We're gonna sit on top of the watertower and pretend we're Batman.

Oh Marketplace, why you gotta be like that.

It’s been weeks since Ive been able to release anything new at Damned Good Design(SL). The reason can be encapsulated in one word:

Marketplace.

Over 80% of all DGD sales come from Xstreet. Consistently- and it’s been this way since I opened the store. Though I keep hearing a whole lot of complaining about the “loss of the inworld shopping experience” the truth is that for a whole lot of people, they’d rather shop Xstreet and then spend their time inworld doing something other than waiting on stuff to rez and fight through lag and teleport issues just to buy something.

LL decided to rip apart and reinvent the code base (AGAIN- remember they DID this less than two years ago). Whatever- fine. But they’ve rushed it so hard and so fast that instead of being ready to go live, it’s buggy as hell and should barely be in beta. I suppose if you only have a few listings, it’s not that horrible. You take an hour or two, check your stuff, and there you go. However I have 568 listings (I know Dare has more than that.), and so help me.. *every last one of them* seems to have migrated with some kind of error. The problem was that until October 6, I didn’t dare attempt to really fix them, for fear of breaking the Xstreet listings (which worked perfectly.) So I sent out a notice to my group/subscribo that I was putting new releases on hold until post October 6, at which time I could finally take a little time to go through all the new Marketplace listings and fix all the problems. I figured it would take me about a week. A week longer than it should, but ok fine, I accept the situation.  So here it is, early Sunday morning (4am, by my RL clock) and Im up.  I figure great, I’ll go try and start fixing this mess.

I got not *five minutes* into this process before I hit a wall.

See, one of the main features of the new Marketplace is that vendors have a “store” on the site. You get to put your logo in, and information about your store, and all that other chewy stuff you expect to find.  For those unfamiliar with what this looks like, here it is:

 

The Marketplace Store Setup Page.

Houston? We have a problem.

 

But so help me, I swear that LL truly does not understand at ALL the very people they claim to actually be trying to support.  When they decided to switch to this new codebase, it was in association with the announcement of new listing fees, and something they called “a roadmap for freebies.”  The bottom line of all of this was an attempt to “clean up” marketplace listings by making it significantly less worth it (or in fact, not worth it at all) to put freebies and cheapies up on the marketplace.  Cries went up about this, and about how it was favoring big merchants over small, etc. etc.

Dear Small Merchants: I promise, LL doesn’t give a fuck about larger ones either.

See, the problem up there?  Is that there is *no way* that I can find on marketplace to have *more than one store*.   If someone can show it to me? I’d be forever grateful.   I’ve asked about this and the only answer I’ve gotten back is “use an alt account for each one.”  Not only no, but HELL no.  First of all, between myself and Dare (and once again folks I feel the need to reiterate the fact that we are in fact two *very* distinct and different human beings both IRL/SL and are damned well not alts of each other) we currently have six different stores all selling different things, in  six different marketplace categories, and we have plans for a seventh by the beginning of 2011.  Managing marketplace listings using seven different alt accounts means we need seven separate sets of magic boxes, each set owned by a different alt.  Even if/when SLM goes boxless it means I need separate inventories. with an endless parade of alts logging in and out to take care of things.  It’s a nightmare.  Even right *now* it’s a nightmare and all I want to do it set stuff up for Damned Good Design and Virtual Alchemy (Dare actually does the listings from his end for UF, GNI, TF and DD)

Not only is it a nightmare on the administrative end, it’s simply *dishonest* as a merchant. You should know who you’re buying things from. Straight out.  You should not have to hunt to find out (or better yet never know) that Jane Fizzywig is really Janet Farmer, who is also really Jeanette Fallowfield. What if you don’t LIKE Jane Fizzywig?  Why would you want to buy things from Janet or Jeanette?  It sure would be easy to be fooled into doing it, since basically the way the Marketplace is set up now, you have little choice but to create a situation that would cause *exactly* that.

