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Advice For A New Store Owner


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Hello everyone,

 

I am currently in the process of redoing the store that I have been working on for the past 2 months. I had decided to revamp the entire store, due to the non professional look of my products, banner, and over all set up. The changes I am currently making right now

- New Name

- New Professional Sleek & Elegant Look

- New Managment

I have been working hard to bring these changes to my store, these changes are not avaiable publicly yet, because I am making sure I have everything set up before I reopen my store.

 

I was wondering if there were any store owners out there that could give some friendly advice, need to know manners, and anything else that would be useful for someone starting a store on Second Life. 

 

Although I have been on Second Life for about 9 months now there is still much I have to learn and any information, tips, or help is beyond apprecaited.

 

Thank you all very much for taking the time to read this!!

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Ok...your customers are gold, value them highly.  That sounds obvious right? yet over and over we come across so many examples of completely dysfunctional selling in SL.

I could rant on this for a very long time but i'll try to be brief.  You've bought things in RL and there will have been problems, every time someone comes to you with an issue, put yourself in their place, recall the times you've had problems with purchases and think about what would be reasonable to you, what would give you a good experience?

Now i'm not suggesting that you have to give in to each and every complaint and there are some that you'll never win but ask the customer "what can I do that will make you happy?" because sometimes the answer isn't what you think it is going to be.

Please do NOT fall into the trap of "this is how everyone else does it" such as outright refuse to replace "no transfer" permission items or give out the crap excuse "I can't refund you because the item is no transfer".

Please do NOT stick up offensive store policy because you've seen other stores do it.  I used to collect them as a hobby and some of them were just a long winded way of saying *expletive* off.

Do everything you can to make it easy for customers to buy from you, simple things like making the price easy to find, simple clear pictures.  I've seen so many fails here, like dark clothes on a dark background, dimly lit.  Can't see a thing!  Make things easy to find, if you have a Marketplace presence, set the "see item location in Second Life" SLURL to arrive at the same place in the store, place related items nearby.

Avoid fixed teleport that places the customer at the entrance  It breaks the above ability and your own vanity about how cute your store is and they may wish to LM a location inside to come back later.  Customers need to be helped to hand over money, if you want them to have a tour of your fabulous build, do that elsewhere, not at your shop!  Nobody needs to be forced to take a long walk from that lovely entrance.

Avoid regular change of layout  I might remember where stuff was if I keep coming back, keep moving stuff around and it will become confusing and it's just easier to shop elsewhere.

Make pricing obvious Personally, I prefer to see the price on the item, not have to hover over it but there are other ways to approach this depending on circumstance.

Every customer contact is an opportunity to sell Yep, even the complaints!  Get your complaint handling nailed and turn it into an opportunity.

Staff Pick staff that share your principles and values as they will be your "customer face" when you're not around.  The staff that I had were very carefully hand picked from my enthusiastic customers.  Each had different qualities and skills, some were more technical than others but they all were chosen on the basis of "would I trust this person to make a customer happy under any circumstance?" and they were empowered to make whatever decision they felt was needed and received full support from myself and my partner at the time.

You haven't said what you're selling but consider how to facilitate product updates, there are automated solutions out there, plus customer self redelivery are huge value adds.

Again, bottom line, make it easy for people to want to buy from you, that's the big one but there is just one more...

It's Second Life, it's supposed to be fun, for you too, being a merchant can turn into a job, it hugely changed my SL from what I set out to do and although i've had a huge amount of fun doing that too, i'm well into the wrong side of the bell curve now as far as Second Life is concerned, you're just about where I was in 2008 when after being in SL for 8 months, I had an idea and started to learn to make stuff in order to make what was supposed to be just a personal item which morphed into a massive undertaking.

 

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My best advice is to ask in SL itself to other merchants. Linden Labs deletes and removes anythign they see as a potential threat to their integrity here, without real reason. Their help is all cut and paste as well, given mostly from people that barely grasp their own language much less English. 

