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Carousell Clone App - How to Build an App Like Carousell?

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Yuri Musienko
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Carousell is a mobile app for posting ads for buying, selling and exchanging new or used goods. The platform is very popular in Southeast Asia due to its simplicity and convenience. In this article, you will learn how to create a mobile application like Carousell by cloning its functionality and partially design.

Carousell’s business model

Essentially, Carousell's business model is standard for such client-to-client applications: it is a marketplace where anyone can buy and offer goods and services. Registration and publication of ads are free. The peculiarity of this application is that it is local (focused on Southeast Asia) and easy to use: on Carousell, selling is as easy as photographing, and buying is as easy as chatting.

At the same time, the company's management does not want to become an international giant like AliExpress or Alibaba. Instead, the company relies on local markets, giving its users the ability to sell each other unwanted goods or exchange them through regular barter.

The monetization strategy in Carousell and similar applications is as follows:

  • Delivery fees. The platform can act as an intermediary between the parties when a delivery person needs to be appointed. Usually, such delivery implies additional guarantees for the parties. For example, that the product matches the photo and description.
  • Transaction fees. The Carousell app does not charge fees on regular trading transactions on the platform, even if they occur with the help of payment solutions built into the service. But the application has a function to reserve funds inside Carousell: the buyer can transfer money to the account of the application, and they will be held there until he receives the goods. The service charges a small fee for such operations.
  • Partnerships. In recent years, the platform has begun to actively cooperate with local businesses, promoting various services within the application. These are mainly travel insurance, financial services, car sales and maintenance, video games and other things.
  • Advertisements. Promotion of ads within the app: first places in the listing, brighter design, place in recommendations, placing an ad on the title screen, etc.

Main functions of the application

Mandatory Buy and Sell App functions by user roles

When developing a clone app, you don't have to reinvent the wheel by thinking up original functionality for your trading platform. It just needs to be copied and sometimes updated slightly to suit the needs of the niche and location. This approach saves time and money.

And since the functions in Carousell are standard, creating a clone will be quite simple. The only thing that can cause difficulties is the ability to reserve funds, and only because this function is relatively rarely implemented on such platforms. But for blockchain platforms, this is almost standard functionality that is implemented using smart contracts.

So, if you want to develop an application like Carousell, look for a technical partner who is familiar with these technologies. How to find such a partner is described in detail in the article «Smart Contract Development: How to Choose a Company and Platform»

Additional app functions

If you want to create a clone of Carousell to launch a trading platform in a low-competition market, the standard function set is enough. However, if you are planning to enter a highly competitive market, it is necessary for your application to somehow stand out from the competitors. This can be achieved through the implementation of several additional functions:
  • User identification. In 2019, Carousell introduced fingerprint identification to reduce fraud (which was quite high on Carousel). Now scammers at Carousell are banned not by IP, but by their fingerprints. You can implement the same identification function, but not only by fingerprint scan, but also by face (Face ID), bank account or e-passport.
  • Identification of goods by a photograph. Such a function is implemented in the LetGo application: the user takes a photo of the product, and then the system itself determines what it is, and then creates an advertisement for the sale of the item with its description. This is possible thanks to artificial intelligence.
  • Videos for product presentation. Most online message boards and marketplaces only use photos and text to present a product, which is not always enough. For example, when buying a used vacuum cleaner or fan, a video will be much more useful than a picture. LetGo understood this, because they added the ability to put a small video to demonstrate a product or service.
  • Integration with postal services. You can add the ability to track delivery status in your application, just like in delivery service applications. To do this, you need to agree with the most popular delivery services in the selected region on such integration, possibly in exchange for some kind of partnership and/or advertising integration.
  • Personal recommendations. The application, based on search queries and user behavior, offers him products that he is likely to find useful or just like. Surveys show that 70% of users like recommendations, but this feature is rarely implemented in online message boards like Carousell, OLX, OfferUP or LetGo.
  • Possibility of barter. Carousell is focused on Asia, where there are many people with low incomes who do not always have the opportunity to buy something for money. Therefore, people almost immediately began to agree on a barter on the platform: the exchange of goods for another product (with or without surcharge). Now this happens through chat, but you can implement a barter function that will regulate and service such transactions.

Attractive and comfortable design

Carousell's design is simple but quite bright thanks to the combination of red and white. Source
There are quite a few effective solutions in Carousell's design: a combination of red and white, a simple user path, intuitivity, and more. Therefore, by cloning this application, you do not need to develop UX / UI design from scratch. You can just copy it, making small changes.

To avoid ruining your original design, follow three rules:

  • Don't touch UX design. Platforms with a larger budget and a large user base have more options for effective UX design, where sometimes even one pixel makes a huge difference. Therefore, it is best to simply repeat their designs. Everyone does this, including eBay and Amazon, so all sites and applications are now similar in structure.
  • Change the color scheme. It is better to choose it based on the niche. For example, green is suitable for eco-goods and plant products, black and white for technology, blue for insurance (this color is more credible). Adobe Color will help you find the right color combination.
  • Remove ad units. Users do not like ads, but on large trading platforms, they are willing to tolerate it, as there are many offers, buyers and sellers. When you launch an analogue of Carousell, you will not have this advantage, so you need to minimize things that repel users. It is worth adding ad units as the user audience and listing grows.

Built-in payment service

Comparison of the most popular e-Commerce payment gateways

Most online boards like Carousell do not provide any financial settlements for their users. People use the chat to decide how to transfer goods and make payments. This is user-friendly and can reduce app development costs, but sometimes this approach creates problems.

Thus, in the case of Carousell, this has led to an increase in the number of fraud. And although the percentage of fraudulent transactions in relation to all transactions was small (0.1%), this still became a significant problem for the company due to large reputation losses and claims of users against the service.

To solve this problem, the service added the Carousell Protection function: the platform keeps the buyer's money until the goods are delivered. In case of problems with the purchase, the buyer can apply to arbitration and get his money back.

After the introduction of Carousell Protection, the number of frauds immediately decreased by 40% and continued to fall as more people began to use the new opportunity.

This example shows how useful the in-app payment option can be, especially if there is a fund reservation. And such a function is useful both for users (protection against fraud) and for the application (the ability to charge a commission on each transaction).

App Development Cost

Usually creating an application like Carousell means developing the application itself and the background, as well as testing the product. Depending on the functionality and complexity, this requires from 352 to 789 hours of development, or from 17.6 to 39.5 thousand dollars at a rate of 50 dollars per hour.


Carousell Clone App - How to Build an App Like Carousell? key takeaways:

#1. Carousell’s business model
#2. Main functions of the application
#3. Additional app functions
#4. Attractive and comfortable design
#5. Built-in payment service
#6. App Development Cost

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