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Friday, July 06, 2012

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Shug Maitland

I have to respect a merchant's principled stand in not participating in Marketplace. While I, like you, use Marketplace as a catalog, I shop in world as much as possible.
Second Life is a virtual world and virtual shopping is part of the experience. The loss of in-world stores since LL began pushing Marketplace is dramatic and lamentable.
Perhaps all it would take to turn that around would be a change in the fee structure to a delivery fee charged to the customer vs. the present transaction fee charged to the merchant.

Sandy Sandalwood

*G Field* is a great store in SL!

Iggy

Every Marketplace entry makes SL a little less of a "world."

I enjoy going through stores, though like Shug I often find what I need at Marketplace and then go to the in-world shop.

Toady Nakamura

As co-owner of Grendel's Children, while I appreciate the mention in your column, I hope you will understand that we do have a consistent and logical policy as to why we are not on Marketplace, and were not on X-Street previously.

For Grendel's there is no advantage to online marketplace and many disadvantages.

We have an online catalog http://world.secondlife.com/place/eb968fa8-f34c-b18f-452c-485f0c4b346d which contains links to every vendor in the store.

A link to the catalog is offered in a notecard to every visitor to our shop, and one needs merely get on one of our chat lists to have several of our loyal and wonderful customers, as well as Grendel's staff, offer to help.

shockwave yareach

I personally believe that both Marketplace AND real world stores are necessary. The marketplace allows instant sales when you are unable to go shopping, and replaces the eternally useless SEARCH function in SL.

But the stores and the places to visit that the stores support, those form a crucial part of SL. For if there are no places to visit in SL, then there is no reason for SL to exist in the first place. And many of these places require the funding which the inworld sales provides to stay in operation.

Thus I would like to see it so a marketplace store is limited by the size of the land the "magicbox" is sitting on. The more land you have inworld, the bigger your store, and the more stuff you can sell in the marketplace. That would be fair and would help bring an end to people taking money out of SL with the marketplace but pay nothing back for any land.

Both are necessary for a viable VR world to survive. But today, LL has made it so that buying land for a store is a sucker's bet, since competition can sell that Sexbed for only 100L as their Marketplace costs are zero.

Caliburn Susanto

What Iggy, Shockwave, and others said.

Your article is about vendors *you* would like to see on MarketPlace (and you are right, it does make browsing easier) but it does not address the issue of vendors moving their businesses to MP then abandoning the Grid, thereby reducing the in-world experience for everyone (because store rentals help land owners with tier, thereby increasing locations to visit and subsidizing creativity on the Grid). I find this trend appalling and won't support it with money by making purchases from MP-only vendors.

I use MP to browse, but if I see something I like but don't find the "See item in Second Life®" link on the product page I will -- unless the item is one-of-a-kind, or FREE -- usually decline to buy it and look for another provider (or I will just decide to forget the purchase). If I had my way, having a store in-world would be a requirement for listing on MarketPlace. Why should someone profit from a platform which they do not participate in or support with tier?

Also, I like Shockwave's idea. Allow levels of MP presence commensurate with land holdings. None of that will happen, of course, so long as Residents continue to purchase from vendors with no in-world shop. Linden Lab gets paid either way, so they probably don't care. However, by refusing to purchase items from vendors with no in-world store, Residents could make a statement LL might pay attention to.

Adeon Writer

Grendels is the only store I know of on this list, but they're wonderful. I walk away with things I didn't even know I wanted when I visit. I don't think that would work on the marketplace as I'd have no idea what to search for.

Pussycat Catnap

Some merchants PURPOSEFULLY stay off Marketplace in order to help SL stay alive by supporting inworld shopping.

I give them KUDOS for doing so, and when I find them, try to support them.

More merchants should boycott the thing, frankly... or land is just going to up and die, and take SL with it.

Pussycat Catnap

Me and shockwave have both been calling for months for a link between land owned and size of MP listing.

My own idea one of two choices:

1. Can only sell items rezzed inworld. So instead of delivering from your inventory, it delivers an item rezzed inworld. Pro: land ownership becomes vital. Con: people might rez stacks of boxes a mile high, and call it a day.

2. MP would only be adverts, not sales. Merchants could give a SLURL, and the 'buy it now' button would open the SLURL.
Pros: land ownership becomes vital, MP excels for what it does best: advertising product existence. Merchants would have to have inworld displays that were attractive enough to seal the deal.
Cons: People would have to use SL in order to buy things to use in SL. Merchant accounts would have to be accounts that actually use SL. For some people, this is a negative...

