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Tips for clueless merchant/s ? :D


ZynDyrr
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Hi there !

ok so I really like to make things on SL and I use the money for upload things and to host events on my sim, etc. But I was wanting to expand even more, the issue is I'm completely clueless as to how to improve  my sales in marketplace/in world. I think I've done a pretty good job of maintaining a somewhat proffessional  looking store both inworld and marketplace, have a website and store connected to my profile. Is there something I'm missing? Also, do providing demo's help sales at all? and which types of products do people usually like to see demos of? Are there things Merchants like me commonly over looked? Thanks in advance! :)

- clueless

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There's no magic bullet, really. The problem all starting merchants face is getting noticed consistently amidst the thousands of other creators and merchants with the same idea. Word of mouth is by far the best advertizing, so engage with your customers and listen to their feedback. You want someone to buy your product, tell others about it, and then remember you as a creator they like so they'll return.

If you're making clothes, definitely have demos. You might find a lot of people grabbing demos and nothing else, but at least that's exposure. If you're making larger things like houses, then being able to visit them inworld is sufficient.

Do you have a group and/or mailing list? I would recommend both. Do not spam your customers, but you definitely want to be able to let them know about new releases.

Finally, you require tenacity. It will be slow going in the beginning, but once you start getting noticed and have a large enough body of products it will improve. Part of that is just winning the marketplace ranking game and the arcane mysteries of 'relevance'  - Once a product gets popular enough to move up into the first few pages of search results, your sales will snowball.

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I have a group yes, mailing list I do not, but I also have a website I try to maintain as well. I will definately look into making demo's as soon as i can afford all the upload costs however, as far as making things go...well I try to make between 2-5 products a week, although sometimes more. Though I did get rid of some of my earlier stuff as I read in another page (I've been reading alot lol) that keeping an up-to date store with only quality-not outdated items was good too.

....Just don't understand the search function at all, I try to keep my serch terms as simple and to the point as possible, but it seems the older your store is, the more you pop up in search. Which leads me to think the search engine results are based on sales senority, and not on "relevence" to the key terms. If this is the case, why bother having a "best selling" option in search at all? Probably a question for another thread...lol

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Mailing lists are good for people who want to follow your store, but don't have a spare group slot.

No one understands how 'relevance' works, but its known that number of sales (or possibly total revenue) is a factor.

Quality is better than quantity, but a certain amount of quantity is important for making you look established.

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as someone said there is no magic trick and because of that you have to try stuff and see what seem to work for you. Clearly you produce enough new stuff each week, your problem isn't there (I make 1-2 products a month and find that enough to grow nicely).

 

Adding a link to your MP store in your profile wouldn't be a bad thing

 

maybe review your niche a little. Maybe the market for fantasy looking jewelry isn't big enough for the goals you fixed. There is also your price that could be worth reviewing. I see you have lots of stuff but almost all under 100L. That's like 50 sales a day if your objective is 5000L a day. That's a lot of sales for a small store. Did you consider the idea to double your price? Actually X10 in some cases? I bet it will still be a very fair price and if things turn like they did for me, boosting your price will bring more sales (go figure). 

 

Wouldn't be a bad idea to try new ideas for the product pictures to. I don't say they are bad but you have to try new stuff, right? I don't believe in product pics made with the intention of "showing you exactly what you get". Not as main pic I mean. For the main pic, I like to try to sell them a fantasy, a dream, the hot girl who wear the shirt rather than the shirt, the handy guy in cowboy boots rather than the boots, etc. I want the pic to make people want to click, make them want that for them. Then once they are on my product page it's time for more exact pictures combined to good sales pitch.

 

There is a lot more ideas but bottom line, if you are unhappy with the result, don't repeat the same process more often, change it, adapt it, diversify, try stuff.

 

Good luck 

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I agree that word of mouth is the best advertising. I dont do hunts or events, other than a couple of charity things, have a minimal blog, and dont send out stuff to bloggers. What I do is look at something I have made and ask myself if I love it -- do I have an emotional response to it? If I do, then someone else will. If I don't, I keep working til I do. 

Another thing I often notice is that stores are a hodge podge of different types of content and styles. They have no identity. When I made my first logo, instantly my theme popped into my head : La Galleria, Fine Living and Dining. That covers a lot of content types -- but there are no motorcycles or shoes. I also have a range of styles, but everything is classic. (I dont do retro or Victorian or stained uplholstery or ultra modern, since I would never have those things in my own home.)

