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Advice for new merchant


EllieAnne Silverfall
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Hi, ok.. trying again, but going to word things differently. I've just recently started designing mesh decorative items/furniture. I haven't created a ton yet (a bit more than a handful of items). I know I can list on marketplace, but I am looking for advice on how and where to enter the market in world. Eventually, I plant to set up a store on my own property. In the meantime, I am looking for ideas as to where I might find a booth to rent in a sim that gets good traffic and that other, more experienced, merchants here have had success with (which is why I am asking here, rather than in a rental/property forum) - OR - other advice as to how to get started in world. 

Thanks a bunch!!

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I've rented mall space before, but haven't done so for years. That's because I sold more stuff from a shop behind a secret door. I sold more stuff when I started out by throwing it on my land (next to a Linden road) and setting it for sale, with no proper shop front or vendor pictures. Malls eat money and don't give much back in the majority of cases. This includes places that had a fair few real people hanging around. Most never entered the shops. I suspect the reason you didn't get a lot of answers before is that most people have had similar experiences to mine, perhaps without the part about setting up a shop behind a secret door.

Mall-like events can be hit or miss. Fantasy Faire is always great for me, but I've done others where no one came (or they only came to visit the breedables section and not the rest). The season for signing up for that sort of event is mostly done, but by next year, you should have a shop ready and can apply if relevant.

So, my advice is to skip malls and go straight to making your own shop and getting stuff on the marketplace. You can start small with that route. The first shop just needs to be some boxes set for sale and examples of each item beside them. If prims are tight, just rez a few prime examples of your work. Do pick a sensible location to landmark, so you can keep that as your landing point as you build your shop around it.

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 I have to basically agree -- well I don't have to but I do -- with @Polenth Yue

In the olden days before the Marketplace or the precursor TO the marketplace people shopped inworld more. Now events are the thing so eventually getting into some name events (my rule is if they are not listed on Seraphim I don't want to be there :D) would be good. Not easy however. 

Do the marketplace and make small shop. You can rent a 512 for close to nothing and make a nice shop in the air if needed. 

IT TAKES TIME. I have been here almost ten years and just starting to do well. Others, with perhaps better marketing do better -- so concentrate on what you love to do and just let things happen. But malls are pretty much a waste these days. I haven't been to one in years really. 

 

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There are no rules for when to start with a shop...being proud and wanting to share should do.

Even if you have just one item to sell, set it for sale! Find a nice road side parcel on mainland and go for it! Why mainland? That is still there tomorrow when you log in again. Also, high traffic sims can be abandoned tomorrow, don't focus on that too much.

Set up your marketplace, if you did not already, and also set up your inworld shop.

On your marketplace, include a link to the item in world (See item in world), where potential customers really end up in front of that item, not just in front of a box with the same image you used for your marketplace listing. And when you can't afford to have all your items rezzed at the same time, plenty solutions for that!

 

 

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I agree with Chic and Polenth. As a new, unknown business, traffic will be minimal and malls aren't going to generate the traffic you need to get decent exposure. Investing a lot into a prime location is going to give you a lot of expense with minimal return. Instead utilize the land that you have or rent a space with minimal cost (even a platform). Most of the traffic you get there will be those you drive there via marketing or those wanting to see the products in world from having found it on the MP.

I haven't seen the items you've made but I suggest you take some time to see what the market offers and make sure your prices are in-line with the quality of the product you're offering. Random accessories are OK but building sets are important and I'd suggest sticking to a general style until you can generate some product. This means that people will be able to mix and match your stuff more effectively between your sets. That is good for sales!

 

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Once you've experimented awhile it could be good to stick to a beloved theme for a period of time (for example, are you interested in Medieval items, more modern ones, or perhaps fantasy).
Then, renting a shop in that community is a good way to go, even if a mall.
Eventually you could create in a more eclectic way, but to begin I think this is a good way to get your foot in the door and increase sales and exposure.

