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TheEschaton

Advice for a merchant starting out?

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Hi guys,

First of all, I apologize if a thread like this already exists.  I could have sworn I'd read one like it before, but I went back ten pages and couldn't find it. 

I'm looking to start an in world business for the first time in five years.  I want to sell fantasy styled building kits.  With that said: I've got my meshes all finished and uploaded,  got my tier free 1024 plot, - but now I'd like some advice before I pull the trigger and get my vendors up.  You guys seem pretty helpful and this forum represents a lot of collective experience doing business in Second Life. 

What advice can you guys give someone starting out again?  I mean anything from item naming conventions, to unpackers, to little tips like placing a picture of the add inside the box.  I need an updater and I've read into various vendor systems, but it would also be nice to hear your guy's thoughts there as well. 

Anyhow, I appreciate in advance you guys taking the time to read this and post any sort of helpful tips you might have!

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Hello there!

Let me try answering your questions from both a merchants and customer's point of view.
1. I highly recommend putting your store name as the first thing of your item name i.e. [StoreName] Fantasy Kit
     You can have your store name in brackets or -, /, ! in front or are around it or whatever else you think is good. Key is to keep it consistent. If someone purchases 
     several productsof yours it will place the folders in their inventory one below the other. It makes things much easier to find and tells the customer right away
     which store their inventory folder is from.

2. Unpackers: I always just use a simple box that you open the old fashioned way since I am not making clothes. I am not sure what people actually prefer, but
    whatever you use pleasekeep the box low Li! I've had it before that I was un boxing things just to rez a 30 Li of an elaborate box that was at the time more Li    
    than my entire house! Keep it 1 Li or 2 Li you neverknow how much space your custo mer has left on their land.

3. Always put your vendor picture in the box! And always make it full perm, why? If someone loves your work and wants to let friends know a picture says more
    than a thousand words. They can simply drop your vendor pic into an IM and that's free advertising for you! A lot of merchants don't realize this and keep the
    pics perms as no transfer.

4. I highly recommend CasperTech, not only has it a lot of incredibly nice functions, the support both by group members but also the staff is top notch. It also has
    addons you can purchase if you don't go for the premium pack that already has them: Holorezzer, Giftcards, Lucky Chairs etc.

 

Some general pointers I like giving new merchants who ask:

- Keep things consistent! Item Names, Brand, Vendor Images - it makes everything easier to navigate and looks a lot more polished than if your Vendor images are all
   over the place stylewise.
- Demos; whether it's a demo copy of an item, a rezzed item a your store, an item in a holo rezzer, people want to see before they buy! This goes for all sorts of
  different product categories. People are less likely to buy the cat in the sack.
- Advertise/Marketing, know your customer base and advertize in appropiate groups, use social media & blogs to your advantage. You need to be very pro-active, it's
   just like in RL. People may stumble over a little hole in the wall shop but you won't bring in the masses simply because they don't know you're there!
  Joining RFL fundraisers, hunts, sales events, expo's have worked very well for me in the past.
 

That's it for now, I'm sure other people will have a lot of things to add!

Edited by Syn Anatine
Messed up formatting
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On 23/03/2018 at 11:19 AM, Syn Anatine said:

1. I highly recommend putting your store name as the first thing of your item name i.e. [StoreName] Fantasy Kit
     You can have your store name in brackets or -, /, ! in front or are around it or whatever else you think is good. Key is to keep it consistent. If someone purchases 
     several productsof yours it will place the folders in their inventory one below the other. It makes things much easier to find and tells the customer right away
     which store their inventory folder is from.

ITEM NAMING

This applies not only on boxing rules, but naming all the items in the box the same way - NC, textures, items ... everything. Search your own inventory by your store name to see  why.

PROFILE

Your profile is the first advertising starting point and  most important info point, so fill it with everything you think is important for your store:


⋙ Don't go for a sexy profile picture, but with something that will represent your shop or nice closeup of your self.
⋙ Put short shop description and SLURL into profile description box
⋙ Keep your LM's in Picks updated!
⋙ Your shop picks should be the first and private ones at the bottom.
⋙ Include contact info, shop description, short tos, custom work info ... what you think is important but in short form
⋙ Make it readable! Separate lines are always better, as people are more "scaning" than reading. Use symbols to separate them.

 

CLASSIFIED

Use Classified in your profile, 50l per week is enough. Don't forget to check "Auto-renew each week" box.

Some symbols as bracket are not acceptable for classified Title. If you use them in your shop name, be sure to repeat original shop name in the description filed.

Think of some nice text for description filed in Classified, rather than just bunch of keywords. Remember, what ever you do, say or type is telling more about you than you would think.

 

LOGO

We all have changed logo several time, but choose some elements that will stay consistent in every future version. That can be font, brackets, one symbol ... what ever you choose to represent the core of your shop logo.

Make several sizes of the logo - 1:1 and 1:2 are must!

Make "tiny" version, something that can be stuck in any corner of your box.

Keep font on logo readable!

 

VENDOR IMAGES

Find something in common for all of them - color scheme, layout, font - that will stay consistent.

Make as best images as you can.

Include most important informations.

 

LAND

It is good you have started small, but if your shop grows, keep one thing in mind:

Never, ever go for more than you really need!

