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Valid Alternatives to the marketplace?

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Nope, marketplace is the only game in town.

All we can hope for at this point is Linden keep improving marketplace to make it work awesome.

I think it will keep slowly getting better, it has improved a lot already :)

There is a couple alternate web stores existing. Against forum rules to mention them by name I think.

Anyways, they are tiny & if someone set up another one today, it would struggle to capture even a fraction of that tinyness.

Remember Linden are doing direct delivery soon too.

How does any new alternate compete with direct delivery + there is 99% of the market already captured by Linden?

logo-mr-monopoly.jpg

 

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I have to agree with Wade.

Developing something that uses the equivalent of a magic box will only result is something that ends up in the same problems as you experience right now.  Although I suspect that LL has a single thread working its way through the delivery queue and that's a huge part of the problem.  A delivery on my magic box is waiting for the processing thread to finish working through everyone else's orders, yes or no Dakota?

If it were multi-threaded then there'd be no reason why someone else's magic box being queue'd up would prevent others from working like it does right now.

There are no good methods to do guaranteed inworld delivery due to the script functions lacking what is needed and from a pure marketplace perspective, yes network vending system creators could have an API that allowed everyone to plug into a web fronted marketplace and that could have quite a good degreee of presence but it's not trivial.

Who pays for hosting, who manages it and would they sell out to LL when LL wants to kill off the competition for a 3rd time?

I assumed that Apez was bought so that it could be fattened up in the hope of it being bought by LL but it never happened.

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Sassy Romano wrote:

Developing something that uses the equivalent of a magic box will only result is something that ends up in the same problems as you experience right now. 

 

Who pays for hosting, who manages it and would they sell out to LL when LL wants to kill off the competition for a 3rd time?

I assumed that Apez was bought so that it could be fattened up in the hope of it being bought by LL but it never happened.

It worked for SLX , Direct delivery is far from important enough to let it steer the functionality of the actual website

 

I would pay the hosting but it would require a team of people to build/manage. Its too much for any single person. Selling it is also dumb if it were very profitable.

As to Apez... that is a bad choice for a name and that is probably why it never caught on with the masses. I wouldn't buy it or use it.. that is my test.

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WADE1 Jya wrote:

Nope, marketplace is the only game in town.

All we can hope for at this point is Linden keep improving marketplace to make it work awesome.

I think it will keep slowly getting better, it has improved a lot already
:)

There is a couple alternate web stores existing. Against forum rules to mention them by name I think.

Anyways, they are tiny & if someone set up another one today, it would struggle to capture even a fraction of that tinyness.

Remember Linden are doing direct delivery soon too.

How does any new alternate compete with direct delivery + there is 99% of the market already captured by Linden?

Its been a year + and I still cannot sort my featured listings by date or sort my sales by item.. not to mention the huge gaps in category lists or the fact that people are blatantly gaming the site's defects without any consequences.

 

Nobody ever thought that google would kill yahoo's search engine market..  and the reason LL has 99% of the market with their busted up excuse of a webstore is that passive people and pesimists keep preaching that it cannot be done.

oh and another merchant neighbor of mine bit the dust, almost half a sim abandoned and for sale.... no more need for inworld stores anymore I guess since its so easy to just sell everything on the marketplace for 1-9L

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VonGklugelstein Alter wrote:

 It worked for SLX , Direct delivery is far from important enough to let it steer the functionality of the actual website

 

I would pay the hosting but it would require a team of people to build/manage. Its too much for any single person. Selling it is also dumb if it were very profitable.

As to Apez... that is a bad choice for a name and that is probably why it never caught on with the masses. I wouldn't buy it or use it.. that is my test.

The reason why Direct Delivery IS important is because the biggest complaint among customers and merchants is delivery.  Customers care little that reporting for merchants is inadequate, customers care little that listing enhancements aren't what merchants want or that categories aren't what merchants want or that merchants "game" various parts.

As the incumbent, LL has a very strong position and window to their market, they can steer traffic from the Second Life website any which way they want to and so they should.

