchases is typically done via cash (when items require meet-ups for exchange) or bank transfers (when items are mailed or delivered by a courier service).

About Shopee
Shopee is a Singapore-based mobile marketplace startup that soft-launched in Singapore in June 2015. Aiming to create an experience that is simple, fast and secure for both buyers and sellers, it is the first mobile marketplace app in Singapore that integrates with logistical and payment providers within its system.

Part of Garena, a leading mobile digital content and online PC provider, Shopee has currently expanded its operations within the Asian region, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan. With more than 26 million listings currently active and a user base of 13 million across the region, Shoppe is poised to become one of the major players in the mobile commerce market.

Services and Popular Features
1) Shopee supported logistics partners
Unlike other mobile marketplace companies where delivery options are typically limited by what the seller is able to provide, Shopee users are provided with an option to have their items delivered by Shopee’s supported logistics partners. This will allow the user to keep track of their shipment directly within Shopee’s app. More traditional delivery options such as mailing or meetups are still available if the user chooses to do so.

2) Shopee Guarantee
This is another unique feature of Shopee. By having a secure payment system within the app itself, Shopee Guarantee is able to protect buyers from fraudulent sellers by withholding the payment to sellers until the buyer is able to confirm that the item purchased has been received. Sellers are also protected by Shopee Guarantee as buyers are required to make payment as confirmation of their purchase. This ensures that buyers do not back out from the deal at the last minute.

3) Other features
Shopee’s app integrates some of the best features that are found in social media sites. These include the ability to ‘follow’ sellers for their latest listings, search for listed items through hashtags, and the ability to share the listings to other social media sites. Buying and selling of items on Shopee are limited to users within the same country. Shopee also does not charge any listing or commission fees.

Payment Options
With Shopee Guarantee, buyers are able to purchase their item directly via the payment system within the app. This ensures that buyers are protected from potential fraudulent sellers. Supported payment methods include credit/debit card, bank transfers or cash on delivery.

Although Carousell remains the dominant leader in the mobile marketplace scene in Singapore, it faces stiff competition from other mobile C2C marketplace companies such as Gumtree Singapore and Shopee that have been able to differentiate themselves from Carousell by offering unique features and services. While the growing importance of the mobile commerce market would mean that more mobile-focused marketplace companies are expected to join in the competition, consumers should rejoice as there will soon be more options and variability for them when choosing a mobile marketplace.