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Asia’s leading c-to-c marketplace and horizontal Carousell has been focusing on convenience over the last 18 months. The company’s senior engineering manager Damiano Tietto explained how and why its gone about doing this. 

In a LinkedIn postTietto (LinkedIn profile) said Carousell has introduced payments and shipping, under the banner of convenience. The company sees these two problems as “tightly coupled”. 

Damiano Tietto

Tietto joined the marketplace in 2017 and set about building two anchor engineering teams for “convenience” and “buyer experience”. The teams worked to define problems and map user stories. Focusing on simplicity, the scope was kept to the bare minimum.

“We wanted buyers to feel safe purchasing their items from any part of the country because Carousell would manage the payment process for them. We wanted sellers to reach a broader audience. Lastly, we wanted both parties to enjoy a seamless experience within the platform,” Tietto explained. 

The teams started by focusing on the market in Taiwan; where it was clear that using convenience stores for shipping would be cheaper than any other option. After studying all the data available, the company found that local traders were already using convenience stores for logistics. They’d then accept cash payments on delivery, right there at the store.

“It’s only in Taiwan, in fact, that true convenience is at every corner, in the form of convenience stores.”

While the engineering team was able to better define main user journeys, it was time to start building services.

Most transactions on Carousell center around an “offer”. The team decided to use an order system, however, to handle the whole life-cycle of a real order, as it happens on common e-commerce websites, along with these features:

  • algorithms to better capture the complexity of other services and external partners;
  • a logistics system to abstract the complexity of future integrations to the upper layers;
  • and a dedicated gateway to collect and redirect all incoming requests, including callbacks from external partners.

Taiwan market: launch and results
CarousellAfter four months of development, the team launched the first version of Carousell Convenience — the integrated payment and shipping solution for Taiwan — in November 2017.

So far, 66 percent of new listings are payment and shipping enabled. Order numbers have doubled in the last five months.

Convenience for the Singapore market

The network of point-to-point shipping in Singapore is not sufficiently mature and far from being as large as in Taiwan. This meant the team needed to modify its architecture before rolling its convenience products out in the country.

  • The order flow was changed to give more power back to sellers, allowing them to accept or reject order requests.
  • Payments are made upfront using credit and debit cards or bank transfers through DBS Paylah!.
  • The company launched a promo code mechanism which the marketing team regularly uses to drive new partnerships and encourage adoption.
  • It developed a new micro-service, called Payment System, following the idea of the Logistics System, to abstract the complexity of external integrations.
  • The team also built a full ledger to allow the finance team to reconcile transactions with partner and payment providers.

Team development
Carousell’s convenience teams are guided and coordinated by representatives of its product, engineering, and business teams.

The core convenience team is primarily a platform team. Oher teams like City State (the team that launched CarouPay) and Multi-City (a new team to break into the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Australia) work together on other simultaneous goals.

Carousell has rolled out other convenience features like Smart Listings and Smart Filters to make it easier for users to discover more unique items.

Tietto’s full article is available as a LinkedIn post