You've identified that creation of a competitor site is a substantial feat, on top of expensive hosting (you can't do this with the $10 a month plan), there's the development and support staff costs.  I don't think it's a case of pessimists or passive people giving up, just that the smart ones see that there are significant hurdles and at the end of the day, the only thing it has to do to be successful is for customers to pay and receive goods in a timely manner.  Merchants will use whatever system delivers that process and earn income.

As for no need for inworld stores, Marketplace for me is 12%.

As I said, what would be an interesting collective approach would be for all the network vending systems that exist to be able to plug into a web shop.  That would pretty much instantly enable the users of the likes of Hippo, Casper, BSM, Alika and anyone else with similar, to market  products using the same existing system and product management.

 

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there are a couple out there but they aren't going to give you what the marketplace does. The only one that really could compete with the market place is gone now (metaverse exchange). They spent a year or better developing it and then vanished. The problem with a competing site is the same problem you get with malls inworld; you can't get good traffic without good content, and you can't get the good designers without good traffic. Metaverse exchange was a good site with a lot of good features, but they just couldn't attract any of the really good designers. Shopping there was a bit of a crapshoot, there just wasn't that much selection.

Metaverse exchange failed after just over a year, and they had some pretty good financial backing and a team of very talented developers. And they had implemented many of the features I've seen requested from the market place in this forum, and they were working on some new features when they stopped. 

Just saying...it's been tried before :)

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I am considering the setup of a store that just sells PNGs and TGAs and whatnot; mostly for sculpties

Buyers would still have to pay upload fees, I suppose, but it would at least be one kind of alternative service.

I could offer all my stuff on SLM as no-mod demos and link them on the PNG/TGA site.

In the meantime, I'm starting to provide at least one way to draw at least some kind of possible extra traffic to SLM stores:

http://tribes.tribe.net/secondlifemarketplaceproductsearch

Yeah, I know it's a little screwy and the Lindens might complain.

But as I see it, I'm really just doing them a favor and helping them out a little bit until they have some kind of functional search system of their own inside SLM.

How does it work?

It works like this:

http://www.google.com.co/#hl=es&q=fully+functional+scripted+mesh+penis&oq=fully+functional+scripted+mesh+penis&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&gs_sm=e&gs_upl=52123l58528l0l59741l36l35l0l26l26l0l257l1692l0.5.4l9l0&fp=

In case you're wondering, that product is still in development.

The plan is to set a release date after Direct Delivery is up and running without any problems.

(yeah, I AM learning at lot from LL)

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During the time of the listing fee debacle I had my items listed on four of the alternate marketplaces. There was in fact one month that my sales on one of those sites exceeded those on what was then XStreet. If it was true for me it was probably true for others so very quickly LL noticed and backed down. One by one the third party marketplaces died.

So while the SL marketplace is far from ideal, LL is being very careful not to give its merchants any real reason to leave in any great numbers and thus anyone trying to start up will have a long uphill battle to win over customers.

I believe in another thread you railed against the glut of freebies on the Marketplace (historically, BTW there was the same complaint on the SLX and the SL Exchange and probably all other incarnations before I arrived). Well IMO if LL were to either charge listing fees or in some way make the listing of freebies unattractive to merchants, this would be enough of a trigger to start up competing marketplaces. This would ultimately be good for the SL economy, eliminating the monopoly held by the present marketplace and thus opening things up a bit. However, as with the delisting of or listing fees on freebies, LL ain't going to let that happen.

 

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I guess there are a few would-be competing sites out there, but they have virtually no traffic or sales volume.

There's a term in real-world business for what Linden Lab did to the other on-line merchant sites. "Stinking out the competition". It comes from when big corporate meat packing plants would go into a small town, buy out the meat department in a few local stores, sell at a loss locally and brutally undercut the local butchers until the competing butcher's merchandise was literally rotting in their meat lockers and the locals butchers went bankrupt and out of business, and then raising their prices to market rates, now owning the monopoly for meat sales in that town. Stores like Wal Mart are still doing that today, setting up huge stores selling cheap Chinese imported goods at cheap prices, and forcing the local merchants out of a majority of the marketplace. (When was the last time you were able to find a locally-made shirt, pants, or toy in the major stores in your area?)

