November 25, 2009

Some new ideas for XStreetSL

I posted the jist of this in the official SL Forums (not the blogs) as a reply in a thread about XStreetSL. See what a couple of glasses of wine will do to one's creativity? :D

I've thought more about the whole idea of listing fees, commissions and maintenance fees and have decided that, if Linden Lab makes needed improvements to XStreetSL, then charges like these could be justified. But, they have to be done in a way that doesn't (as the proposed fees do) unfairly penalize the low price, volume seller at the expense of the high-priced merchnts. And, there has to be a way of dealing with demos (since they are required by hair & skin shops) and freebies (especially those that give back to the community).

So first we start with improving XStreetSL (XSL).
  1. Being able to combine multiple items into one listing is mandatory. This means color, size and possibly prim count variations. Obviously, this means custom selectors. XSL could charge a reasonable premium for such listings but it's really a mutual benefit to the merchant, customer and LL. Fewer listings = more convenience = less clutter.
  2. Search must be improved. Search on title, search on description, search on both, boolean operators that work, etc.
  3. How about a shopping cart and wish list feature for customers? Not critical but would be welcome by most.
OK, once this is done, we put in a listing fee, maintenance fee and commission structure that makes sense. If you take the eBay model, this means listing fees increase as the price of the item goes up, listings expire after xx days and can be relisted and the commission is tiered to selling price. How about something like this:
  1. Charge an up front listing fee of 5% of the item's selling price or $5L whichever is greater. Sell something for $50L and the listing fee is $5L. Sell it for $1000L and the fee goes to $50L. This could also be tiered based on price points (a la eBay), ie. the more expensive the item, the lower the listing percentage.
  2. Lower the sales commission to 4% flat (or some percentage). Or tier it based on selling price. 
  3. Listings expire after 60 days. 30 days is too short. People can elect auto-renew any time.
  4. Price changes trigger a new listing fee. This would keep people from trying to game the system by listing for a low price then raising it immediately to a higher one.
  5. Anything priced less than $5L must go into designated Freebies and Demos areas. No exceptions. Demos must be marked clearly as Demos. If they aren't it's a violation.
I'm not sure what the exact amounts & percentages would be but it seems to me this approach would level the playing field a bit and not penalize freebie sellers.

LL proposed $99 for maintaining a freebie listing is just evil. $10L as a minimum ongoing fee is punitive to low price merchants and discourages offerings diversity. Doing this on top of the 5% commission is the equivalent of saying, screw you customer -- screw you small merchants. Add the fact that LL tried shoving this down everyone's throats based on a few office hour sessions where the outcome was already decided is sad but typical lately.

Unfortunately, instead of doing a little creative thinking or customer listening, I think LL is now simply focused on short-term money grubbing. Combine that with a real "not invented here" attitude at Teh Lab, and I think my ideas are doomed to the waste bin.

November 24, 2009

Inga Wind - *Minuet* Outfit - NEW

New outfit from Inga Wind. Includes hat, belt, boots, sweater, pants and vest. I just love the details on the vest complete with dangly ties and pocket piping. Tres, tres chic!

All prim parts are script adjustable resize with delete option.
Inga Wind Fashion

Collusion on changes to XStreetSL?

 Colossus Linden created a second thread in which he steps deeper into the muck by confirming residents' suspicions that this was an ill-thought-out adventure after all. The programming isn't in place (but it will be in 60 - 90 days), the methods of notification to merchants aren't decided, possible improvements to search aren't locked down, and they haven't confirmed whether an "inactive" listing will be charged a listing fee or whether the item has to active for the $10L fee to kick in.

As a number of people have also noted, one goal is to completely segregate the real freebies from the rest of the market. Which means that demos of products, like shoes or hair, won't be found in the same category as the product itself. Some surprisingly naive statements by Collossus make it clear he doesn't understand GNU or GPL licensing which forces people not to charge. In trying to avoid the minimum commissions, one would have to charge $3L for an item to break-even. If you don't charge something period, you have to pay a $99L/month listing fee. There aren't too many who'll pay that just for privilege of giving it away. LL calls it a "marketing fee" -- I call it a get rid of freebies altogether fee.

In his post,, Brokeback Kaul pulled out the salient points from transcripts of Colossus office hours where all these changes were supposedly vetted. (Note that hardly anyone in the Commerce Community knew these office hours were even being held.) What we see read is Colossus pushing the Lab program forward at each session while a few larger merchants chime in with unconsidered agreement. One in particular, Rachel Darling, sees the whole exercise as a first step to getting rid of freebies and small merchants period. (She's now on my list of merchants to avoid.)

