How Does Carousell Make Money? The Carousell Business Model In A Nutshell

  • Carousell is a smartphone and web-based C2C and B2C platform founded in Singapore by Quek Siu Rui, Lucas Ngoo, and Marcus Tan. After the trio completed an internship in Silicon Valley, they became inspired by leaders such as Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey.
  • Carousell makes money by connecting buyers and sellers and then acting as a mediator, advertiser, and payment facilitator. Advertising is the biggest source of income, with sellers bidding to occupy high visibility spots using in-app currency Carousell Coins.
  • Carousell charges sellers a listing fee for products in high-value categories. It also sells subscription plans to sellers giving them access to higher product quotas and business analytics, among other perks.
Business Model ElementAnalysisImplicationsExamples
Value PropositionCarousell’s value proposition focuses on providing a user-friendly platform for buying and selling a wide range of new and secondhand items. For Sellers, Carousell offers: – Free Listings: The ability to post ads without incurring fees. – Wide Audience: Access to a large and diverse user base. – Easy Posting: A simplified process for creating and managing listings. For Buyers, Carousell provides: – Vast Selection: A broad variety of products and services. – Cost Savings: Potential to find deals and save money. – Local Convenience: Buying from nearby sellers for easy pickups. Carousell’s value proposition centers on simplicity, accessibility, and cost-effectiveness for both buyers and sellers.Offers a user-friendly platform for buying and selling a wide range of items. Provides free ad listings without additional fees. Ensures access to a large and diverse user base. Attracts both buyers and sellers with its simplified posting process. Offers a wide variety of products and services for buyers. Facilitates cost savings and local convenience for buyers.– Free ad listings remove financial barriers for sellers, encouraging listings. – A large user base increases the likelihood of successful transactions. – Vast product variety appeals to diverse consumer needs. – Cost savings attract budget-conscious buyers.
Customer SegmentsCarousell serves two primary customer segments: 1. Sellers: Individuals and small businesses looking to post advertisements for products and services. 2. Buyers: Individuals and bargain hunters seeking to purchase items locally. Carousell customizes its platform to cater to the unique needs of both segments. Sellers can easily create and manage listings, while buyers can browse a diverse range of products and services. The local focus ensures efficient transactions within communities.Serves two main customer segments: 1. Sellers posting ads for products and services. 2. Buyers seeking to make local purchases. Customizes the platform to meet the specific needs of each segment. Provides tools for sellers and a wide range of listings for buyers. Focuses on local transactions for efficient buying and selling.– Catering to two customer segments creates a balanced marketplace. – Tailoring the platform enhances user satisfaction and engagement.
Distribution StrategyCarousell’s distribution strategy is primarily digital and internet-based. Users access the Carousell platform through the company’s website and mobile app, available on smartphones and tablets. Sellers can easily post ads, and buyers can browse listings, communicate with sellers, and arrange transactions through the app. Carousell also utilizes search engine optimization (SEO) to ensure that its website ranks well in search engine results, increasing its online visibility. Additionally, the platform uses email notifications and social media to engage with users and promote listings.Relies on a digital and internet-based distribution strategy. Offers access through the Carousell website and mobile app. Facilitates ad posting, browsing, and transactions through the app. Utilizes SEO for enhanced online visibility in search engine results. Engages with users through email notifications and social media to promote listings.– Digital and internet-based distribution aligns with the widespread use of smartphones for online activities. – SEO efforts enhance platform visibility and attract users. – Email notifications and social media engagement drive user engagement and listing promotions.
