Carousell connects buyers and sellers on Singapore streets

I slowly walked out of the MRT station and looked around. Standing in front of 7-eleven was a man with a shoe box in his hand. I reached into my pocket, took out  my phone and pretended to be busy while I subtly approached him.

Senior Lauren Chan messaging a Carousell seller. Photo by Jihan Chung.
Senior Lauren Chan messaging a Carousell seller. Photo by Jihan Chung.

When I got close, he asked, “Are you Jihan?” I answered yes and reached into my wallet. I gave  him $70 and he promptly passed me the shoe box with the Nike Koston X Heritage. It all went down exactly as we had agreed it would.

This is a typical exchange between a buyer and a seller through the phone app Carousell. Carousell is a person-to-person mobile marketplace that sells everything from Abercrombie shirts to vintage artifacts that can be either new or second hand. To sell, you simply take a picture of the item, put a brief description regarding the item and name a price that you feel is fair. To buy, you choose a category of items, scroll through or search what you are looking for and chat up the seller via messaging. After all that, the buyer and the seller meet up at an agreed-upon location to complete their transaction.

The advantages of Carousell are clear. Living in a place like Singapore, the choice of clothing and other accessories can be very limited. Carousell breaks such barriers by allowing sellers from overseas to put out foreign items that may not be for sale locally. On top of that, prices can be 80% off retail prices and be negotiable on this mobile market.

“The amount of times I have benefited from Carousell is actually pretty insane,” senior Justin Peterson said. “Like last week, I bought a bunch of shirts for a decently cheap price.”

Carousell is unique in that it directly connects the buyer and seller. Unlike other online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, Carousell has no shipping fees or wait time – everything is done locally. It is fair to say that the most appealing characteristic of Carousell is its simplicity and accessibility.

Craigslist logo. CC License.
Craigslist logo. CC License.

Some may compare this app to Craigslist, an advertisement website devoted to jobs, housing, and personal items. However, Carousell is more effective in what it does. Unlike Craigslist, Carousell solely puts its focus on personal items and goods. Also, Craigslist provides a very wide range of items for sale, opening it up to more dangers.

With almost no restraint on what kind of items can be on sale, Craigslist can be very helpful, yet very risky at the same time, while Carousell sets restrictions on what can be sold. For example, alcohol, human body parts and drugs aren’t able to be sold on its mobile marketplace.

Like everything else, however, Carousell does have its downsides. Although this app may sound ideal in the beginning, Carousell is potentially dangerous in the meeting-up aspect between the buyer and the seller. It is  possible that some of these sellers and buyers could be shady and have other intentions rather than simply completing a transaction. Senior student Abhi Iyer said, “I have mixed feelings about Carousell. Not sure if I can trust everyone to be trustworthy.”

Being a user of Carousell myself, I can say that Carousell has more than worked out for me. Instead of having to physically go out and spend hours looking for what I want, I can lie on my bed and scroll through the list of goods that Carousell has to offer. And I find things on Carousell that I have never seen in big Singaporean markets such as Orchard ION and Takashimaya.

Senior Gabriel Goh's Carousell profile on the web. Picture by Jihan Chung.
Senior Gabriel Goh’s Carousell profile on the web. Picture by Jihan Chung.

My meet-ups with sellers have also been  completely professional: everyone has been well-mannered and on time. Each time there is a successful transaction, the seller and the buyer can get an upvote to guarantee other future buyers and sellers that it is safe to trade with them, which can serve as a motivation for people on Carousell to be respectful and act in a cordial manner.

Carousell is a broad online marketplace on the mobile app store that allows everyone to find whatever they want for a very affordable price. It is quick, easy to use and convenient when it comes to buying and selling. If you are looking to be fancy this winter break, Carousell may be the place to go.

Author: Jihan Chung

Jihan Chung is a senior and a video journalist for the Eye. This is his third on staff, and he says he most enjoys filming interviews. He is on the Eagles Varsity Swimming team. He can be contacted at chung30602@sas.edu.sg .

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