SLBoutique Zeros Commissions

by Pixeleen Mistral on 30/10/06 at 9:46 am

Second Life content creators plan to break out party hats and hooters to celebrate

by Pixeleen Mistral, Virtual E-commerce desk

Saturday night, SLBoutique notified sellers that the web-based shopping mall is dropping its sales commission to zero – metaverse content creators who sell their virtual wares via the web site will net a few more Lindens as they troll the virtual e-commerce seas.

When asked how SLBoutique will cover its server expenses, Jade Lily told the Herald, that there would be for-fee services, “such as the ability to purchase advertisements in order to increase exposure of our sellers’ products.” . Ms. Lily continued, “If I sell clothing on SLB, in the future, I’ll have the ability to purchase a spot on the homepage that everyone will see when they visit SLB, thus increasing exposure to my products.”.

In other words, the new business model for SLBoutique seems to be a pay-for-product placement approach – perhaps modeled after Google’s ad words. This move seems to have been driven by a need to increase the number of sellers using SLBoutique. A competing web site for SL merchandice sales – SLExchange - has typically had a larger selection of products available.

SLBoutique’s no-commission move also could be seen as mirroring LL’s move to free accounts as a way to pump up the number of players sellers. Content creators will likely place products at both SLBoutique and SLExchange and watch relative sales closely.

8 Responses to “SLBoutique Zeros Commissions”

  1. Hiro Pendragon

    Oct 30th, 2006

    Wow, this is perhaps the first time I’ve heard of a website going *from* a real-money plan of income *to* an advertising plan. Isn’t it usually in reverse?

    A more likely reason, I’m guessing, is that eSheep’s looking to be uber-search-goodness.

  2. Prokofy Neva

    Oct 30th, 2006

    Oh, please, hardly. I think this is just a cheap PR gimmick — and a flat slap in the face of the indigenous micro-economy. It’s designed to make SLB look like the Friend of the People, flush more avatar key codes into their domain as people drop their other shopping sites, and simply harvest more data. Why else would the Sheep have bothered with this?

    Oh, and now FlipperPA Peregrine can end Prokofy’s chidings that he gains from because though he sold it to the Sheep yet remains on the ESC payroll and of course benefits from SLB’s commissions or income of any sort. (The arrangement always looks very muddy since he still remains heavily involved in SLB, even repairing it and making announcements about it).

    All the Sheep are saying is: “we don’t need micropayments; we have so many lucrative big business contracts that we don’t need to mess around expending staff time and technology on policing tiny commissions off tiny micropayments; we’ll gain more consolidating the vending and shopping public around our brand”.

    We have no idea what the income from SLB’s thousands of transactions of $100 or $1000 Lindens, but gosh, it might be a whole $4,827.94 per month! It’s a real cash cow lol!

    So *of course* they could drop their miniature commissions off the toy prices of the toy world — though I’ll bet there were some top dollars coming in, given that on sites like, I’ve found that I might drop as much as $100 US buying up some high-priced prefabs for example, and I’ll bet there are some people who routinely spend $5.00 US on their lunch hour on these sites.

    What’s much much MUCH MUCH more important to the Sheep is brand loyalty as well as fleecing us all for our data — purchasing patterns, demographics, location, tastes, movements around the world as we touch their ATMS, blah blah blah. This rich harvest is something they can both cull for their own benefit and also sell to their big business contacts for the real bonanza potential of Second Life.

    Hiro’s faux-syncophantic remarks about a rival being involved in “searching” is just a euphemism for them (and his company) being involved in “data scraping” lol. Sure, be useful to people who want to find stuff. AND scrape at them and grab all you can about their wants and needs and location — and grab their gender and annual income figures, too, if you can manage.

    I’ll bet paid advertising isn’t trivial either.

    Ultimately, like all things Second Life, this is about the age-old tradition of enhancing the avatar’s reputation as a do-gooder to position him for his next commercial or political move. SLB will be seen as helping the little guy, not gouging their commissions. It will slap at its competitor, which does take commissions (and who cares? let them, as they enable you to reach your market, duh). It will slap at the world’s little micro-economy. I personally admired the idea of some people serving as a more complex for of middlemen in making the inworld economy more dense by having commission sales and reachign broader markets, and the commissions were an incentive for some avatars to play that role. ESC is merely working with their big business partners ultimately to demolish our inworld economy and affix it to a broader Internet economy they control.

  3. Tom Bacon

    Oct 30th, 2006

    I don’t buy that “for-fee services” nonsense either. This is corporate America with their RL deep pockets who take over. They buy up one small guy and then move on to crush that other small guy. ESC is just a frontend for the big gun venture capital firms who fund them. They don’t care about server fees. The message is clear: the game is over – now the big guys are moving in. Who is next after GOM and SLExchange? Ginko? Anshe? The SL club and casino owners? Content brands? Anyone could be the next target. Get bought or get crushed is the song of the current times.

  4. Ordinal Malaprop

    Oct 30th, 2006

    Hold on. SLB is, I think, a better site than SLX, particularly after recent upgrades. It’s easier to sell from, easier to understand, has more sophisticated searches and so on. What it has always suffered from is the markedly higher commission, and I can see that it makes business sense to potentially take a loss to encourage more general usage to attack SLX’s position.

