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Luckies: Are they helping to kill in-world stores?


Sakura Rajal
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Before I start, yes I know that marketplace plays a huge factor in today's secondlife.

I’ve had my store since ‘09 on marketplace/slx/etc. I opened up a in-world store via vendors and eventually moved into a more “settled” position. I am not huge by any name but I still make  a good portion of my income in second life (and it only stays in second life) through my store. But I’ve noticed lately, that my lucky board and chair have been getting more action than both my marketplace store and vendors combined. And yeah I am well aware of the economic hardships both in RL and in SL have affected both. (I do hope that they improve soon though)

Granted, I don’t advertise but only in groups that I’ve been invited to and what not.
But I’ve noticed, that more and more people are becoming (I don’t want to use the word cheapskates..) well freebie hunters. I’m all for a good freebie, but I’m starting to wonder if people even care if the store owner even stays open?
What are your thoughts on this?

 

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I think if anything is killing some inworld stores it is not primarily the prevalence of free items promotions like "Luckies", although I agree this marketing tactic is over-used in SL to many a merchant's detriment!

More to blame would be the balance of sellers to buyers and this has lead to saturation of most markets. So many people selling & more open up shop every day... many dreaming big to become rich in SL... but how many virtual good consumers are there to go around for all these people?

Another thing causing inworld stores to suffer is many relied on rapid growth of SL population. With slower growth rate, or a plateau of population, it is much harder to do any business, while doing the same business during the last big hype-curve of SL was a no-brainer! Luckily, Linden Lab is working hard on this as a goal now... working to attract more residents... and attracting the right kind of residents, the ones who think Second Life is worth something & who do care if our stores stay open :matte-motes-grin:

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I think one needs to first consider their purpose. Is it to generate traffic for your traffic count in hopes of getting a higher search ranking? or is it to bring new shoppers into your store? If it's new shoppers, do you think this is incentive enough for them to hang our for hours waiting for the letter to come up? or perhaps a thank you for the customers you already have.

Any of those reasons are weak and do little to improve your income. The original idea of campers and such are from the old days where Linden Labs used to pay us for traffic.  At that time, we received a stipend for all traffic and that was how you made your money...you built a hot sim and filled it up. It benefited SL and they rewarded us.  It ended around the time free accounts came out and all that remained was the Traffic ranking that helped your search or to get into the Popular Places tab.

Today, one needs to be more creative to generate traffic and most of the methods are very real world methods. Good marketing, creative advertising, quality products, stellar support and incentives for your existing customer base to shop more and bring their friends.

In the end, Lucky Chairs, Campers and such are just another way to lag your sim.  If they do attract anyone, it's usually people that dont have any money anyways.  Manage your groups, provide them special incentives when new products come out and advertise.  in the end, you will see much more valed success than from a lucky chair.

 

 

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If you ask me, SL has had the same problem for the last 13 months. What is that? SEARCH!!!

LL has done much lately to improve things for newbs, but they are never going to see things turn around until they seriously address the inworld search problem. Every single indicator shows the real decline starting in April 2010, exactly when the new search was introduced.

New signups have always remained steady for the past 3-4 years, and it is still doing very well today. So, how does the signups amounts not change, but the concurrency not grow? It basically means that people are attracted enough to come in, but then never comeback. So, why is this? Maybe it is because they can't find anything. Search was not perfect before the change, but the change made search unusable, ontop of the V2 search problems. If we do not have a decent search, then none of the greatness and variety of SL can be shown off. Sure, the destination guide is great, but this can not make up for a good working search engine.

lol, maybe the lucky chair is the only keywords working well for you.

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WADE1 Jya wrote:

More to blame would be the balance of sellers to buyers and this has lead to saturation of most markets. So many people selling & more open up shop every day... many dreaming big to become rich in SL... but how many virtual good consumers are there to go around for all these people?

 

 

That is what I see as in important cause as well, Wade. We have about 50.000 merchants. Let's assume that every merchant releases one new item per week. Then in a year we make (52 x 50.000) about 2,5 milion items. Now for three years there is no growth in SL, but this doesn't stop the production. Because on the production side of SL are creative people. Most of them will create anyway, because they just love to do it, because they are hooked on creating. The creative urge is something that goes it's own way, independent from economic trends or how the market behaves. And that is why this huge pile of virtual goods keeps growing every day, while the number of buyers is not growing anymore.

But the more we produce,the higher the pile becomes and the harder it gets to get attention for our creations. In fact by keeping producing in an economical tide where the demand on the market is in stagnating or declining you are digging a grave, it can be your own grave or that of your fellow merchant.

 

 

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Inworld stores are suffering due to a number of things, but not lucky chairs and things like that.

Imo, the biggest cause is LL's unscrupulous activites with the marketplace. In spite of the fact that, technically, the marketplace continues to be a complete joke, LL push it everywherre they can - all over the website, people's account pages, bulk emails, etc., and they do it at the direct expense of inworld stores. The SL population continually turns over so a large chunk of the current population, perhaps most of them, don't know a time before the marketplace and, to them, it's the standard way of buying things - with inworld stores probably being something of a novelty or merely a secondary method.

 

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True.

If I had to sell in-world, I wouldn't even bother.

Only offworld sales allow my work to be cost-effective.

Some things need to be seen in-world in order to justify the sale price. When it comes to rock prims, though, in-world sales efforts are bound to a loss, even without my copymods pushing down market prices for rocks. When I hear people complian about th marketplace killing their in-world sales, it makes me think they may have the wrong venue for their products in terms of overhead costs putting them in an uncompetitive position.