Linden Lab bought out the two largest on-line marketplaces, shut one down and gave their remaining one a completely unfair edge over all the competition by directly linking SL Marketplace to Search, to the Viewer's inventory, and to absolutely free marketing via links displayed at login, and via direct-mail to users. Furthermore, it is against the rules to post any links to competing services in LL's forums or blogs, too, so we can't even legally discuss alternative merchant sites in the official forums.

Any competing market would have to pay lots of money for advertising to get the word out to a similarly large segment of the Residents that they even exist, but still has has zero access to being able to direct-mail to all SL Residents, has zero access to the ad services that Linden Lab does directly provide, and has zero visibility in Search or from the Inventory links that benefit Marketplace. They would also have to overcome the handicap of being invisible on the official forums. 

How can you compete when the company store has such a solid a monopoly on advertising? You can't.

Independent, resident-run forums could accept ads for other merchant sites, and could run such sites. But the vast majority of the Residents will have no way to find out that those alternatives even exist.

Personally, I really wish Linden Lab would shut Marketplace down, and allow Residents to set up their own independent merchant sites again, with everyone on a level playing field and no one getting such unfair advantages.

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The service I linked above doesn't compete with LL's service for 2 reasons:

1) It just leads people back to SLM anyway.

2) It isn't broken.

 

As regards the question of allowing other markets:

The reason that that won't happen isn't that it would inevitably reduce total LL revenues (it might actually increase them).

The reason that it won't happen is that those services would actually have to work reasonably well to compete with each other... but as long as SLM has a monopoly, there's an endless stream of werid things that that should not happen and that certain people at LL will have to keep getting paid to seem to have fixed. A monopoly keeps the big guy at LL from asking the coders "why can't we have a service just a little more like (any of the services that aren't an endless headache for users)?."

Case in point. the demise of Xstreet is what ultimately made Direct Delivery necessary (think about it).

BTW: Q: what's to prevent people from putting links to alternative services on the description lines (of the actual objects) of freebies offered in SLM?

For that matter, couldn't we, in fact, use the links as the names of free objects, if they were short enough?

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Clyde Lindman wrote:

However, as with the delisting of or listing fees on freebies,
LL ain't going to let that happen.

 

It will be their ticket to the unemployment line.  This is all I am stressing in the other thread.. they are cutting off their own income by allowing it. Any CEO that catches their employees hack at the profit margin of a company in this blatant manner would go ballistic and fire everybody involved.

Free items belong inworld only! This way there is incentive for people to spend time in world instead of laying on the couch on their dingleberries while not even logged on, buying stuff they will probably never even use just because its cheap.


Clyde Lindman wrote:

So while the SL marketplace is far from ideal, LL is being very careful not to give its merchants any real reason to leave in any great numbers and thus anyone trying to start up will have a long uphill battle to win over customers. 

It wouldn't take much to convince some major merchants and if a few of them make a move, the rest will follow . I am still cleaning up the catastrophe they caused me during the merge from SLX to this thing. If I am going to be rewriting listings for the third time, I may as well do it elsewhere too. if my suspicion is correct.. DD will require an insane amount of work as well. 

 

Come to think of it... screw DD.. I have never not received an item I bought on either SLX or SLM so as a customer... besides waiting for a few hrs at times, I never had a failed delivery that I can recall.

 

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also, if Direct Delivery requires a lot of work, that could be an advantage. yes it will be a pain for people but if it meant work to migrate listings, that would also get rid of clutter that just exists due to long expired merchants

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The biggest immediate danger of allowing other markets to compete with SLM in anything like its present form is not that merchants would leave SLM for those other markets; we wouldn't necessarily need to, if it were possible to offer the same line of products in more than one market.

