Pandemic accelerates resale marketplace growth

by ANIS HAZIM / Pic credit: Carousell

THE Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated growth for the resale marketplace — dubbed as recomerce — which saw a growing demand in reselling and repurchasing since the start of the lockdown.

Carousell country head for Malaysia Tang Siew Wai said the recommerce platform is booming during the pandemic due to consumers spending more time indoors.

Carousell country head for Malaysia Tang Siew Wai

“The supply and demand went up because a lot of people have more time at home, so they used recommerce like Carousell to compare prices and see the value that they can get.

“Also, many people started to do spring cleaning or look in their closets and see what they can sell for an additional source of income,” Tang said in a recent interview with The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

As Malaysia experienced the Movement Control Order (MCO) and travel restrictions, Carousell saw search spikes in console gaming throughout the whole series of MCO.

“The biggest spike is for PlayStation 4 console searches from March to June last year, which was also observed on our other brand, Mudah.my as well as corresponds to Google search trends in Malaysia,” he told TMR.

Meanwhile, furniture giant Ikea saw huge demand especially from the middle of 2020.

“This is fuelled by several factors such as a surge in demand for work-from-home setups and Ikea’s closure during the first MCO, which led to a backlog of orders and deliveries,” he said.

Mudah.my top search during the rounds of MCO was Perodua Myvi, which provides an interesting contrast of user behaviour to Carousell.

According to Tang, Carousell Malaysia is predominantly among the millennial user base, while Mudah.my predominantly falls in the Gen X user base group.

Comparing keyword searches for all items on Carousell Malaysia, the general trends in demands that hold steady are fashion brand Zara, Korean pop (K-pop) boyband BTS and Apple watches.

For Mudah.my, the steady keyword searches are iPhone, laptop and Yahama RX-Z motorcycle.

“So, over this prolonged lockdown period, we have seen a lot of stickiness in the users buying and selling, especially when they are experimenting in their purchases. Buyers tend to resell their recent purchase if they do not like it,” he stated.

On its demographic, Tang said Carousell differentiates its users uniquely based on categories or group’s interests.

“We no longer look at our demographics like the common age group. We look at it based on interest, for example, we grouped our users based on their interest like gaming, fashion or books,” he explained.

Tang noted that the gaming category is leading its user base not just during the pandemic, but even before the viruses due to the nature of the product.

“During the lockdown, people looked for other sources of entertainment such as buying PlayStation or gaming items. They tend to resell the items after they finish playing and buy another game on Carousell. That is how it works and why it has a strong interest.”

Commenting on the reopening of the economy and workforce returning to work, Tang believes that the recovery will not hinder the growth of the e-commerce platform.

“Most of the sellers in Carousell are casually selling their items. Some sellers believe that they could earn up to US$1,000 (RM4,233) by selling their unwanted items.

“Meanwhile, for buyers, they will buy second-hand items due to the value of money and some want to save money from buying brand new items at the retailers as they are not sure about it.”

He foresees the recommerce platform to grow in the upcoming years, driven by the sustainability movement.

“Recently, we saw that more consumers felt that repurchasing pre-owned items is more sustainable, as well as friendly practices for environmental purposes.”

Therefore, Carousell aims to provide a platform to support sustainability by buying unused or underused products that are still in good condition.