Difference between revisions of "Marketplace/Sellers FAQ"

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== Why are titles and descriptions being capped? ==
 
== Why are titles and descriptions being capped? ==
To ensure a consistent and attractive shopping experience, we're capping these text areas to limits that are well within the average use of the features on XStreetSL.com. Descriptions tended to run long because they doubled as instruction manuals. Now, that instruction manuals can be delivered to shoppers separately as a PDF attached to the item in the listing.  
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To ensure a consistent and attractive shopping experience, we're capping these text areas to limits that are well within the average use of the features on XStreetSL.com. Descriptions tended to run long because they doubled as instruction manuals. Now, instruction manuals can be delivered to shoppers separately as a PDF attached to the item in the listing.
  
 
== Do I have to make any changes to my Magic Boxes or items with this move? ==
 
== Do I have to make any changes to my Magic Boxes or items with this move? ==

Revision as of 09:06, 24 May 2010

SL Marketplace logo 180 pixels wide.jpg

Hello Second Life merchants! This wiki is created with your needs and questions in mind as we move closer to transitioning from XstreetSL to SL Marketplace Beta. This will be the page of record for announcements and information, so please bookmark and check back frequently to see what's new! If you follow us on Twitter or you're a member of the Second Life Commerce Merchants inworld group, then we'll let you know when major updates are made to this wiki page.

Date of update: May 3 2010

Contents

What's New?

  • Current target release of SL Marketplace Beta: Summer 2010
  • This Wiki updated Monday May 17, 2010 with updates on automatic listing migration
  • Blog post announcement is live. Check it out here!
  • Pictures of SL Marketplace Beta are in this Flickr set.
  • Office Hours May 4th at 10am, 4pm, 8pm PT. SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Xstreet/34/95/22

What is the timeline for the launch of SL Marketplace Beta?

We're currently on track for a summer 2010 launch. Once SL Marketplace goes live, we will run XStreet SL in parallel for a period of time while we finish transitioning items. When the migration of data is complete, we'll close the purchasing and listing sections of XStreetSL permanently and redirect to SL Marketplace. Forum archives will remain available.

Update: We will automatically migrate all active items over to the new Marketplace for testing on June 10, 2010. See next section for more information

What is required for merchants to migrate to the SL Marketplace Beta?

In short, nothing. Your magic box items will be available in both platforms. Listings will be automatically ported over to SL Marketplace Beta. The content in your titles and descriptions could be truncated and you may want to take this opportunity to do a little housecleaning on your listings. UPDATE (May 17, 2010): We will automatically migrate all active items over to the new Marketplace for testing on June 10, 2010. To keep costs manageable and reduce risks in the transition, we will not be able to migrate over any items marked as inactive at 11:59:59 Pacific time on June 9, 2010.To ensure your items are migrated to the Marketplace, please make sure the items you wish to have automatically moved are marked as active by 11:59:59 Pacific time on June 9, 2010. Before we close XStreetSL, we will do one more migration of active items. So between June 9 and that day you are free to list items on XStreetSL, and after the release of the Marketplace, of course you may list there as well.

What could Merchants do to best prepare for the Marketplace?

  • These are OPTIONAL suggestions for best results.
  • Look at your listings and remove those that aren't performing well, temporarily or permanently. This will reduce the amount of work needed to move over.
  • For listings that you're keeping:
    • See Pink's merchandising presentation from SL Pro for tips and ideas.
    • You might choose to use this time to improve your product photos. In the new Marketplace, you'll decide which photo appears in search listing pages and which photo is your main item photo on the item details page. You might wish to remove copy or text on photos for those two positions. Images will be limited to 8 images at 700 x 525 maximum, and we will auto size those images to fit in various spots in SL Marketplace. An aspect ratio of 4:3 (max size 700 x 525) is the new default size, but items that are already live in 1:1 and 5:4 should not be much altered when they ported over. For pictures of what this will look like, this please see Pink Linden's Flickr Feed.
    • Edit descriptions to no more than 2000 characters. Take this time to review your copy and make changes to make it work harder for you. XstreetSL descriptions will be moved to SL Marketplace automatically, but long descriptions will be truncated. Descriptions will not be indexed.
    • You can also provide item instructions for shoppers in an uploaded PDF, as needed.
    • Edit titles to no more than 80 characters. XStreetSL titles will also be moved to SL Marketplace, but long titles will be truncated. Titles will be searched, so use the characters carefully!
    • Remove BB Code from descriptions. (BB Code will not be allowed in listing descriptions)
    • A new feature for merchants is features lists, a feature is a line of text no more than 80 characters long that will be displayed on the item detail page when shoppers first see it. Feature lists are limited to 5 features, and will be indexed for search. If you wish, you can work on this in advance so you're ready to cut and paste in once the SL Marketplace is live. We do have a .csv uploader in the works, but it may not be available at beta release.
    • Begin to create search terms for each listing. This is a group of words, not longer than 200 characters, that the search engine will use to determine your position in the listing. Please note that keyword spam rules from XStreetSL will apply and listings found to be inaccurately representing themselves in search will be de-listed with no refunds to listing enhancements.
    • If you want to use a video to demonstrate your product, then you will be glad to learn we've created a special place for that link in the item listing. If you don't currently use videos, now's the time to prepare any new machinimas that you need early to take advantage of that feature on day one.