I haven’t even gotten to fixing the LISTINGS yet, because I’m still stuck on trying to figure out what to do about the damned store.  And people wonder why I keep screaming that this mess should never have been left out of ALPHA, never mind Beta.

-AK

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4 responses

  1. Jim

    I’ve been a professional server developer for 27 years. I will tell you this is what happens when developers “just code it up the right way”, third generation in this case, without doing user studies, usability testing, etc.

    Sometimes that is caused by lack of funding, often it is lack schedule time to do it right, and often it is just plain arrogance of thinking they know what the user needs. In this case, I suspect a bit of all three.

    Sometimes, perhaps here it is also confusion over who the user is. In this case there are two major categories of user, the buyer and the seller. Both have *very* different needs. I suspect they’ve been looking at it mostly from the buyer’s point of view.

    Also, often there is little attention given to the “one-time” administrative back-end. Again, the majority of users (buyers) are not going to see it. And it’s true that setting up a store need not have a pretty U/I, but the fundamentals of data collection and organization must still be thought through and done properly.

    What we have here is an (official?) Linden policy telling you to create alts? LL doesn’t actually support alts. There’s no way for you to indicate a list of “equivalent” alts in your account configuration. I’d love to see direct support for alts. For example, sharing inventories. Are they going to allow exports from one store by the other user account? No. See my blog for my rant on export and the trouble alts cause.

    October 10, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    • I agree that they pushed the code too fast. I’ve been saying that for months. It’s not ready.

      I ALSO agree (oh boy do I ever) that they have a whole lot of confusion as to who the user is. They’ve admitted on the website that they are focusing on the shopper first, which would be fine I suppose had the migration not gone so badly. I started today working on one (ONE) furniture collection. 53 items. 50% of them did not migrate properly at all. The others need listings fixed *anyway* to add the appropriate SKUs, etc. etc.) But 50% of this collection never listed itself post-migration.

      The Lab has no official policy on how to get around this. It’s either silence or “Well we’ll look at that. Eventually. Maybe. If we get around to it.” The alt thing came from other people who have run into the same trouble- to create a management alt for each shop and do it that way. I suppose that’s the only workaround people have found. I did it differently (and incredibly inelegantly) but I did it without pulling my alt in or creating new ones.

      October 10, 2010 at 11:45 pm

  2. 1. They’re planning on going boxless? How does that even work?

    2. Damn, you weren’t wrong, there’s NO way to set up multiple stores. And with that, they’ve managed to kill off entirely something that was iffy on XStreet in the first place: namely, generating separate pages that all link to one account (something that became unworkable shortly after they bought–and killed–SL Boutique.)

    (Gods, I miss SLB at times.)

    Weirdly, I’m almost tempted to go “back” to the Marketplace. Considering I killed my site when they essentially demanded high fees for every one of my listings, I’d have to redo everything anyway. But there’s still the issue of the fees, and when they WILL be implemented. Or if.

    October 12, 2010 at 12:37 am

    • They are indeed planning on going boxless. In the future, items will be pulled directly from your inventory instead of a MB.- at least this is what they’re saying.

      There’s other issues as well. For example, I tried to fix the listings of one single furniture line. In that line there’s 53 items. Of those 53, 50% of them delisted themselves during the migration.

      But it doesn’t matter- even if I turn all of those on at once- all of the listings have to be gone over one at a time by hand to add SKU numbers(for tracking), features (for marketplace content), tags, for search.

      So that’s 53 pages that need to be updated by hand.

      But wait! There’s more! Once you do that, you have to go *back* and add all the “associated items” listings. You cant do that the first time because you can only search for what Marketplace will find, and it won’t find the entire line until AFTER you fix all 53 pages.

      So to fix 53 items, I need to fix 106 pages.

      I have over 550 listings. Dare has over 1000.

      Now you start to see how enormous the issue is.

      October 12, 2010 at 2:59 am

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