The Future of Commerce in Second Life

Those on the SLCC 2011 panel are; Jeff – Sr. Business Dev Strategy and Planning, Brook Linden – Merchant Services and owner of the Market Place, Thor Linden – Economic Overseer & Strategic Operations or SEARCH, Colossus Linden – Payment systems. Forgive me if I misspelled a name. Also, I never did catch Jeff’s avatar name.

Image by: danielbroche @ Flickr

The Commerce Team is hard to find. SL Groups Search from the web page is broken today. The Second Life Commerce Merchants group was apparently created for XStreetSL.  There is an SL Merchants Section in the SL Forum. In general this is a very hard team to find. As to feedback, you’ll have to chase down one of the team and see if you can get their attention. Brooke has the feed on her profile turned off… it looks like the do-not-disturb sign is up.


I am one that sells products in the SL Market Place. I used to have in-world stores. I could never make a consistent profit with in-world stores. Most of the reason for that is me. I just did not make enough stuff. Plus I tend to experiment with different things. So, I have more types of things than I do things of a type.

My store is dependent on SL Search. Each time it changes my sales either go up or down. Recently they are down. So, what is Linden Lab going to do with virtual world sales? Will it help me?

At SLCC there was a meeting about The Future of Commerce in Second Life.  I’ve summarized the video of the meeting and included time mark references. Of course I paraphrase from my viewpoint. So, my take and your take could be different.


The first 12 minutes is introductions and information about the Second Life economy. I plan to look at Q2 numbers in my next look at SL Stats. Plus several people have already blogged on the Q2 numbers.

TM: 12:00 Brook Linden begins speaking about the new user experience of buying clothes and finding they are suddenly wearing a beautiful box. Plus the always handy failed deliveries. In spite of all this they see about a 7% growth in sales.

TM: 13:00 Direct Delivery is discussed as a means to improve sales. It also will change how the Market Place works and the information presented to buyers. Things we tend to understand are often an unpleasant surprise to new users. I think most experienced residents understand land is needed to put a purchased house on. That idea seems to escape some new users. So, that issue and similar ones will be explained in a delivery notice. This should be a big help to new users.

There is a 200 item limit for a single item delivery via Direct Delivery. Selling a dress made up of more than 200 items would require that it be boxed. There are some oddities in how folders and subfolders are handled. I’ll probably have to try it before I understand.

TM: 14:45 The new delivery notification popup is shown and discussed. A buyer will be getting information about the purchase and how to use it. Instructions for unpacking a box are provided, if necessary.

TM: 15:45 The Lab has made an API for the delivery notifications that is available to Third Party Viewer (TPV) Developers. They only mentioned it at this point. So, no information on how to use the API or where to find it. It will be possible for TPV Dev’s to create a custom delivery notification in their viewer. I think the API is a good move. The Linden’s notification appears to be huge.

TM: 16:00 Discussion switches to what the merchant side of Direct Delivery will be like. Items for sale will be in a folder that one can push to the Market Place by an inventory setting. The slides in the video are too blurry to really tell how that is done. The Market Place side will have more controls too. I am left wondering at this point if opening a merchant account or enabling your account for the Market Place is still part of the process. If so, it will likely trip new users. Whatever the case, at some point the Magic Boxes will go away and that is a good thing.

TM: 18:25 The roll out for Direct Delivery is 2 to 3 months. A FAQ page for Direct Delivery is up in the Wiki. See: Second Life Marketplace Direct Delivery FAQ.

The delivery is going to be server side based. So, one will NOT need to be online to accept delivery nor will the viewer you choose make any difference to delivery. The viewer used is likely to affect the delivery notice’s appearance.

TM: 21:15 Thor Linden takes over and discusses Search. Thor pushes the ideas that search has a better user interface. I’ll agree with that. The idea pushed that it is a better user experience is debatable.  I agree it takes less clicks and a new users reading the search page should be able to easily figure out how to use search. When it comes to the idea that search is more relevant I start to seriously disagree and feel this is where the debatable part of how improved or not search is comes up. In general I tend to agree with Darrius Gothly over at DGP4SL Blog in regard to relevance, not very.  This is one place where I think the Lab has goofed. At least search has gone from unusable to somewhat useable.

The process for getting ads into classified is supposed to be better and fair. Geez, that word fair creates so many problems. You may know that for a time the Lab allowed merchants to buy banner ads that appeared on all the SL web properties. That program in spite of being loved by those using it was dropped because it tended to be only the large merchants that were benefiting. Since not everyone benefited equally they discontinued it. It would have been smarter to leave it in place and find something to help the small merchants. Again this seems to be one of those efforts to assure everyone is equally miserable.

Thor explains the move away from Google Search Application (GSA) to Solar. GSA calculates search position based on incoming links and the frequency of updates. Obviously that logic doesn’t work well in a virtual world. I suppose landmarks kept in inventory could serve as incoming-link-criteria. Picks were sort of that type of thing. Frequency of Updates would be a problem and I can see where its usefulness is impractical. Internet information is time sensitive and updates are important criteria. SL products and objects in regions are generally not time sensitive.

Notice the page 2 link under the Plurk button.

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