 

 

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BadEddy's comment about pricing is a good one. It is tempting to set your prices lower than your competitors, especially when starting out. I know I did it. But there's a lot of psychology around pricing and perceived quality - too low a price tag and you will give the impression of being low quality (or worse - ripped/stolen).

 

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What kind of things do you make?  I started my shop almost 2 years ago and I create fairly consistantly, so almost always have something new.  It has grown and sales have grown, not quite to the point I would like them to, but I have definitely exceeded what I thought I could ever do with a shop!  As someone else said, I had a vision for it and an idea of what I wanted the shop to be and I have stuck to that as much as possible. I also create things that I LOVE and would wear if I had them in rl, so I never put out something that I wouldnt wear myself on my avatar.  My customers know and appreciate this and they know I am not going to put out something shabby and half assed.  :) I too started out with low pricing, which was fine at first because I was learning and the quality of what I make now is much higher than when I started! 

Hunts have helped bring a lot of new people in to discover my shop, plus I enjoy the challenge of creating for a theme now and again.  :)  Sales on market and in world both fluctuate.  But they have both had good and not so good waves.  ;) 

I have a VIP group, that is invite only to customers who have purchased because I give out high quality and numerous group gifts, and I also have a free subscriber group that doesnt take up a group slot for people who just want to be kept informed on sales, new releases and the like.  :)

Just stick with it and keep growing, people will find you, and I do think hunts are good because then people can see your shop, and get a sample of the quality of items you have to offer.  :)

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(generic response, not necessarily to Eddy)

Ah price... good old price!

In any transaction such as in the case of a contract or sale, the objective of that transaction is for both parties to feel that they have both won.  Not in a winner/loser way but in such a way that both have come away satisfied with the transaction, that neither was disadvantaged.

It is sometimes said that the perfect price point is where the customer just about winces but still pays.  They've still placed sufficient value on the deal to part cash for it and the seller has obtained the price that was sought after.

Look around, look at other similar things that offer the same perceived quality and pitch at around the same.  The products will be perceived as being of similar quality.

Sales, sales are a RL method which is typically used to shift old stock.  Physical products have a storage and display cost, retail space is expensive and the ROI on that space needs to considered.

A sale can be disastrously negative however.  A sale can say:-

"this product is not worth what I originally priced it at!"

"sucks that you bought it yesterday at full price"

and worse of all:-

"my other products will be along in a sale sometime soon"

Do you remember Stiletto Moody and their rapid decline?  It was easy to spot, 50 to 70% off sales almost every other week (or so it felt).  Imagine how that felt to people who had spent $30 US for shoes the week before.  (Not wishing to get into dicussion about the age of the products or other business practices here please).

Similarly, starting cheap and expecting to increase (or revert to a previous price after a sale) is potentially flawed too as that can alienate your original loyal customers who liked "cheap".

If you can create something similar to the rest of the similar products, then price similar or even better, improve on them and price higher.  Build something of value, put a worth on that item that is defensible but if simply dropping your pants and bending over in the hope of gaining sales is your strategy, that's fine too, i'll start selling vaseline.

There is one discount method that i'm in favour of and that's early discount pricing.  New item, regular price will be xx starting from a specific date, on offer until then... It does encourage existing customers to grab a bargain and the item is not devalued in the long term.

For a more consultative process such as for people making custom items, how to price when the customer says "that's too expensive, I can't afford that, can you offer me a discount?"

Wait a sec... why?  Why is your time suddenly worth less than you said it was to make the item a moment ago just because someone doesn't have the funds?

Correct answer is "That's fine, I can remove part of the solution such that it will meet your budget."

The value of the original quote remains, the client is now in a position to determine whether the item is still going to meet their needs when built to their reduced budget.

"But wait!" you said, "i'll lose their business to someone else". 

Yep fine!  Now go and find the work at the rate you want and let someone else work for cheap, it's their problem to figure that out.

"Your couples animations are too expensive, I only have half of what you're asking for, can you discount?"

"I understand your issue and I can compromise to meet your budget, which of the animations would like, male or female?"

How many times do we see requests in the Mesh forum for "I need something awesome creating, full mesh avatar with scripts and sounds and oh, it must be full perm and exclusive to me and my budget is L$2000 because i've seen full perm on Marketplace for that price."?  Then they get super hostile when suggestions are made to re-evaluate their idea about price!

There's an enjoyable read by author Mahan Khalsa named "Let's Get Real or Let's Not Play: Transforming the Buyer/Seller Relationship" which has some great stories on negotiation and pricing.