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Thank you all for your replies. I currently rent a 1/3 sim that I think I can set up shop as well... I had thought about it already, but wondered how to generate traffic, which is why I was asking if anyone had success renting a booth (I hear not). I also haven't utilized my free 512 yet, so I was thinking t do that too. I am going to set up MP for sure, even if it means I need to sideline my gacha resells for now. My items will eventually be fairly eclectic decor items, but I am doing that on purpose. I love to mix and match items, modern, vintage, etc, so I intend to offer anything I feel like making lol. I am focusing a bit on vintage/antique decor items for now, but intend to get myself up to furniture. I thin I'll leave the moving objects for down the road. I guess I know what I'll be doing tonight (MP). In the meantime, if anyone wants to message me some in world booth ideas (why not be in a few places?) I would be very grateful. 

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Setup an MP store with an alt for your gacha stuff. This way nothing has to be get "sidelined" ... If its not going to cost you extra then sure, but a secondary or even a third location isn't going to make all that much of a difference for you at this point. Foot traffic isn't the most cost effective or best way to gain exposure and while marketing has always been an important part of generating business—it is even more so today. The reason I say that is because a lot of people don't shop the same way that they did in years past.

Let's say I decide to hit up the mainstore for one of the brands I shop at. I get there and I go in. My focus is to get there and shop. A lot of residents then become oblivious to other stores either directly around the shop or even in that sim. I am dumbfounded when I realize that some of my favorite stores are in the same general area as another store I shop at.

So based on the traffic that goes to that sim, only a percentage of those people are going to actively walk around and explore. An even smaller percentage is going to be looking for home furnishing goods and then lastly the question is "are they interested in your product" ... Marketing is going to connect you to the an audience that is interested in home goods and potentially your brand.

Events can be decent for booths but not every event is created equal and the quality of that product and the connections you make will ultimately limit the events you can get into. But that is a whole other discussion. The best advice I can give is to make the best product you can and price it right. 

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My advice for things I tried, what worked and what didn't

Marketplace with with good images and a slurl to where it can be seen in world.  Most purchases are on the MP but I think having an in world location gives customers confidence. We started with a tiny store in the sky above our home which was a light commercial sim so there was no issue with the covenant.  

I tried mall stores in some locations and found this NOT to be successful.  As others have said not many people shop in malls. We picked up the odd passing trade sale but nothing close to covering the cost of the rental.

I applied for lots of events. The big ones are hard to get into but the smaller ones at least we made enough sales to cover costs especially if the event was themed to what we were selling. 

Eventually we outgrew our little store and so expanded and actively started trying to drive traffic to the in world store. Hunts were a great way for this and we did notice in world sales rise during a hunt.  Another way is the one day "insert $L amount" events where you reduce at least one item to the event price and members of that group will come to see and hopefully buy your item, notice your brand and maybe buy something else.

Advertising in appropriate in world groups, especially if you can offer a free gift, brings exposure to your brand.  I was stunned how much flickr brings exposure too.  There are literally 100's and 100's of SL related flickr groups for you to share your latest product info. Doing this got us requests from people to blog our stuff.  This is a bit of a minefield as some of them just want free stuff but others have a real passion for it and produce lovely images of your product, sharing it with the groups they are in so more exposure  So we now have a small blogger group that we use each time we have a new release.

Advertising and promoting can be hard work but I think over time it works.  There are 2 of us, him doing all the creating and my role the advertising. It frees him up to just create and not have to worry about the advertising part except when I say "we are in this event next month. It has a theme, can you make a gift too?"   

In my experience I wouldn't bother with booths unless its a particular event booth for a fair that suits the product you are selling.  I would use your 512 to start an in world location where you can join hunts or L$ one day events to bring people to the store.  This keeps your costs down while you build your brand.  

Anyway that's just my advice taken from what worked for us. Have fun and enjoy your creating :)

 

Edited by Cindy Evanier
early morning typos
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