The biggest immediate danger is that, because the other markets might actually provide better service to our customers, there would just be more and more sales on those other markets, even if we continued to list on SLM as a matter of good practice, and even if some of us continued to buy pointless listing enhancements. 

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Josh Susanto wrote:

The biggest
immediate
danger of allowing other markets to compete with SLM in anything like its present form is not that merchants would leave SLM for those other markets; we wouldn't necessarily need to, if it were possible to offer the same line of products in more than one market.

The biggest
immediate
danger is that, because the other markets might actually provide better service to our customers, there would just be more and more sales on those other markets, even if we continued to list on SLM as a matter of good practice, and even if some of us continued to buy pointless listing enhancements. 

Even then, there's little danger to LL, i'm sure in their SWAT analysis, they're not overly concerned about competing marketplaces.

As to the OP''ers suggestion that "It wouldn't take much to convince some major merchants and if a few of them make a move, the rest will follow"...

I doubt it, just like people keep making the same assertion about alternate grids.  It's an additional marketplace, not instead of, unless you wish to spite yourself as a merchant.  I make decisions based on
my
data, not which big merchant goes where, i'm not a sheep.  If I listened to those crying "there's no need for an inworld store", i'd miss out on 88% of my product sales, would that be smart?

It hasn't been said in this thread yet but in the freebie charging days it was suggested that merchants were leaving in droves (all prematurely I might add) but remember the statistic, in any given month, 80% of the items on Marketplace never sold.  So simplistically, remove 80% of the content and nobody would have noticed.  That's a lot of merchants would have to leave to have that impact and i'm sure those "big" merchants (what's big anyway?) are smart enough to realise that despite any frustrations they have with Marketplace, it is the place to be right now.

So in summary, even if there was an alternate web shop, i'm sure most would treat it as an addition to their market portfolio, not a case of leaving the incumbent marketplace unless they just wanted to make a point, a point that nobody would notice.

Von, I look forward to adding your new marketplace to my sales portfolio.

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There's an important difference between other marketplaces and other grids.

With other markets, the product would still end up in SL, so they'd just be providing more of the same service.

With alternate grids, there's nothing there that's also in SL unless if has also been loaded there, so it's not really just more of the same thing being offered. 

In the long-term, other grids might some day be a serious threat to SL. But in order to get to position where they can afford to start worrying about they, LL will need to fix more imminent threats, such as potential loss of profitability due to things like the money they're currently throwing away reducing total consumer utility just to be sure they're the only entity that gets ot provide it.

That users can't easily shop around for marketing services at least no worse that the SLM seems like it's bound to be a pretty significant deterrent to other user activity that would be profitable to LL.

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Sassy Romano wrote:

 

Even then, there's little danger to LL, i'm sure in their SWAT analysis, they're not overly concerned about competing marketplaces.

As to the OP''ers suggestion that "It wouldn't take much to convince some major merchants and if a few of them make a move, the rest will follow"...

I doubt it, just like people keep making the same assertion about alternate grids.  It's an additional marketplace, not instead of, unless you wish to spite yourself as a merchant.  I make decisions based on
my
data, not which big merchant goes where, i'm not a sheep.

It hasn't been said in this thread yet but in the freebie charging days it was suggested that merchants were leaving in droves (all prematurely I might add) but remember the statistic, in any given month, 80% of the items on Marketplace never sold.  So simplistically, remove 80% of the content and nobody would have noticed.  That's a lot of merchants would have to leave to have that impact and i'm sure those "big" merchants (what's big anyway?) are smart enough to realise that despite any frustrations they have with Marketplace, it is the place to be right now.

So in summary, even if there was an alternate web shop, i'm sure most would treat it as an addition to their market portfolio, not a case of leaving the incumbent marketplace unless they just wanted to make a point, a point that nobody would notice.


While reading this thread the same thought came in my mind.