And remember...

  • Your magic box items will be available in both platforms. No need to duplicate!
  • The Freebie Mitigation Roadmap will *not* be implemented in this release.
  • You will see PJiras start to close as we mark items as "done" or "not needed" as we work towards the SL Marketplace launch. Feel free to put your feature requests in the PJira, and we will let you know if we will work on it immediately, defer the request, or decide not to include it.

Merchant Specific FAQ:

Please read the blog post here first. If you don't see your question listed here, then visit this conversation thread in the Commerce Forum and we'll do our best to get your questions answered in a timely fashion.

How was feedback taken from Residents in this project?

  • Quantitative: Two extensive surveys were conducted last year, as well as extensive Web analytics and sales data about usage of the site.
  • Qualitative: We pored over many PJIRA issues, comments in office hours, forum posts, blog comments, inworld meetings and interviews, and notecards. We have also been working closely with merchants, of various sizes and Second Life experience levels, during the development of SL Marketplace, to help guide and prioritize our decision-making process.
  • To those we added the expertise of Lindens in real world ecommerce experience design, both for merchants and shoppers, using well established sites as guidelines for shopper expectation.

Are there any features available in XstreetSL that are not available in SL Marketplace?

In general, we wanted SL Marketplace to remain in feature parity--and beyond--with XstreetSL. There are a few features that we cut, either because we discovered very few people were using them, or because we decided that re-doing them from scratch would not be possible in the upcoming release. You can generally assume that what you have now you will continue to have in the future. The most visible cuts are the elimination of bold, border, and highlighted listing enhancements, where we'll retain only homepage featured and featured enhancements. We will review feature requests in PJira and if we know they're shipping, we'll respond accordingly.

How will my item appear in search in SL Marketplace?

Improving the quality of search results was the number one request of merchants and shoppers alike and SL Marketplace has new search engine to power better and more effective search results. First, only the title, feature list, and search terms box will be searched, dramatically reducing the number of inaccurate results. (Previously, the long description was searched which yielded inappropriate and long results lists.) Second, the algorithm itself is a well-regarded open source engine called Lucene/SOLR that has a great relevancy track record.

Why are titles and descriptions being capped?

To ensure a consistent and attractive shopping experience, we're capping these text areas to limits that are well within the average use of the features on XStreetSL.com. Descriptions tended to run long because they doubled as instruction manuals. Now, instruction manuals can be delivered to shoppers separately as a PDF attached to the item in the listing.

Do I have to make any changes to my Magic Boxes or items with this move?

No.

Will there be any new fees or pricing changes associated with the SL Marketplace launch?

We are removing bold, border and highlight from listing options. Homepage featured and featured listings will still be available, and their prices will not change, though they will look different and will now be purchased separately. See the screen shots of the item page and search listing pages on Flickr here. In both cases the featured listings will be assigned in a random order. In the long run we will be replacing this with a more robust advertising platform.

Will I still be able to buy banner ads on the Marketplace?

At first release, we will not have banner ads available. But we are in the process of replacing our banner ad system for later this year.

What is the roadmap for future releases?

After SL Marketplace Beta releases, we will go into regular release cycles roughly every 2 weeks. To request a feature, please use PJira.

What is the status of the Freebie Mitigation Roadmap?

We currently have no ship date for these items. However, two critical asks that you made will be immediately available in SL Marketplace Beta. First, demo items will now be linked to the item for sale. Second, we are working on the ability for you to create item variants for different colors, scheduled for after the Marketplace Beta. Over time we'll expand that capability to other variants, such as size or permissions. In the meantime, you'll be able to use a new feature called "related items" to link up to 8 items that are related by color, style etc.

Why is BB Code being removed?

To ensure the greatest conversion rate for the highest number of merchants, we are striving for a more consistent user experience. BB code allows for a level of customization that does not enhance the SL Marketplace shopping experience.

Will SL Marketplace and inworld transaction information continue to be separate?

Yes, for now. We have it on our roadmap to eventually merge these two sets of data.

I see a lot of emphasis on shopper features. What is the plan to get merchants more tools to run their businesses?