Adding in-world search failure does not help in-world merchants, though. I suppose that someone at LL might perceive it to be a problem not worth fixing because they think in-world search failure inevitably means more commissionable sales on the market. I am inclined to disagree with such thinking, though.  ANY reduced functionality more likely stands to reduce LL revenues in the long-term because it simply makes people less inclined to use SL.

Moreover; although I am not dependent on in-world search, and my competitors are, I would like to see it fixed anyway because its failures reduce concurrency; a variable that has continued to decline even as new user accounts continue to accumulate. It's not certain that more concurrency inevitably means more sales, but it's reasonable to believe that limits to concurrency will translate into limitations in sales.

N00bs only mean more sales if they stick around.

If even seasoned users won't do that, why should the n00bs?

So fix what? Fix EVERYTHING. 

Even if luckys are considered to be abusive, it hardly matters. One kind of abuse will always replace another, and preventing debateable abuses will just give LL more distractions they don't need while trying to get things to at least work so they can be abused or unabused as an intended stystem would allow.

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I don't think Lucky Chairs, Camping, Prize Chairs,Mob Vends, or any of the other devices have hurt the economy.  In fact I think the Labs banning them hurt the economy...they were fun for customers and in the case of camping helped our nooblets gain a little linden as well as gave them something to do.  When I first arrived I searched for money trees, camping and the merchants who provided them taught me about SL.  I dressed myself by joining a lucky chair group where I met lots of other people to talk with.  We would tp each other to the chairs or mob vends as a social event. I learned to use search and to navigate the world; because of these items I stayed in SL.  Without them I might have left because I could not figure out what to do here...I didn't gamble, want to cyber or hang out in a club and I did not have any Linden.  When our shop opened in 06 we offered all these vehicles for our customers until LL told us we had to remove them all.

I think substituting a free home on Linden land instead of first land was also a mistake...by giving everything you take away the interaction.  Deciding where I wanted to live, finding the land, buying my free land and then putting up my own house was fun!  It was very quest like and took me quite awhile to complete...it kept me engaged.

The other 3 things that I think have hurt the economy are: Freebies- If your work is often free then soon it has no value at all.  Search - They broke it, then they messed with it every month so merchants could not figure out how to work with it and shoppers couldn't find what they wanted.  Viewer: Don't even want to start on how clunky and unintuitive that is.

So imno we have become a boring rule ridden society.  New comers have nothing to engage them until they find their niche.   Expectations set up for everything being free or cheap. And it is difficult to navigate because of search and the Viewer

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I've been in business about 2 and a half years and there has been a big decline in the last year like Medue says does appear to correspond to search changes.

SL is a really great place to spend recreational time, it's not just about shopping but shopping is a big part of the whole experience. Lucky chairs and in-world freebies are also an important part of the SL experience.

I think the marketplace has been too successful and it is killing in-world shops and devaluing the entire SL experience. For me sales are half what they were a year ago and in that time I've released loads more products too.

For the sake of SL's future the Lindens need to switch the balance back to shopping in world.

I think a big hike in marketplace commission would help and a fixed monthly fee per shop rather than per product could also help with improving the quality of products in the marketplace.

In return in-world shops need more support. Classified ads are a waste of time as they stand, hugely expensive and ineffective. We need something like classified ad's associated with keywords.

I love SL but Lindens please GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER, the kitties need your support.

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I agree with both Phil and Lyra it,s not Lucky chairs et al that are destroying inworld trade it,s LL policy.

 The greed that made them seek to gobble up all TP competition and keep all the revenue themselves is the root cause of the decline(stagnation) imho.Coupled with Linden homes, themed islands and all other stuff that the company want to control and take a profit.

I had  no problems paying 5% to Sl boutique after all it was a shop just like mine and needed to make a profit.

I have have a real problem paying 5% on top of all the other expenses that you must pay to LL.and it keeps growing.

Premium,Ludicrous tier,10L$  uploads,search fees,advert fees,5% sales tax,cash out fee and more to come?

LL should stop competing with their paying customers and run the grid.

I can't see the point in creating 3D stuff that is mainly viewed in 2D.  If the need for a shop finally goes,  then,  LL will not be far behind it.

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There are many things that are harming in world buisness but luckies or freebies are not any of them. After all you WANT people to get familiar with your products, and new players usually dont have the lindens, The trick is offering something that impresses the customer enough that they come back later and actually BUY your products. So offering freebies/lucky chairs/boards/Midnight madness/manias etc. Attract those who dont have the lindens, chances are 75% of those people will end up putting RL$ in the game or get jobs in game to support their shopping habits. This is quite usefull but shouldnt be relied on as the ONLY method of generating traffic. I get the most sales by doing themed hunts that fit my merchandise. And by advertising in groups that also fit my theme. 


But I believe the problems harming shops most are
Lag and the overall bustedness that we call SL: Noone wants to spent an hour browsing a small shop when they cant walk across it or the photos wont load. Or TP's fail. The total UNRELIABILITY of SL forces more and more people to either shop the marketplace or not at all. 
Busted and or USLESS search both in world and in the marketplace. Getting 10,000 NON related results sure ain't helping


Huge laggy shop builds poorly designed with loads of sculptys and scripts, particles etc. : Again people don't want to spent half an hour repeadedly walking across your huge shop that is so poorly designed that it overwhelms the average persons video cards. 

If LL would fix the basics so the game ran more smoothly I'd like to think many of these problems would be moot as people wouldnt be leaving in drives and new ones would actually WANT to stay. 

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