Friday, September 11, 2015

Second Life Marketplace and The Death Of The Mom & Pop Shop

SL has changed in many ways since I first started in 2006.  I had played World of Warcraft and explored other virtual worlds before discovering Second Life.  But what made SL excel above the other's for me was the fact that it was created entirely from it's users and that you could actually make real money.  This had talented residents taking their real life interests and passions and creating content in SL to sell.  Clothing, skins and hair are something most every resident will buy at some point. AO's, houses and vehicles are also popular but those off the wall niche items kept SL interesting.  Mall's were full of stores and sim owners made a lot of lindens renting spaces. The larger companies or brands usually had a main store on their own land but the smaller stores or "mom and pop" stores gave the everyday creator a chance to make a little money as well and giving us unusual and fun products.  As the popularity of the SL Marketplace grew we watched the smaller stores start vanishing at an alarming rate.  Those who sold oddities and not your everyday items don't have as much success on Marketplace as they do in-world.  Take for instance the Human Bubble.  The in-world store had a demo and after trying it, it was a must have item.  How many times will anyone search for a human bubble in Marketplace? (Unless you saw someone else have it in-world)
Some of my favorite purchases were items I stumbled on while walking through a shopping mall or going to a club where I had to pass several shops to reach the entrance.  As more people started using Marketplace exclusively, shops were not making enough money to pay tier fee's.  SL's search engine had a small part in the mom & pop stores demise.  Traffic bots made many great stores get lost in the back pages while businesses with fake traffic were at the top of the list. Tag names in store descriptions were misleading and shoppers got frustrated looking through 10 shops before finally finding what they were looking for.  But the Marketplace is to blame for most of the store closings.

Pro's of the SL Marketplace:
Time-It is much faster to look on the Marketplace site then to search for and teleport,, then navigate through a store.
Descriptions: A more complete description of the product, features. prim count and permissions.
More Images- If a product is sold through a vendor poster, it is limited to how many images can be shown but on MP, they can upload many photo's that can be enlarged.
Payment Options: You can pay with either lindens from your in-world account or paypal.
Costumer Reviews: You can read other's experiences of the product.

Con's of the SL Marketplace:
Not as many residents shopping in-world therefore closing many shops and sims.  Many great sims offering entertainment from beaches to amusement parks relied on revenue from shops to stay running.
Costumer Reviews: Many times a customer will receive a product and not read the instructions and give the product a bad review due to their fault.  Or they can't comprehend the instructions and give a bad review.  Competitors have been known to create alts or have friends give bad reviews 
Products sold by MIA creators- There are creators that have put items on the Marketplace then are not online anymore.
Lindens Lab's Commission: LL receives a percentage of every item sold through Marketplace as opposed to in-world purchases.
Dated Products- There is no way of knowing when a product was created so it may have outdated scripts.
Limited and Confusing Search Categories - There needs to be more categories and better itemization.
For example, magazines being found in the Art category or food and drinks under Recreation.

I miss those small, unassuming Mom & Pop shops and the creations they brought to SL  I still stop into the small mall shops and make purchases to show my support but I wish there were still around.

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