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My best advice is to not over Photoshop your images. People don't like it when they buy the outfit that looks incredible on the MP or vendor yet looks mheh on their av.  Take pictures with standard lighting, i use avatar optimised whiter, and the just add your info blocks and change the background if needed. I personally cant stand when people add highlights, sparkle, sunbeams or other useless crap that isnt part of the item.

Just my $5L

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Don't rush and think you HAVE to do something. Your products will be the very best quality when you create from the heart, in your own time and when you feel inspired to do so. Don't rush to enter every possible shopping event you see out there. 

If you ever feel down and that your items are simply not able to match the quality you see in some popular stores, open their Flickr or any other website and scroll far away to the time when they began to post their work - you will see that what looks superb today did look quite nooby in the past (and this is normal because we all had to start from the noob stage).

I welcome the desire to change and think that, in order to go forward we all have to change otherwise time runs you over. Never ever fool yourself by thinking "I run my business like this for ages and it has worked in the past, it will work again one day". Try everything, give it a month or two and if it doesn't show any results move on to the next thing. 

Try to have at least some kind of presence on the main social sites for SL businesses (not sure if people named them already... Fb, Flickr, G+, Avatar social network etc. just to name few). But don't think you have to conquer all of them lol, one at a time and not 5 hours a day :) 

Try to be original, informative and interesting, if you go to send a group notice don't forget to include link in the main window - this way people who get notices on their email can read your blog post right there and if they like the item bookmark it or buy, by the time they login the notice will most likely get lost.

Your profile and pics sections should have all important infos about your business, same as any social website/profile you create. I wish you all the best and lots of fun in your future business adventures :)

 

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Customer service. I go out of my way to make customers happy. Refund,  a gift,  whatever to make sure they never have to worry about a purchase from me.  I have a 100% happy policy or refund. I don't argue.  I help customers as fast as I can.  If I can't log,  I'll send a note thro my app letting them know I'll be on later. A beautiful store means nothing if customer service is bad. 

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be sure to educate yourself on what you sell...For instance, if you sell furniture, be sure you know about poses and how to put poses in your furniture. If you are designing for mesh bodies, be sure you know about them as well as the various applier systems...either those made specifically for the body or Omega, etc. If you aren't informed, you'll sound like an idiot when you try to help them or sell something. Keep your ads simple.

I choose not to put the price on the ad but I also have single item vendors. Try to use those or go to the larger multipanel. Either way, if you use the multipanel, don't have more than 2-3 pages to scroll through. More than that, your customers will get annoyed having to page through them. Caspervend is the best IMHO. You can get a free set and only pay a small percentage of your profit until you can afford the full set. When you do get ready to buy, purchase the fatpack. It's cheaper in the long run if you plan to have gift cards, lucky chairs, MM boards, gacha's, etc. One other advantage of the Caspervend is that anything purchased through that system, the customer can get a redelivery from any Casper redelivery terminal in SL, something many look for.

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I would love to personally thank you all so very much for this extremley helpful information that you all have provided me!! Words can't explain how greatful I am to you all :D I hope to have my store up and going soon so everyone can see where I am at and the direction I will be going with my store :) Thank you all so much again

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I'm happy to tell I hardly get any complaints about my items or sales (I sitll use unscripted basic vendors that just work). Usually only questions because they do not read the added notecards with tons of instructions. In those cases I take the time,  just invite them over and teach them how to properly fit items. Usually ending up with having new friends also.

Besides that, afterwards I always give them one or more items for fee also. Next the 'old fashioned' way of selling 'mouth-to-mouth' starts to work. They will tell their friends and before you know it you will have new buying customers. No amount of advertising can beat that!

In my experience most 'complaining' customers do not care about refunding their money at all. They probably spent way more elsewhere than in your shop. All they want is to be heard and helped in some way that makes them happy in the end. Like many above already stated, good customer service sells. I only have one policy in short: "In case of any problem or question, simply contact me and I will solve your problem. Guaranteed!"

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