The goal for this release was first to first improve the shopping experience while retaining feature parity for merchants (and internally for customer support). By focusing on shoppers first, we hope to improve sales for a majority of merchants. In addition, we also created a development platform that will allow us to develop with greater velocity and predictability. We believe that we can now ship merchant features at a much faster pace. That said, merchants are getting a number of new features in SL Marketplace such as:

  • Search Engine: Your #1 most requested feature. An entirely new search engine will index the product title and feature list, leading to more relevant search results for shoppers with the goal of increasing more traffic to your items.
  • Better tools for merchants: Free storefronts with easy access to all of merchant items as well as profile and policy information, ability to offer coupons for their store, and the ability to list and link demo items at no charge.

What is your development platform and language? How did you make the decision to use it?

We are moving from PHP to Ruby on Rails. We used a number of out of the box features of Spree Commerce such as the shopping cart; but of course we heavily customized them for the unique nature of SL Marketplace. The entire commerce team was trained in SCRUM/Agile methodology and now works in that manner, which is driving the two week sprints that we'll start delivering post release. We chose these platform and development methods for their speed to market, flexibility, scalability, modularity, and extensibility. We did an extensive review of our options and in the end these met our needs most effectively.



NEW Q&A ADDED MAY 7, 2010

Will cashing out on XStreetSL continue as usual?

Yes.

There's a 2000 character limit on long descriptions. Where should EULA (end user licensing agreements) and product instructions go?

We recommend that product instructions go into the .pdf file. Product specific EULAs should also go there, but if you only have one EULA for all items, we suggest you put this in your store policies area, linked from your merchant profile, and also duplicate in the .pdf.

What the limit to the file size of the PDF merchants can attach to the listing for instructions and further information?

There is no limit to the size of the PDF file, but we do encourage merchants to use their buyers' time and bandwidth wisely — few Second Life Residents are on ultra fast computers. If you don't own Adobe software on Windows, you can use Microsoft Word or Open Office to create PDF files. On a Mac, almost every application can "print" to a PDF file.

How will the related items feature work?

At Beta, each merchant will be able to link up to 8 other listings to the main listing. These recommendations will be seen in a tab in the listing page called "related items" This is a great way to show off the fatpack that includes multiple colors, the chairs that go with a table, jackets that match pants, and in the short term, items of another color and texture. Later, we will add the ability to show multiple colors of an item; as well as recommendations from other merchants based on the item purchased, which will show up at the bottom of the page.

Will merchants be able to preview a listing before posting it live?

Yes.

Will there be a link to the store policies on the item page?

No, store policies are set by Merchant and are linked from the merchant's page

Will merchants be able to create extra versions of listings in several languages?

Yes. Each language is a separate listing, though they can be created simultaneously in the listing process.

Are there any changes to the feedback system?

Not at this time. We know this needs work but have decided to wait to work on this until we come over to the new platform.

Are links allowed in the long descriptions or featured lists?

no. While you may hard code the text of a URL into these areas, the text will not be linked to the page. There is room on the merchant page for links to the merchant's web page or blog.

What happens to bb Code in current listings when they are ported over?

BB Code will be stripped from listings where possible, but there will be instances of the code appearing in text.

Can each item have a SLURL or is there just one Merchant SLURL?

Each item may have its own SLURL. Merchants may also have one slurl in their merchant page.

How many assistants can a merchant have?

An unlimited number.

How many levels of permissions are there to assign to assistants?

Only one at this time.

I'm a services merchant. Will the new Marketplace accommodate me?

At Beta, we're focused on goods delivery via magic boxes. We will add features to support services at a later date.

Are animated .gif files allowed on the Marketplace?

No. Animated .gifs will be static when ported over. However, we do provide for a link to a video in the listing, so we encourage you to do videos/machinimas of items that are best sold with it, and link them from there.

Will logins be retained across sessions?

Linden Lab is working hard on the single sign-on project and the situation should improve soon, but the teams that are working on this project are not the same ones working on the Marketplace. Once the single sign-on work has been completed, the marketplace will adopt it immediately.

Can listings be saved mid stream to work on later?

Yes.

Is the ANS (automated notification system) changing at launch?

No.

Will the Marketplace eventually be integrated with Avatars United?

Yes, but there is no current timeline for it.

I work with other merchants under a shared brand. Will there be branded storefronts, not just ones for a single merchant?

At Beta we will not have this feature, but we have captured the request for the roadmap.

When the new marketplace is running in parallel with XStreetSL, which one should Merchants use to Add/Edit listings?

Merchants should use XStreet SL as the source of record for listings that live on both platforms. If new listings are created on the Marketplace, they will not be brought back to XStreet SL due to the increase in features on the Marketplace that are not backwards-compatible.