Business Advantages to Holiday Planning

holidaydecorIntegration of the various holidays that occur throughout the year can benefit a business in many ways. Recognizing that many customers are looking for specific holiday themed merchandise can draw prospects toward your products and once they are in the door or visiting your web site additional interactions either directly or indirectly (such as through social media) will commence. Bundling related products together and offering seasonally-colored merchandise makes it easy to target holiday shoppers who are ready to purchase such items at an impulse.

Planning for an upcoming holiday should start a few months in advance so that appropriate merchandise can be created, decorations can chosen, and prospective customers know that you are recognizing their interests. The specific holidays that you participate in will depend on the demographics that you are trying to appease. Some holidays are specific to religion (i.e. Christmas) while others are regional specific (i.e. Fourth of July in the United States). There are even specific shopping events surrounding some holidays (i.e. “Black Friday” for in-person store visits and “Cyber Monday” for online purchases). However, be aware that advertising too far in advance of a holiday can be a turn-off for some customers.

Finally, when it comes to decorations for a holiday one will want to keep it new and fresh rather than rezzing out the same old decorations year after year (some of which might be utilizing inefficient scripts that does not take advantage of the new mono LSL scripting).  Also be sure to establish a budget and stick to it when shopping for new festive decorations to ensure the business maintains a profit that still covers tier and marketing otherwise any additional sales as a result of the holiday will become a burden rather than a benefit.

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KI Ferris Wheel *0.070-0.700ms* – Static and swinging gondolas with adjustable lag

z1225_KIFerrisWheel_512This classic amusement park attraction features eight static gondolas around the outside of the wheel while four inner gondolas swing back and forth during operation. The maximum speed of the ride, the length of the ride, and the movement delay between vehicle updates are all adjustable resulting in an attraction suitable for all environments with minimum impact on sim resources. All prims are YesMod, YesCopy, NoTransfer while all scripts are NoMod, YesCopy, NoTransfer. The ferris wheel can be resized to accommodate both very large as well as very small avatars while the vehicles themselves may be re-themed to accommodate local surroundings.

SL Marketplace

Here is why you must Rez Objects at Eye Level

eyelevelIf the goal is to get the attention of avatars whether it be signs, products, or some other attraction then such items should be rezzed at eye level. In the real world many retail stores will place merchandise at just before or at eye level, however in virtual worlds the most common eye levels are actually the avatar’s should up about two meters above the avatar’s head (sometimes referred to as camera angle and position). This is why, unlike in real life stores, many in-world stores stack items from the floor all the way to the ceiling.

However, as with any marketing methods there are always exceptions to the rule. When an avatar is in a seated position their camera position will be closer to the floor. This is also true for some of the smaller avatars in virtual worlds which is similar to real life stores who will place items such as toys and cartoon cereal boxes closer to the ground so that those products are at eye level with kids. Depending on the circumstances, an avatar in a seated position might also be in mouse-look view in which case the camera position and angle is from the front of the avatars eyes just like in real life. Shoppers tend to scan merchandise in the same method as they read a book (i.e. left-to-right such as in the western hemisphere) and will usually find the most expensive items at eye level which the lesser expensive or generic brands are located on the very top shelf or close to the floor.

The visual impact of wall decorations such as art, paintings, and photographs should also be located at eye level even if the room has a high ceiling. When rezzing such items keep in mind that the size of the artwork should be proportional to the space. Small pictures should not be placed on large empty walls and huge paintings should not be located on small walls. When there are several small decorations to be rezzed in an area they need to be clustered together with a common theme in order to fill up the space.

The Hidden Value of Furniture

furnishingsThe furnishings used within a store is important because from a buyer’s point of view it will greatly affect their firm impressions of the goods or services available. Furniture should be high quality and appeasing to look at while also functional at the same time. It should blend in with the theme of the rest of the store (i.e. wall and floor colors) without impeding the flow of traffic.

While in a virtual world one does need to be concerned about whether furniture is well painted, the textures used on the furniture should be detailed enough to have a sense of quality but not necessarily at a high resolution as the texture needs to rez in a reasonable amount of time. Stores that mostly consist of plain grey surfaces for an extended period of time can be a turn-off to any potential buyers. Once the textures on furniture does become visible textures should be properly aligned along surface edges and have a smooth or polished look to convey quality.

Common furnishings in a typical retail shop might include lamps (local lighting), displays (demo objects), a cash register (scripted vendors), card machines (kiosks to purchase in-world currency), and shopping carts (dedicated rez areas for unboxing new purchases into inventory). The placement of these functional furnishings should express professionalism by being located away from walls while at the same time not affect avatar traffic nor camera angles as prospects navigate throughout the store.

There’s more to customer loyalty than just repeat sales

teleportOne of the best ways to increase sales is to sell to your existing customer base and in order to accomplish that customer loyalty needs to be established. It is especially difficult in the virtual world to retain customer loyalty due to the fact that all transactions occur via the internet, therefore unlike in the physical world businesses no longer have a local economy advantage of being close to where the customers live. Prospects can simply teleport away to another location without giving it a second thought, therefore first impressions and post-sale follow up service is a must.

The same ease that allows potential customers to consider the competition can also be used to your advantage to check out the competition yourself. One must know as much as possible about their own customers as they do about the offerings of competitors to determine whether the products offered aligns with customer needs. This may require surveying visitors and/or asking follow-up questions after the sale to determine why the customer purchased your product over someone else’s. Once this information is obtained targeted marketing (in contrast to mass marketing) is used to both attract the right type of new customer and to encourage the existing customer base to come back and purchase more.

While direct one-to-one instant messaging with customers is effective, a strong social media presence is also a must. Face-to-face interactions are less likely in a virtual world, however when a purchased product is meant for public view then teleporting to the customer’s location can be beneficial. Not only does this show the customer that one cares about follow-up service it also allows the creator to see how their item fits into different environments which can lead to specialized features in future versions. Other forms of effective social media includes maintaining a blog demonstrating your expertise in an industry as well as replying to comments posted by others in forums.

Finally, the sales process itself needs to occur smoothly in order for that customer to return and purchase more. The store environment should be lag free utilizing low-impact scripts and a minimum amount of high resolution textures. In-world vendors should be online 24/7 and alternate methods of purchase available such as via web-based stores hosted by the virtual world provider. Product delivery should be timely once the in-world currency is transferred from the customer to the creator and all store policies needs to be made available both before and after the sale. In summary, if the sales process itself is not a positive experience for the customer then regardless of how high quality and useful their new purchase is they likely will not return to make additional purchases.