Revenue StreamsCarousell generates revenue primarily through premium ad listings and promoted ads: 1. Premium Ad Listings: Sellers can pay for premium ad listings to enhance their visibility and reach more potential buyers. 2. Promoted Ads: Sellers can promote their ads to appear prominently in search results and browse pages. These revenue streams contribute to the platform’s income. Carousell may also offer other optional services for a fee, such as ad enhancements and ad reposts.Relies on revenue streams from: 1. Premium ad listings for enhanced visibility. 2. Promoted ads to appear prominently in search results. Offers optional services like ad enhancements and reposts for additional fees. Diversifies income sources through premium listings, promoted ads, and optional services.– Premium ad listings offer enhanced visibility and attract sellers looking to boost their ads. – Promoted ads provide sellers with increased visibility in search results. – Optional services generate additional income while providing value to sellers.
Marketing StrategyCarousell’s marketing strategy includes digital marketing, content creation, community engagement, and partnerships. The company uses digital marketing channels, including online advertising and email campaigns, to reach potential sellers and buyers. Content creation involves producing blog posts, tutorials, and guides to educate users and enhance the platform’s appeal. Carousell actively engages with its community through social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to maintain a strong online presence and foster user engagement. The company also forms partnerships with payment providers and logistics companies to enhance the user experience.Utilizes digital marketing, content creation, community engagement, and partnerships for marketing. Employs digital channels for online advertising and email campaigns. Produces educational content like blog posts and tutorials to engage users. Actively engages with the community through social media platforms. Forms partnerships with payment providers and logistics companies for a seamless user experience.– Digital marketing channels reach potential sellers and buyers effectively. – Educational content establishes Carousell as a valuable resource. – Community engagement fosters a strong online community and maintains an active user base. – Partnerships enhance the user experience and facilitate transactions.
Organization StructureCarousell’s organizational structure includes teams dedicated to product development, technology, marketing, customer support, and partnerships. Product development and technology teams focus on enhancing the platform’s features and user experience. Marketing teams promote Carousell’s services and engage with the user community. Customer support teams assist users with inquiries and issues. Partnerships teams collaborate with payment providers and logistics companies to enhance the platform’s capabilities. This structure supports innovation, user satisfaction, and ecosystem growth.Employs specialized teams for product development, technology, marketing, customer support, and partnerships. Enhances platform features and user experience through product development and technology teams. Promotes services and community engagement through marketing teams. Assists users with inquiries and issues via customer support teams. Collaborates with payment providers and logistics companies through partnerships teams. Supports innovation, user satisfaction, and ecosystem growth.– Specialized teams ensure a user-friendly platform with evolving features. – Marketing teams drive user engagement and community growth. – Customer support enhances the user experience and trust in the platform. – Partnerships expand the platform’s ecosystem and capabilities.
Competitive AdvantageCarousell’s competitive advantage lies in its simplicity, accessibility, and local focus. The platform’s straightforward and free listing process encourages ad postings, attracting a wide variety of sellers. The local focus ensures that buyers can find products and services nearby, promoting efficient transactions. Carousell’s user-friendly interface and cost-effective approach make it an appealing choice for both buyers and sellers in the online marketplace.Derives a competitive advantage from: – Simplicity and user-friendliness of the platform. – Free ad listings without added fees. – A local focus for efficient local transactions. Attracts a wide variety of sellers and a diverse range of listings. Promotes cost-effective buying and selling for users. Appeals to both budget-conscious buyers and sellers looking to reach local audiences.– A straightforward and free listing process encourages ad postings. – A local focus promotes convenience and efficient transactions. – User-friendly interface attracts a diverse user base.