Pussycat Catnap

I am going to try and make a point now of buying at least one thing, one one of my accounts, from every merchant mentioned on this post that I can still prove has stayed off of MP.

(Might not make it though, I have no Caucasian avatars. So for the skin shops, this will depend on selection.)

Pussycat Catnap

"Grendels is the only store I know of on this list, but they're wonderful. I walk away with things I didn't even know I wanted when I visit."

Went in there on an alt once planning to become a Harpy for a Fantasy RP sim, left as a Beta Fish. :)

That's the kind of place it is. Stuff you won't find anywhere else, that is often really neat.

Hamlet Au

"Some merchants PURPOSEFULLY stay off Marketplace in order to help SL stay alive by supporting inworld shopping."

That brings up an interesting question: Why should merchants be responsible for supporting Linden Lab's failing land revenue model, especially when it means *they* have to pay to keep it going?

Arcadia Codesmith

I haven't the vaguest interest in supporting land barons and other parasites, and even less interest in paying inflated prices for worthless land just to sell my wares. That's not just a "no"; that's a "hell, no!"

Iris Ophelia

Most of the time I also use the Marketplace like a catalogue and visit shops in world to buy. Many store owners will use the Marketplace to sell their old/retired items that they don't have room for on their land anymore, but there's more to it. The real advantage of it is that I can find results from places I may have otherwise forgotten about or never even heard of.

@Toady this is the dilemma, because your model works great for existing customers, but for someone who's never been to Grendel's and has no friends who have either, there's a good chance they just won't find you, since Marketplace searching is a million times easier and more functional than SL Search for shoppers, even if they're just going to go to the store anyway (though for the record both search methods still sorta suck, just that one sucks less).

Of course it's a creator's choice to list or not, but there are lots of options to increase visibility without "contributing to the death of the in-world experience". One of my favourites is only listing your demos so people can see what you have available and find you when they're searching, but will still have to go to your store to make the actual purchase. Win-win, right?

Pussycat Catnap

"That brings up an interesting question: Why should merchants be responsible for supporting Linden Lab's failing land revenue model, especially when it means *they* have to pay to keep it going?"

Because the other choice is the death of SL - and then everyone loses.

Stop for a half a microsecond and think of what the merchants are selling. Toys to play with inside of SL. Without SL, they have no business. They better darn well support it, or they lose everything.

Pussycat Catnap

"worthless land just to sell my wares"

Without that land there is no world. Nowhere to go to and enjoy or visit. Without places to go, nobody needs your stuff.

Who's gonna buy your wares when the last sim shuts down?

What do I need any of the junk on MP for, other than to use and enjoy on the land inside of SL. Nothing. Its all just addons for our dolls.

Your business is only as healthy as the social community inworld. That community is only as healthy as its ability to find place to go and meet, work, play. Without that community, your business is DEAD.

If you're an SL business, that worthless land pays your bills.

If you're an SL user, that worthless land keeps your virtual world alive.

Hamlet Au

"Because the other choice is the death of SL - and then everyone loses."

I don't think it's such a stark either-or. At the moment, Linden Lab is struggling to replace its land revenue model, mainly with subscriptions. They know land revenue can't last, and that's whether or not SL vendors buy or rent land there.

Shug Maitland

Hamlet, to me the major issue is not LL's revenue model, it is the SL social model. I have been around here long enough to have seen SL go from a community based model to a "sit on your private island or plot" model. Marketplace is a major factor in that transition or at least the lack of an in world shopping experience is.
There are some changes to Marketplace that could help;
1- Charge a delivery fee so customers at least check to see if it will be cheaper to buy in-world
2- Give Land Marks not SLURLs, then we can shop from computers from which we can not log in, even from cell phones. The LMs will be waiting for us when we log in.
3- Requiring an in world store is a good idea but it is difficult to implement with the present vendor system and rent vs. ownership of land. Maybe a Marketplace base vendor that can be used in world but will sell from Marketplace without a delivery fee.
4- Perhaps some merchants would rather have their items listed in Marketplace as "search only" and you must buy in world.
Something *can* be done, LL does not have the will at the moment.

Cacia Escape

Shug, I believe you hit the nail on the head. The community aspect.

As one of the grunts at Grendel's that's something I enjoy. Without even thinking hard I can name quite a few of our customers, and name the types of avatars they favor.

I have plenty of stories about first time customer's and their experiences. Bewildered Im's looking for a product. The joys of watching them find not only what they are looking for but more. The interesting stories behind why they are looking for a ____.

I also have many tales of regular customers with vaguer ideas who message seeking advice on which avatars to use for parts to enhance or create their own creature.