And still, the Lab hasn't figured out how to do very basic color or size selectors, or to create a search system that actually worked -- both of which would cut down on 90% of the clutter. If we can't solve it through technology, we'll charge more and see what shakes out seems to be the attitude.

November 20, 2009

The death of XStreetSL?

Is Linden Lab going to unintentionally kill XStreetSL? It seems that way. They just announced a new fee structure that will certainly hit merchants and customers alike. First there are new listing fees. Freebies will cost the merchant $99L/month and regular items will cost $10L/month. Then there's a new commission structure of $3L or 5% whichever is greater on every sale. The rationale from the Lab for these changes is that it will reduce clutter and "improve" the shopping experience. I quote:
We've received feedback from our users that the volume of free, cheap (L$ 10 and under) & stale listings in the Xstreet SL Marketplace did not make for an optimal experience for shoppers or merchants.
Huh??? Free and cheap items aren't a good experience for shoppers?? That's corporate double-speak if I've ever heard it!

The real problem with XStreetSL is not the items, it's the site itself. Search doesn't work right so you get junk no matter what operators you use. Keywords are spammed. And, most importantly, there is no way of organizing items that vary only in color or size into single listings. So if a seller wants to offer a dress in red, blue, green, yellow and purple, each has to have its own listing. There are other things that could help like allowing seasonal listings (no penalties for takedowns and relists), better categories and even moving freebies off the main site.

But, instead of solving the underlying problems, Linden Labs has chosen a route that makes little or no sense from a business perspective but certainly is probably a lot easier to implement. "Let's charge a bunch of fees and see if we can make more money and have XStreetSL clean itself up!" Poof, no more freebies. Poof, marginal merchants are gone. I've never had a problem with the post-sale commission of 5%, but the upfront listing and maintenance fees will discourage innovation and new products.

And, it's obvious that Linden Lab has NOT been listening to either its merchants or customers. The outrage being expressed by both on the Lab's official blog and forums has been deafening. Many merchants, like myself, have already started deactivating their listings. Some may move elsewhere (some options include, Meta-Life and Some may close up completely. Some may move completely in-world. Or some, like me, may keep a few items on XStreetSL while the remainder are in-world. I have already deactivated some 60 items in preparation for closing out most of my XStreetSL presence.

I have to believe the end result will be a greatly reduced XStreetSL shopping experience and one dominated by large merchants. A lot of really creative "nichey" items will go away. And, with the reduction if freebies, I think general traffic is going to crater. I can't tell you the number of times I've wandered through looking for freebies and bought something expensive that looked cute. But now, no more. Linden Lab MAY end up with a few more incremental $L but I doubt it. The real losers here are the Second Life residents.

November 17, 2009

Inga Wind - Night Fae - Fairytale Formal

I'm totally blown away by this new semi-formal from Inga Wind. There's just an incredible amount of detail from the starry sparkles to the oh so slightly peek-a-boo tummy. The ragged edge prim skirt has to be seen to be believed!!! Includes optional wings, feather boa, shoes and a short skirt version. There's even a wearable "magic wand" that emits particles to match the "snowflakes" in the dress!

November 13, 2009

Inga Wind - Winter Fae Outfit

As you can probably tell from previous posts, Inga Wind is my favorite designer. For style, elegance and details, few can touch her work. "Winter Fae" is no exception. This fairly tale dream includes tiara, shoes, short & long dress options, magic wand and flapping wings. Wearable as costume or as formal. (The twisty buttons in the middle are my fault from the pose I used.)

If I have ONE criticism of Inga's work, it's that most of her items are no copy/no mod/xfer. I prefer copy/mod/no xfer.

Forever Liliana - Enchanted Butterfly - Freebie Cocktail Dress

Keeping on my freebie theme, here's a little number I picked up a few weeks ago and just got around to unpacking! OMG, it's wonderful. Simple, elegant, flirty, risque and perfect for driving your SO crazy. :)

Most of the items in this store are under $150 so it's very affordable fashion.
Forever Liliana

$10L Babydoll from Elemiah Designs

This little number features extreme cuteness, fluffiness and a fuzzy purse. Available in turquoise or red! For only $10L, how can you go wrong?

 Elemiah Designs