Updated with interview with Siu Rui Quek of Carousell and Sanjay Shivkumar of Carousell Motors.
Back in October, Carousell announced its acquisition of car classifieds startup Caarly.
Seen as a move to gain leadership in the car classifieds vertical, and also to forward their aim to be the “world’s number 1 classifieds marketplace”, the acquisition saw the Caarly team and their automotive products coming on board the Carousell family.
Users of Caarly and their listings were also effectively shifted over to the Carousell app under the Cars category.
Said Siu Rui Quek, co-founder and CEO of Carousell then, “This acquisition makes Carousell the best place for users to find exactly what they need when they’re looking for a new or preloved car, and also paves the way for our monetisation strategy as high value verticals will be a key revenue driver for us.”
It seems like they have now taken an even bigger step towards that end goal.
Introducing Carousell Motors
Today (28 Feb), brand new car marketplace Carousell Motors has been launched, aiming to make “car buying and selling easier [and] help aspiring car owners make the best decision possible by providing reliable, transparent and easily accessible information on used cars in Singapore”.
Users can search for cars via their make, model, dealers, or use quick filters including financing options and car depreciation to find what they need.
Users can also save their favourites, compare car options at a glance, and chat directly with verified dealerships. Listings on Motors would also be made available on Carousell’s general classifieds marketplace.
Said Quek, “Many (car buyers) feel that current sites are cumbersome to navigate, without sufficient information and choices to make good decisions, and the industry is fraught with distrust. The spike in growth of Carousell’s Cars category over the last few months is a signal to us that people are looking for more quality choices, and credible information from trustworthy sellers.”
“We believe a dedicated app for serious car buyers will give them a more personalised and breezier car shopping experience, and bring greater value to our community.”
Sanjay Shivkumar, Head of Carousell Motors adds, “By constantly innovating and using the latest technology to make car buying and selling enjoyable, we are well-positioned to disrupt current industry offerings and become the top cars classifieds in Singapore.”
Carousell Motors: For Serious Buyers And Sellers
But with a standalone marketplace – a first for the startup – comes many questions.
Why a brand new platform instead of leveraging on the current user base of Carousell? How does this potentially further their monetisation strategy? How would listings be verified? Are there more verticals that they would develop apps for?
We got into a call with both Siu Rui and Sanjay, and found out more:
Why a separate app? There’s already an existing Cars category – why not leverage on the strong follower base you already have on the main app?
Siu Rui (SR): A quarter year ago, we started working closely with the Caarly team after they joined the Carousell family, and since then, […] they’ve been working hard at serving the car dealerships and growing the supply of used cars with Carousell. In tandem with that, we saw that the demand for used cars also increased, and in Carousell, [given that] we have a very strong community focus, we spent a lot of time talking to our users and understanding how we could serve them better.
So over and over, we heard from the serious car buyers that for an expensive product with high involvement like a car, people would prefer to have a great experience to sift out cars, so [the cars are] sorted by depreciation, model, and so on, and that was when we decided that we needed a dedicated experience for car buyers, and that was the inspiration for Carousell Motors – it’s a one-stop portal for serious car buyers and sellers.
Are you planning to have separate apps for other verticals in the future?
SR: That’s a great question! At Carousell, our principle focus is building great products and great experiences, and that’s how we ended up getting into Carousell Motors, because we started getting feedback that for cars, you actually needed a much more dedicated experience.
[Having] facilitated tens of millions of transactions, [we find that] the other categories have been well-served by the main Carousell app, so I think the short answer is that we’re going to be focused on Carousell Motors now, because that’s the one vertical that has shown a need for it.
How exactly are you going to entice users to download another app?
Sanjay (SJ): We still think there’s a lot of space on mobile, and there are many other apps to be downloaded, but Carousell Motors is basically targeted at very serious car buyers and sellers, so what you see on the app is really targeted to the general population, but it is designed to offer the best experience for those looking at buy and sell cars.
So for us, downloading the app is not for the general public, but for people who are real shoppers.
As for how we are going to acquire our consumers, [we would be growing] our Carousell Motors community, which might be different from the general Carousell community themselves. We’ll be organising meet ups with the motoring communities in Singapore so as to build relationships, trust, and a stronger community network.
I realised that the Motors app looks pretty similar to the main Carousell app – was it a conscious decision to keep the interface somewhat similar?
SJ: I think for branding purposes, it’s always good to have consistency across two different apps, but for us as car buyers, we built the product mainly for ourselves as we faced much frustration when we were buying our own cars, so while the style looks similar to the main app, the features in Motors are really targeted at those looking to effectively and efficiently buy and sell cars.
[…] We also let our drivers “snap, list and sell”, [so they can] list a car in less than 10 seconds, but we still [ensure that it] can retain very detailed information that a car buyer would want to know.
Is there any form of verification that will be put in place to ensure that the information is accurate?
SJ: As for verification systems, we basically get very detailed information because they are adding their cars, [the makes] and models, and [as for the] verified dealers, they always provide very strong and accurate information, because they have a very strong motivation to sell their cars.
In general, we do police Carousell Motors to make sure that listings are [of high] quality and are specific for car buyers. […] Having said that, since we’re a classifieds platform, we always encourage car buyers to arrange for test drives and inspect the car in person.
When you reached out to the dealerships, were they also very excited about the platform?
SJ: They were definitely excited, because they know that consumers, especially the younger ones, are living their lives on mobile, and no other players at this stage really pay a lot of attention on mobile.
The dealers are definitely keeping up with the times, and are putting their businesses on mobile.
What is your monetisation strategy for Motors, and are you going to charge a fee to use it?
SJ: For registered car dealerships who are looking to list their used cars, we do have premium services and tools available. These tools not only help them to increase visibility of their products, we also have a B2C product that helps them to manage their inventory, and in whole, closes a loop of managing the inventory and also increasing sales.
For the consumer and individual car sellers, there’ll be a small fee for listing their personal cars. [The reason why we are] introducing the fees is because we want to ensure that only serious car sellers are listing their cars for sale.
How much is the fee for listing your personal car?
SJ: It will be $9 – the promo price is $9.
Would there be a feedback system similar to the main Carousell app?
SJ: Yes, we do feel that the feedback system is very important, and it’s definitely something on the pipeline […] to introduce a feedback system as a trust element in the marketplace.
What are your hopes for the app?
SJ: For now, we definitely just really want to build the best product with the best experience for shoppers, building up the Carousell Motors and community […] and from a business point of view, we hope to be the number one mobile classifieds for cars in Singapore and then the region.
SR: We’re very excited to be doing what we did with Carousell 4 and a half years ago. If you really look at the car classifieds phase, there’s nothing really built for a mobile experience, and that was exactly the same situation 4 and a half years ago with classifieds.
We believe the future is mobile, and we are going to be very much focused on building the best mobile classifieds experience for cars as well.
We thank Siu Rui and Sanjay for their time!