And then there are the times when we do not have a product. Sometimes we can offer suggestions of other stores where the item might be found, other times we cannot. Usually, however, we wind up seeing that customer again at a later date.

I wouldn't trade that human connection for anything, particularly not a piles of listing transactions and numbers.

Grendel's thrives not because of some grand marketing scheme. Or for that matter any marketing scheme at all. Grendel's exists as a community of content creators creating things for the joy of it surrounded by a community of consumers who appreciate and enjoy what is created. The goal is just that, creation for the pleasure of the creating and the joys of sharing that with others who appreciate it.

It takes a lot of different kinds of people to make a world work be it virtual or physical. Among the many kinds are those who do something because it works and those who try to tell others what they 'should' be doing instead.

Just because something functions differently from what you expect does not mean it is wrong or bad. Oftentimes it is our differences that bind us together and make the world worth engaging in, no matter what form that world might take.

Grendel's is what it is and we do not try to be what we aren't. We just do what we enjoy. Make stuff. Really it's as simple as that. There is no 'marketing and selling strategy'. There doesn't need to be. The creations speak for themselves. In my world, that's exactly how it 'should' be.

Rusalka Writer

I use the Marketplace in place of the wretched Search. I usually don't buy on the Marketplace since I like seeing what I'm buying inworld first, so that SLURL is my taxi.

Chestnut Rau

How about LL fixed search? Then we could find stores, events,and places to go.

Yeah, how about that? Fix search. Too bad no one ever mentioned the idea to Linden Lab before. I am sure they would get right on it if they knew it is a problem. After all, the search function in the Marketplace works well so they have the code.

'lil' Linn

After reading through this article i do assume that the autor do not enjoy shop browsing in-world, and thus use the MP for some kind database. I do that myself, but when i arrive in a shop i take my time to see what else they have too.

I do agree with Shug and Iggy LL is promoting MP so hard that if this keeps up SL will just be a place with empty shopping malls. What LL should do is to set a fixed limit of how many products each person can have listed on MP, because it's a great place to sell stuff to people that sell a few products (less than 50).

I think everyone should support shopping in-world and use the in-world shops rather than th MP, i sure do it this way.

Tankgirl

How about 10 stores that are making the best of this medium?

Edie Shoreland

I hope the virtual prim and mortar stores don't disappear from SL either, as wandering through stores on the grid can be as relaxing experience as RL shopping. But not everyone shares my passion for rubbing elbows with fellow shoppers and wandering the aisles.

I own land, but I'm using it to support a friend's business, so my products' only in-world presence is at random friends' businesses and sims I want my customers to visit. In exchange for bringing a little traffic to their sims, the customer gets the item for free, or at a discount.

Even stating that the marketplace customer can find the item for free inworld, I still sell about 14-20 of those items a week on Marketplace. The convenience of Marketplace is worth the extra few lindens to the customer.

If a prim and mortar store isn't getting the traffic because of Marketplace, maybe the better alternative is to set up a low-prim high altitude inworld shop and use ground level and the remaining prims for the parcel to create something non-business related that the owner is passionate about. I don't see a need to restrict marketplace to keep commerce and advertising on the grid, use the marketplace profits to pay owners to do something they really love with the land.

Julee

MP is definitely good for buyers. It is easier to search and compare, and gives the option of paying with Paypal.

For vendors MP alleviates the need to pay tier for an in-world store. If a vendor is not making enough in-world sales to at least cover their tier and their time, it is not cost effective. So far, my MP sales outweigh my in-world sales by about 95%. The downside is, LL takes 5% off the top of any MP sale, and that comes from the vendor's pocket. That means I get 190L for a 200L item I sell on Marketplace, instead of 200L for the same item in-world.

To get the levels of MP traffic in my in-world store I have to do a LOT more work with group notices, subscribers, and hunts. And then I have to contend with people using outdated viewers (cant see mesh, etc), rezzing issues, sim lag, etc.

All that, along with the move to direct-delivery (no more Magic boxes that required an in-world presence), seems to me LL has been making a major push to get vendors off the grid and onto MP, where they can make their 5% commission on sales.

Zola Zsun

Marketplace actually takes me to stores inworld to which i would never have previously even known about.

Even if you do not want to sell in marketplace, some kind of presence, like selling a few things and giving a catalog. Or offering a catalogue.

If inworld search were as good as marketplace search is, I'd rather shop inworld..

Just reading this article I found inworld retailers I had never known about and will visit immediately.

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Wagner James Au
Wagner James "Hamlet" Au
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