Xstreet tips/Products, pricing, and marketing
This article is a collection of helpful tips for Xstreet merchants by a single individual, and shouldn't be taken as official policy from Linden Lab or Xstreet.
Tricks of the Trade: A Merchant's Guide to Selling
by Tigress Stormwind
Becoming an Xstreet merchant is simple and easy! Make something, stick it in your Magic Box, and post it on Xstreet. And who knows, if you're really lucky you might come up with a smash hit. However, for the vast majority of us, becoming a successful Xstreet merchant is a different story.
Second Life shoppers have soooooooooooo many items and merchants to choose from that it can be very difficult to get yourself and your business to stand out on Xstreet and your products to sell. But rest assured, it's not impossible! The tips discussed below can go a long way in getting that cash register to start ringing.
So, let's get to it! We'll begin where it starts for most of us... the product.
What to sell?
- Sell things you've created out of your own wants and needs. We have heard countless merchants talk about how they wanted something that they couldn't find in Second Life or that they wanted it done "their" way, and went about creating it for their own purposes. For many, selling their goods became a byproduct of their creative efforts that fulfilled a need in their personal Second Life experience.
- Create things you would be proud to own. If you won't wear it or use it, odds are no one else will, either. Even if you have other things you've made that are high quality items, one bad apple can turn your customers off in a heartbeat. Trying to pull one over on your customers is never a good thing, and can only hurt your sales in the long run. And always remember that quality wins over quantity every time.
- Take a walk on the wild side. It's a fact of life -- controversial things sell. The "seedier" merchandise in Second Life seems to generate more sales than all the other items available, so if you're looking for a high volume item to sell, consider creating "Adult" paraphernalia, weapons, or counter-culture items. However, keep the following things in mind:
- You can be successful without venturing down this road -- you'll just have to work a little harder to get where you want.
- Although it's an easier sell, you'll still need to focus on quality, or you won't have many repeat customers.
- You're venturing into a highly established market, so you're going to have lots of competition, which means you'll have to have some very good marketing strategies in place to make your pink and blues stand out from all the rest.
How much do you ask?
Great! You now have a product. How much are you going to sell it for? Pricing can be an art form, and there are many different theories about the best way to price your merchandise. Here are a couple of pricing theories you might want to take under consideration:
- Using x99 in your pricing. It's crazy, we know, but it's been proven time and time again that an item selling for $199 will sell more than an identical item priced at $200. This seems to hold true in Second Life as well.
- Premium pricing. This means you promote your items at higher than average price, creating a sense of prestige around your product. Keep in mind, though, that in a small community like Second Life, that illusion of quality had best hold true in reality, or this strategy will backfire on you.
Now that you've got a product to sell, let's talk about how to list it on Xstreet.
- Post a picture! Very, very few shoppers are going to take your word on how good your product is, regardless of how much you chat it up in your description. Taking a snapshot in Second Life and saving it your local hard drive is free, so there is absolutely no excuse for not uploading a picture with your listing. The best photographs will follow these guidelines:
- Make it bright enough to display well in a browser. Dark images make the consumer think you have some flaw to hide. When in doubt, brighter is always better.
- Keep the size down within reasonable dimensions. Ideally, no image should be larger than 800 x 600. Remember, just because you have a 21" inch flat panel doesn't mean your shoppers do -- don't make them work to see your pics!
- Write a description. Get the consumer excited about purchasing your product! A well-done description takes you to a different level in the eyes of your shoppers, goes a long, long way in catching their interest, and more importantly, helps them remember you. Just remember to check your spelling and punctuation! Just like the product you're selling, quality is everything.
- Specify your permissions. Use the space provided in the Edit window, or type it in the Description area if you need to explain different permissions for different parts of the product (for instance, a scripted item that has one set of permissions on the prims, and another for the script). Shoppers don't like to guess what the permissions are, especially when they're shopping for gifts.
The last area we want to cover is marketing for you, the merchant.
- Let's talk about free stuff.
- Offering up some free or almost free items is a fantastic way to get your name out there. It not only makes you more visible, but it also makes you look better in the eyes of virtually everyone who sees you offering free stuff. Hint: On Xstreet, if you charge L$1 for an item, it becomes possible to buy that item as a gift for someone else, which isn't an option if you charge L$0.
- Taking other people's free merchandise and trying to sell it for a profit does just the opposite. Although not against the Terms of Service in Second Life nor Xstreet, you'll find yourself ranking right down there with baby snatchers in the eyes of public opinion.
- Advertising can work really well, if it's done right. The key is taking the time to research good advertising practices and then trying out different variations in your approach and technique. For example, a banner ad may be great for you, but you have to catch the websurfer's eye as well as their interest. And we've all seen banner ads that go overboard and actually turn eyes away because they're too flashy and annoying. And, just as with your merchandise, quality is important for any form of advertising.
Below are a few links for more in-depth discussions about many of the topics touched on here, as well as other information you might find helpful:
- http://www.determan.net/Michele/markethome.htm - Marketing 101
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marketing - Wikipedia's entry for Marketing
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pricing - Wikipedia's entry for Pricing
- http://www.knowthis.com/internet.htm - KnowThis.com's Internet Marketing Virtual Library
- http://www.marcommwise.com/glossaryindex.phtml - Marketing Glossary of Terms
- http://ollie.dcccd.edu/mrkt2370/book/mrktbook.htm - Marketing e-book by Gemmy Allen
And there you have it -- a few tricks of the trade to enhance your profits.