    As a seller I tend to list SLX before SLB because I know that I make (fractionally) more if people buy my stuff through SLX. This is no longer the case. I also tend to encourage people to buy from my own shop before either, because I lose no money at all if they do that and they can also see all my other goods and my freebies and enjoy my shop build. The monetary argument has now been taken out of that, and I am more motivated to list more of my products on SLB rather than just the ones that are priced high enough that the commission won’t hit their sales so hard. (The fact that my shop, I consider, is more entertaining than any page on any website, well, that’s not going to change – the shop will always come first.)

    Data mining potential remains exactly the same as before. Both sites are able to construct buying pattern models if they care to, and have always been.

    I will always prefer in-world shopping, and most customers do too in my experience – they don’t want to go to a website, they want to wander round a shop, buy things with their av, maybe chat to the shopkeeper and see a demonstration. Web sales are an extra, a different market altogether. I get very few of them, relatively speaking, myself. Given that I’m encouraged to see the free market actually benefitting me for once.

  5. Prokofy Neva

    Oct 30th, 2006

    Ordinal, your experience is merely your anecdotal experience. Other people swear by SLEX and do better there.

    And as for data mining, while the potential remains the same, the *capacity* obviously increases if they both keep existing customers and gain a slew of new ones who leave SLEX or begin trading off websites for the first time now that the commission barrier is gone. So they get more avatar keys and info at the end of the day as a direct result of this policy.

    We can never tell what really is the story about the web v. inworld. It would be so important to find out! And the Lindens who know, aren’t talking either, and can’t seem to come out with even the aggregate numbers.

    When the web shopping started more than a year ago, people predicted it would kill inworld sales. It didn’t. People like to walk around and shop and visualize things in the 3-d manner. They like to browse while at work on their lunch hour too, when they can’t log on to SL. I also use SLEX just to try to cope with the sheer number and variety of a product like prefabs, to be able to flip through them fast, then use that as my yellow pages to actually TP to the shop to see what it looks like. I might buy it off the website or might not then, but I’ll bet lots of people use these pages in just that fashion, in combination with inworld shopping expeditions.

    At the end of the day, I do not trust these companies using the web as much as I do those inworld who actually bother to man their store or immediately answer IMs. SLB has recently gone through some CS hassles and has been down, and I’ve talked to some very frustrated customers of theirs.

  6. Cocoanut Koala

    Oct 30th, 2006

    Well, Ordinal, I disagree. I enjoy participating in both sites, and have used both for about a year and a half now.

    But I have always thought SLExchange was much easier to list on, to sell from, and to find things in, and it also has nifty charts where you can see how many times a given product has been looked at, and see who has bought which products.

    SLBoutique, to me, is far less user-intuitive, has an incomplete FAQ explanation, which I’ve brought to their attention. SLExchange is also more visually pleasing and inviting to me than the current aesthetic incarnation of SLBoutique.

    Something about the search on SLBoutique, too, means that I will likely see twenty or more of the very same item repeated when looking for, say, an outfit.

    I list my products on both sites equally, and, though I don’t sell a huge amount, my sales have always been much better from SLExchange, so the advantage of not having to pay a commission on SLB – while nice – will probably continue to be offset by overall greater sales on SLExchange.

    Both sites are, as you say, different from shopping in world, but there are actually people who hate to shop inworld and do most of their shopping from these sites. (It is hard for some of us to move around and see well enough to do much efficient shopping in stores, plus some people shop from work!)

    I also had a problem with SLBoutique recently, when backend changes apparently resulted in some six of my items becoming deactivated without my knowing it. I discovered it when I tried to list a new item, and it wouldn’t let me list that item or activate any of the others. Finally I contacted SLB, and they quickly corrected the issue, but it did cost me a couple of hours and considerable frustration, in addition to the fact that some of my items had been offline for who knows how long.

    I didn’t even realize that SLB had a higher commission, because I paid no attention to it. I figured they are two different sites, and would, to some degree, have a different readership.

    In the past, when I have been asked, I refer others to both sites without adding commentary. When pressed to say which one I personally prefer, though, I have had to say SLExchange. I do appreciate having two different sites to list on, and understand that each site offers things that appeal to different people.


  7. Cocoanut Koala

    Oct 30th, 2006

    P.S. You can put more than three pictures on SLExchange, too.

  8. Ordinal Malaprop

    Oct 31st, 2006

    Oh, there’s certainly not any killer advantage that SLB has over SLX as a site, I just happen to prefer it for various reasons, other people don’t. In practice if you’re sensible you use both anyway, and that will continue to be the case for a long time.

    One other useful thing about SLX/B is that if one can directly link to the product page from a blog or forum post. If I make a post about some new gadget I’ve created, anyone reading can immediately purchase or receive it whether or not they have SL on that machine, which is slightly different behaviour from them coming across it whilst browsing the site. If you use the web quite a bit for advertising as I do, this is useful. In fact, if the sites didn’t exist, I might well have knocked up a quick web vendor system for my own use myself.

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