You need your shop prims (obviously) and some % for your building needs.

Paying for lot of empty prims for a long time, is the best way to ruin your own job.

Low expanses (as low as they can be) are equally important as income.

Put your land in search in land options for 30L/week.

 

SHOP

Forget about traffic! It is for clubs and maybe rentals. Provide the best possible info in your shop and the easiest way for people to find what they are looking for as quick as possible. If they are happy, they will  come back for more. You can not keep them other way in your shop on the long run.

Set some regular intervals for new releases. It is good for advertising, as well as for your working rhythm.

Join some sales groups, but read terms well! Also, make good quality items for sales. Don't go under your own standards.

Create your own sale event.

Get a visitor greeter, but avoid those will profile display.

No particles nor followers or any other fancy-shmancy lag creating gadget. Keep it simple, organized and low lag.

Info point is must.


MARKETPLACE

Main listing picture: make is stand out on search pages.

Choose your keywords wisely and use only those really describing your item.

Dong go for a long "novel -type" text. As I said, people are more scanning than reading.

Include all relevant info in images.

Use item title in descriptive manner - add few descriptive words in  a from of sentence to the basic item title.

See item in SL - set SLURL the closest as it can be to the in particular item in your shop.

Use Download info - it is PDF option you can use to present your item with more interesting pictures and layout, but again, keep it simple.

Again, separate sections of the text in description filed with some acceptable symbols.

Learn to use bulk edit and quick fill.

Be sure your item is in right category.

Upload regularly, don't allow items to clutter or you will find your self in MP upload frustrating hell! Same goes for Caper vendors.


CASPER

Go for Casper from day one!

There is free version that will charge you 5% commission per sale - if I remember well. But, if you are sure you are about to give your best to make your shop working in SL, investing in Casper will be way cheaper in the long run. If you start with free version, you will always be able to switch to another one no worry. Search more info in Casper related pages.

Connect your Casper system with MP via ANS (or something like that), even if you probably will have to re-associate items regularly.


CUSTOMERS

What ever happen, do not take it personally! There are all kind of people out there, from incredibly nice and sweet, to incredibly rude. You can not make them all happy! But you must always keep conversion polite on our side.

Never, ever address your customer as hon, hunny, dear, darling ... even if they are doing that! That kind of familiarity with someone you don't know is not acceptable. Personally, I consider it as very rude manner. If you get friend with someone over time - of course that is another story.

Stretch as much as you can to help your customers, to support, to explain and teach. But know where is the limit. Think of few polite, but firm ways to say "no" or stop conversation. Never argue!

Keep an eye on IMs or NCs regularly and try to respond the fastest and quickest you can.

Face the fact - most of people do not read all the info. Be patient. You will have to repeat the same things over and over again.

 

GROUP/SUBSCRIBER

Never add people to group or subscriber without asking them first.

To boost the group, you will probably  have to organize some group gifts/discounts from time to time. Or having regular group discount in setup with your Casper. People are rarely join the group just for information.

Think of some nice group description text. That is your second info point!

Get your self subscriber and online sender for sale events if you plan any,


ROLE PLAY!

Role play as one of you customer! Try to put your self into their shoes. I really had no idea what my customers are facing with till I've decided to design couple of items, with textures, scripts, animations ... I was stunned with amount of job one builder has! Plus, I've got few good ideas for my own business from that process.

 

SOCIAL

You can not cover them all. Choose what you think is the best and easiest to handle. Otherwise you will spend more time on FB, twitter, plurk or what ever other network than creating.

 

TAKE CARE OF YOUR SELF

Setup your working hours! Eat regularly! Don't forget to visit the loo! Go to walk. Stretch your body from time to time. Don't find your self with sitting knees pain after a few years of work in SL. It is easy to stay stuck in front of the screen for 15 hours not even noticing it. Make your life rhythm.

At the end, be prepared for mistakes - on your side and your customer side. We are all just humans.

 

Edited by RohanaRaven Zerbino
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3 hours ago, RohanaRaven Zerbino said:

snip

Firstly, thank you so much for this well thought out post, it truly covers it all!

Secondly, could I possibly get your permission to save this in notecard format and pass it on to newly starting merchants who have questions? Full credit given of course :)

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Also as your store is new now is the right time to set up social media.  Set up a Facebook page so you can post releases and also Flickr (just be a little careful on the later they don’t like ads but nothing wrong with sharing nice images of your products).

Start to follow others on both so you can start to interact and gradually your store will get follows.  Chat to other creators and customers.  Have a look at how the larger stores interact they get some ideas. There is a huge community of creators on Facebook who share SL advice and support one another (feel free to look me up for friendship and you can use my friends list to expand your connections).  Many customers buy in to you as well as your products so this helps bring active.

Perhaps also consider seeing about joining an event or hunt when you feel the time is right.  It will help your products get exposure.  Some can be painful to get into but there are a huge wealth of great events who suppport new stores as well as established ones.

Finally always trust your own instincts and go your own way.   It is such fun starting a store so enjoy the journey! 

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8 hours ago, Syn Anatine said:

Secondly, could I possibly get your permission to save this in notecard format and pass it on to newly starting merchants who have questions?

Of course Syn, I would be more than happy if anyone find it usefull! :)

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