After their recent PR fiasco at the hands of the SEO people they hired to do promotion, the people behing Nilaam.pk finally went through the formal process of walking me through their app and agreeing to let me do a preview a couple of weeks before their hard launch date.
Nilaam.PK, based in Atlanta, GA, is being pitched as a global auctioning platform. Their basic interface is no different from any other auctioning system, except that at the moment it seems to be more focused on its single-purposed goal of supporting active auctions (see below).
Diving a little deeper I was given a walkthrough of the things that stands Nilaam apart in the crowd. Read on for those details.
One thing I like about Nilaam is that these people seem to be very clear on their focus on being a platform for P2P commerce rather than being a product. Within this focus, they are looking to work on a number of different things.
Firstly, they are not limiting this to any local region â€“ in fact they are particularly interested in using Nilaam to support US-to-PK auctions, as well as auctions in Bangladesh, India and other middle-east / Asian countries. The case for the US and PK auctions is with expats who may want to bid for some items from home (to better connect with local culture) or local kids who might want to buy, say, guitars autographed from their favorite bands (to better connect with western culture).
If they are able to successfully support a reasonable shipping channel back and forth, this might become an intersting case.
Secondly, rather than waiting for a pure consumer-to-consumer focus, they want to build up inventory by allowing retailers from all over the country (and well other countries) to start e-stores immediately. These stores will be hosted within the Nilaam servers, but any small shop with inventory to sell can also set up a rebranded custom-themed store for themselvesâ€¦ these stores will also be visible over the Nilaam platform. From a business POV, this model is similar to the plain ecommerce fulfillment platform shophive.com
Thirdly, they are also trying to make it immediately easy for buyers and sellers to exchange money in a secure way. The other local auctioning and ecommerce platforms have a love / hate relationship with Amaana and local banks in finding support for their ecommerce initiatives.
What Nilaam is doing instead is bringing an international merchant services system to Pakistan, where Nilaam has become the exclusive merchant services account for them in Pk (this is a testy statement and weâ€™ll have to confirm this after launch). From what I understand, this means that buyers and sellers would be able to set up services accounts in 5â€“mins through the website, transfer funds to those accounts using western union, and start transacting across countries. Funds could be withdrawing via SWIFT wire transfer or via checks.
Finally, for buyers who dont feel safe sending money to random strangers, they are also introducing professional Escrow Services linked to their platform. The way that works is that if youâ€™re a buyer, you can commit your money to the third-party escrow. The escrow will then be able to guarantee payment to the seller (reducing risk on that part). If the seller DOES send the goods, the escrow releases your payment to them. If the seller does not, your funds are returned.
It is interesting, again, to see them realize that web products are platforms, and Iâ€™m glad someoneâ€™s advisors are guiding them in the right direction. The question that still remains is whether our culture will get over the general hesitation to adopting web solutions and start using Nilaam and others as their primary method of buying.