The History of Carousell

Carousell is a smartphone and web-based C2C and B2C multinational company headquartered in Singapore.

The company was founded in 2012 by Quek Siu Rui, Lucas Ngoo, and Marcus Tan after the trio attended an internship in Silicon Valley.

There, they became inspired by leaders such as Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey who preached the importance of mission-oriented companies.

The former college friends were also encouraged to think about how technology could be used to solve big problems.

Quek took this notion and ran with it, envisioning a platform that simplified online buying and selling.

Importantly, the platform also needed to be aligned with Carousell’s broader mission to “inspire every person in the world to start selling.

The Carousell iOS app was launched in August 2012 with the Android version following in January the following year.

To gain traction, the founders visited mom-and-pop stores in person and convinced them to sell on their platform. In November 2013, Carousell secured around $800,000 in angel funding.

Less than three years later, Carousell was operating in Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

This coincided with the eCommerce boom in Southeast Asia and several acquisitions, which enabled the platform to grow rapidly.

Recent data on company performance is hard to come by. However, two years ago the company was operating in 40 countries and claimed to be reaching over 350 million users each month.

Carousell revenue generation

Carousell utilizes a marketplace business model like many of its peers, with listing, advertising, and payment facilitation fees commonplace. 

The company essentially connects buyers and sellers and then acts as a mediator and payment facilitator.

Below is a look at each revenue stream in more detail.


According to Carousell, its main source of income are three advertising packages it offers to product sellers and various brands.

These are used to drive traffic to product listings, grow reach, and increase views through enhanced visibility. 

Advertisement pricing depends on the niche, location, and existing competition for the product being promoted. 

Each of the three packages can be purchased with the in-app currency Carousell Coins. Discounts are offered to sellers who buy coins in bulk.

Listing fees

The first listing for a seller is free, but certain high-value categories like properties and automobiles will attract a listing fee.

In general, listing fees vary by country, category, and the length of time a product is listed. These fees can also be paid with Carousell Coins.

Carousell for Business

Carousell for Business, or CarouBiz for short, is a suite of premium tools offered to sellers on a subscription basis.

Prices for four different subscription plans vary according to country and the product listing quota.

As an example, the prices for Singaporean sellers are as follows:

  1. Starter CarouBiz ($9.98/month) – with a quota of 20 or more products able to be sold simultaneously. 
  2. Growing CarouBiz ($29.98/month) – with a quota of 120 or more products. Sellers choosing this plan and all subsequent plans also get access to a premium seller badge and business analytics. 
  3. Pro CarouBiz ($69.98/month) – for those wanting to sell more than 470 products.
  4. Super CarouBiz ($99.98/month) – offering a quota of at least 1,970 products.

Key Highlights

  • C2C and B2C Platform: Carousell is a multinational smartphone and web-based platform that facilitates consumer-to-consumer (C2C) and business-to-consumer (B2C) transactions.
  • Founding and Inspiration: Founded in Singapore in 2012 by Quek Siu Rui, Lucas Ngoo, and Marcus Tan. Their inspiration came from leaders like Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey, focusing on technology-driven solutions for big problems.
  • Mission-Oriented Approach: Carousell’s mission is to inspire people worldwide to start selling. The platform aims to simplify online buying and selling.
  • Rapid Expansion: Launched in 2012, Carousell quickly expanded across multiple countries, including Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
  • Revenue Generation Model:
    • Advertising: Carousell’s main income source is advertising packages offered to sellers and brands. These packages enhance visibility, increase reach, and drive traffic to product listings. Advertising pricing varies based on niche, location, and competition. Carousell Coins are used to purchase these packages.
    • Listing Fees: While the first listing for a seller is free, high-value categories like properties and automobiles incur a listing fee. Fees vary by country, category, and listing duration, and can also be paid with Carousell Coins.
    • CarouBiz Subscription: Carousell offers CarouBiz, a suite of premium tools for sellers on a subscription basis. Subscription plans have varying quotas and pricing tiers. Subscribers gain access to features like higher product quotas, business analytics, and premium badges.
  • User-Centric Approach: Carousell’s platform is designed to simplify online buying and selling, catering to individuals and businesses alike.
  • Growth and Expansion: The company experienced rapid growth, capitalizing on the eCommerce boom in Southeast Asia and expanding into multiple countries.
  • Varied Revenue Streams: Carousell’s revenue generation involves advertising packages to boost visibility, listing fees for high-value categories, and subscription-based premium tools.
  • Monetizing Digital Currency: The use of Carousell Coins, the platform’s in-app currency, plays a role in purchasing advertising packages and paying listing fees.
  • Premium Seller Tools: CarouBiz offers subscription plans that provide sellers with advanced features and analytics, enabling them to enhance their online businesses.
  • Market Competitiveness: Carousell’s revenue generation methods align with the broader marketplace model of facilitating transactions while offering value-added services to sellers.