I also understand that we all have different goals and that to one person it's their RL source of income, to another they're living with their parents, have zero expenses, use educational or in some cases, pirated software and don't care because "it's just a game" and offer things for L$10 because they have no value and that is one of the frustrations in SL but that doesn't mean just because someone is low balling, that others need to.

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I agree with all Sassy said about price. 

 

Also about low vs high price, if I look for a chair on MP and have two choices, a 50L chair with animations and all and a very similar looking chair with animation and all but for 250L, chances are I''ll grab the more expensive one unless I can or have time to try both and findout I like the cheap one better. 

 

It's just that I might assume something in the cheeper chair is of less quality and I don't wan that. Maybe I'm wrong but it will be my first reflex and I'm not the only one like that. So really, like sassy said, as long as I feel like I got a chair worth my money I will be very happy with paying 250L. Actually, I'll be happy cause it's woth my money and I'll be even happier cause deep down inside I'll know I didn't get just any chair, I got the best chair. 

 

 

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Sassy Romano wrote:

(generic response, not necessarily to Eddy)

Ah price... good old price!

In any transaction such as in the case of a contract or sale, the objective of that transaction is for both parties to feel that they have both won.  Not in a winner/loser way but in such a way that both have come away satisfied with the transaction, that neither was disadvantaged.

It is sometimes said that the perfect price point is where the customer just about winces but still pays.  They've still placed sufficient value on the deal to part cash for it and the seller has obtained the price that was sought after.

Look around, look at other similar things that offer the same perceived quality and pitch at around the same.  The products will be perceived as being of similar quality.

Sales, sales are a RL method which is typically used to shift old stock.  Physical products have a storage and display cost, retail space is expensive and the ROI on that space needs to considered.

A sale can be disastrously negative however.  A sale can say:-

"this product is not worth what I originally priced it at!"

"sucks that you bought it yesterday at full price"

and worse of all:-

"my other products will be along in a sale sometime soon"

Do you remember Stiletto Moody and their rapid decline?  It was easy to spot, 50 to 70% off sales almost every other week (or so it felt).  Imagine how that felt to people who had spent $30 US for shoes the week before.  (Not wishing to get into dicussion about the age of the products or other business practices here please).

Similarly, starting cheap and expecting to increase (or revert to a previous price after a sale) is potentially flawed too as that can alienate your original loyal customers who liked "cheap".

If you can create something similar to the rest of the similar products, then price similar or even better, improve on them and price higher.  Build something of value, put a worth on that item that is defensible but if simply dropping your pants and bending over in the hope of gaining sales is your strategy, that's fine too, i'll start selling vaseline.

There is one discount method that i'm in favour of and that's early discount pricing.  New item, regular price will be xx starting from a specific date, on offer until then... It does encourage existing customers to grab a bargain and the item is not devalued in the long term.

For a more consultative process such as for people making custom items, how to price when the customer says "that's too expensive, I can't afford that, can you offer me a discount?"

Wait a sec... why?  Why is your time suddenly worth less than you said it was to make the item a moment ago just because someone doesn't have the funds?

Correct answer is "That's fine, I can remove part of the solution such that it will meet your budget."

The value of the original quote remains, the client is now in a position to determine whether the item is still going to meet their needs when built to their reduced budget.

"But wait!" you said, "i'll lose their business to someone else". 

Yep fine!  Now go and find the work at the rate you want and let someone else work for cheap, it's their problem to figure that out.

"Your couples animations are too expensive, I only have half of what you're asking for, can you discount?"

"I understand your issue and I can compromise to meet your budget, which of the animations would like, male or female?"

How many times do we see requests in the Mesh forum for "I need something awesome creating, full mesh avatar with scripts and sounds and oh, it must be full perm and exclusive to me and my budget is L$2000 because i've seen full perm on Marketplace for that price."?  Then they get super hostile when suggestions are made to re-evaluate their idea about price!

There's an enjoyable read by author Mahan Khalsa named "Let's Get Real or Let's Not Play: Transforming the Buyer/Seller Relationship" which has some great stories on negotiation and pricing.

I also understand that we all have different goals and that to one person it's their RL source of income,
to another they're living with their parents, have zero expenses, use educational or in some cases, pirated software and don't care because "it's just a game" and offer things for L$10 because they have no value
and that is one of the frustrations in SL but that doesn't mean just because someone is low balling, that others need to.

Or since mesh was introduced, that the items were never created but only uploaded by the "merchant" -- who rightly estimates the value of the products to be very low.

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