 

In those days, when that roadmap was announced with the plan for paying for listings on the MP, it was a very good time for alternate marketplaces. There was a lot of protest any many people took their merchandise from Xstreet (Xgreed) - or at least they said they did so -. Existing marketplace services were booming and new ones arrived.

I never saw a reason to take my merchandise from xstreet, but I started listing my merchandise on two alternate marketplaces as well. It's a matter of betting on several horses.

After a few months I could conclude that it was lost time to list my products there. I had more sales on Xstreet in one day, then I had on the other two together in half a year. I stopped listing new products on those marketplace. The time spend on adjusting the listing for those sites, was better spend on making new products.

The problem was not the merchants didn't want to offer their merchandise on those alternate marketplace. The problem was that customers didn't know of their existance.

I fully subscribe was Ceera said: You cannot compete when the company store has the monopoly on advertising. 

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Josh Susanto wrote:

There's an important difference between other marketplaces and other grids.

With other markets, the product would still end up in SL, so they'd just be providing more of the same service.

With alternate grids, there's nothing there that's also in SL unless if has also been loaded there, so it's not really just more of the same thing being offered. 

I don't see the distinction.  If my objective is to make a product and sell it as widely as possible, i'd sell it on SL and any other grid where it was worth my time.  I don't care if it ends up in SL or not.  It's the "market" that i'm playing to.

Same here, doesn't matter where the content ends up or which store I use.  What I won't do is have a hissy fit and take my items off SL and go and start up on another grid (or webstore) if there's no customer base.

 

 

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No and I quoted you exactly when you said "make a move and the others will follow".  However, interpreting "move", that implies go from one place to another.  Expand would be to add other outlets.  Sorry to be pedantic

Either way, if the disatisfaction with MP exists, moving or expanding to alternates has to be judged in the ROI of time and there's little evidence to suggest that such ROI of time exists, or even would exist.  Just my observation.

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Tried to suggest at one point earlier on that the Marketplace create its own alternatives. Meaning that if products were available via an external API, then people could build their own versions of the Marketplace, or specialized markets (for say fashion, building tools, etc) by tapping into this API.

That would enable people to put together their own markets using existing products from the Marketplace, and selling those products on their own websites. 3rd party websites could be making money on commissions/affiliate sales.

SLM (and LL) simply do not need a 5% commission to operate as a L$ sink or as revenue. This 5% could easily be earned by those running their own versions of SLM using the same products. The whole LL needing commissions and listing fees to justify itself, or earning its own revenue was always a myth.

I think that window too is also passed, because rather than designing the Marketplace as a web service that accesses products (individual or by category, etc.), it was designed on top of a traditional shopping cart.

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Yeah Dartagan, your idea (or anything similar to it) is much better because it creates a distributed network.

The current style which marketplace uses: one single node of distribution with a linear stack of goods -- is inherently weak. It forces the huge diversity of UGC through the eye of a needle, guaranteeing that a very large portion of goods will never be seen.

Structural issues aside.... it is kinda broken in some respects.

I think Lindens still don't have Lucene set up properly yet, or perhaps Lucene is just not appropriate for this application. Specifically I think they are misusing the WildcardQuery builder, as you see listings that contain only the word "category" show up when you are searching for cat & numerous other similar relevancy problems.

Anyway, the one node style here, it cuts off what is called "the long tail" so best Lindens could hope for is 50% of potential gains. Also, marketplace directly competes with what is offered inworld, reducing merchant's need to own land, so less people will build & offer these experiences-- & less people will go inworld to see these experiences.

It ain't the best possible setup here yet....

Luckily, we could presume the current state of marketplace is not its final form :)

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Thanks for getting that the first time around, heheh. Explained that to two Lindens from the previous commerce team and got "oh, we have an afilliate program of sorts, Dart". After explaining that's not what I meant, it got lost in the shuffle. But right, they could have created a way for others to create their own Marketplaces with a fraction of the work and earn 5% commission by adding value and features on top of the products.

Share the wealth thinking is lacking.

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