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RelatedWhat Is A B2B2C Business Model?

Related Business Model Types

Platform Business Model

A platform business model generates value by enabling interactions between people, groups, and users by leveraging network effects. Platform business models usually comprise two sides: supply and demand. Kicking off the interactions between those two sides is one of the crucial elements for a platform business model success.

Marketplace Business Model

A marketplace is a platform where buyers and sellers interact and transact. The platform acts as a marketplace that will generate revenues in fees from one or all the parties involved in the transaction. Usually, marketplaces can be classified in several ways, like those selling services vs. products or those connecting buyers and sellers at B2B, B2C, or C2C level. And those marketplaces connecting two core players, or more.

Network Effects

A network effect is a phenomenon in which as more people or users join a platform, the more the value of the service offered by the platform improves for those joining afterward.

Asymmetric Business Models

In an asymmetric business model, the organization doesn’t monetize the user directly, but it leverages the data users provide coupled with technology, thus have a key customer pay to sustain the core asset. For example, Google makes money by leveraging users’ data, combined with its algorithms sold to advertisers for visibility.

Attention Merchant Business Model

In an asymmetric business model, the organization doesn’t monetize the user directly, but it leverages the data users provide coupled with technology, thus having a key customer pay to sustain the core asset. For example, Google makes money by leveraging users’ data, combined with its algorithms sold to advertisers for visibility. This is how attention merchants make monetize their business models.

Wholesale Business Model

The wholesale model is a selling model where wholesalers sell their products in bulk to a retailer at a discounted price. The retailer then on-sells the products to consumers at a higher price. In the wholesale model, a wholesaler sells products in bulk to retail outlets for onward sale. Occasionally, the wholesaler sells direct to the consumer, with supermarket giant Costco the most obvious example.

Retail Business Model

A retail business model follows a direct-to-consumer approach, also called B2C, where the company sells directly to final customers a processed/finished product. This implies a business model that is mostly local-based, it carries higher margins, but also higher costs and distribution risks.


A B2B2C is a particular kind of business model where a company, rather than accessing the consumer market directly, it does that via another business. Yet the final consumers will recognize the brand or the service provided by the B2B2C. The company offering the service might gain direct access to consumers over time.

Crowdsourcing Business Model

The term “crowdsourcing” was first coined by Wired Magazine editor Jeff Howe in a 2006 article titled Rise of Crowdsourcing. Though the practice has existed in some form or another for centuries, it rose to prominence when eCommerce, social media, and smartphone culture began to emerge. Crowdsourcing is the act of obtaining knowledge, goods, services, or opinions from a group of people. These people submit information via social media, smartphone apps, or dedicated crowdsourcing platforms.

Open-Core Business Model

While the term has been coined by Andrew Lampitt, open-core is an evolution of open-source. Where a core part of the software/platform is offered for free, while on top of it are built premium features or add-ons, which get monetized by the corporation who developed the software/platform. An example of the GitLab open core model, where the hosted service is free and open, while the software is closed.

Open Source vs. Freemium

Open source is licensed and usually developed and maintained by a community of independent developers. While the freemium is developed in-house. Thus the freemium give the company that developed it, full control over its distribution. In an open-source model, the for-profit company has to distribute its premium version per its open-source licensing model.

Freemium Business Model

The freemium – unless the whole organization is aligned around it – is a growth strategy rather than a business model. A free service is provided to a majority of users, while a small percentage of those users convert into paying customers through the sales funnel. Free users will help spread the brand through word of mouth.

Freeterprise Business Model

A freeterprise is a combination of free and enterprise where free professional accounts are driven into the funnel through the free product. As the opportunity is identified the company assigns the free account to a salesperson within the organization (inside sales or fields sales) to convert that into a B2B/enterprise account.

Franchising Business Model

In a franchained business model (a short-term chain, long-term franchise) model, the company deliberately launched its operations by keeping tight ownership on the main assets, while those are established, thus choosing a chain model. Once operations are running and established, the company divests its ownership and opts instead for a franchising model.

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