If 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 entrance to your business is one of the first things visitors will notice and can greatly effect whether you make a sale or not. The visual appearance needs to be inviting to portray your business in a positive light. It should be attractive both around the entrance itself, but also the path leading up to the door.
One of the most common attributes of an store front includes awnings, plants, statues, and signs. The awning canvas covering adds an aesthetic appear as well as some shelter from the elements. The plants surrounding the entrance are usually in a contained area such as potted structure or sticking up out of a segmented area of the building Sometimes multiple plants are used to create a garden. foundation. Statues can either be either side of the door or placed out in the grass lawn area leading up to the entrance. Signage is usually above the door or on one side recessed in the wall flush with the entryway.
it is very important that any decoration around the entrance does not impede navigation around or through it. While virtual worlds generally do not enforce accessibility laws such as ADA (American Disability Act) like real-world stores do, it is still a best practice to not affect avatar movement nor cause one’s camera controls to unnecessarily be impeded as a result of objects in the doorway. The final consideration is to welcome any and all visitors either with non-obstructive signage (such as a welcome mat) and make it clear to the avatar how they can contact someone for additional assistance.
Promotional free items such as demo versions, samples, or novelty items offered to visitors are utilized by many businesses to attract new customers. Another common reason for such freebies is to generate interest, and therefore demand, for an upcoming product release. Improving the relationship with faithful customers and establishing trust are critical both for repeat business business, but also to generate free exposure for the business via word-of-mouth advertising.
While some businesses are willing to give away their freebies for nothing in return, the smart ones will request prospects for contact information (such as name and email address if it is a web site), alternatively requesting permission to subscribe the avatar to an in-world mailing list or add them to a group for the purpose of receiving future promotional material. In some cases the so-called freebies are not available unless the avatar pays a nominal fee in exchange which entitles them to receiving items sent to the avatar on a regular basis. In these cases while the items received are not truly free the avatar ends up paying less overall in comparison to purchasing those items individually.
Avatars are encouraged to “shop around” when freebies are made available as some dishonest businesses will simply find a copyable and transferable free object in a hangout area then turn around and promote it to their own customers. Fortunately, with a quick search of the internet and reviews on forums these types of businesses are discovered very quickly and their customer base will quickly distrust them.
Some businesses will place restrictions on the freebies they distribute either through technical means (such as configuring the object to be no-modify or non-transferable) or by including a TOS (Terms of Service) notecard with the free item. However, this is a balancing act because if similar businesses are offering their freebies on more flexible terms those that are restrictive may loose market share. Another consideration is some avatars are simply out to collect every freebie they can find even if they never use it. They may never intend on reading the TOS nor visit the landmark included with the freebie, but for some businesses that is acceptable because if even a small portion of the freebie collectors later do decide to revisit the business to purchase something then it will have paid off in the long run.
The shopping experience can be dull, tedious, and time-consuming where sometimes only the most passionate consumer should endeavor. For some, market browsing is a nerve-racking experience enough even without having to cope with attitude issues. In recent years the purchasing experience has been even more stressful with the current economy.
When shopping for clothes many are in search of the most recent styles, however outfit searching can be strenuous for everybody. Some just don’t know how long it can take to try on an outfit and adjust the position especially when a pose-stand is not available. In the real world one will usually wear simple clothing and comfy footwear with a light-weight jacket. Within a virtual shop the same is true in that unnecessary HUD’s and attachments need not be worn while in the store which greatly benefits the shopping experience when trying on outfits as well as minimizing lag in the sim.
Holiday shopping is one of the more tense periods especially when the same or similar items are being offered by many different businesses, yet the customer is searching for alternatives in an effort to stand out from the rest. Offering the consumer unique gifts to give the special people in their life or an unusual costume for festivities can improve the appealing attractiveness of the store.
Family and group shopping can become tiresome for all members. Interest levels can vary especially among younger individuals although even adults can become stressed eventually. After a period of time many will simply give up and stop looking, fortunately many families and groups are open to participating in activities afterwards whether it be having a meal or enjoying entertainment together.
In an effort to attract visitors some venues and business areas, such as a mall, have a dance area with a live host and either a live DJ or a streaming radio station that hold “Best of… ” contests. These contests invite visitors to wear outfits that fit a specific theme similar to costume contests in the real world during the month of October. The contest has a specific starting and ending time and the rules tend to be fairly loose in that a themed outfit may either be created by wearer or obtained elsewhere. It is not uncommon for pictures to be taken during these events and posted onto a nearby wall as a memory of the event.
The incentive for visitors to attend such events typically includes a cash payout to the winner(s) of the contest. Some hosts will collect the votes manually via instant message or notecards while other hosts will utilize a scripted voting board where participants can both register to be voted on or they may vote for others. Throughout the event the host will encourage everyone to convince their friends to attend the event which increases traffic in the area and has the side effect of potentially higher sales for local businesses or additional tips received by the venue and host.
Voting criteria is generally a popularity contest with no specific guidelines on what should be considered when voting which means if sometimes the winner is the person that teleported the most loyal friends to the event. However, that is not to say those who are truly selecting the best outfit is not basing it on attributes such as visuals, authenticity, and how closely related it is to the contest theme. Many contests are for individuals, but some places also hold competitions for couples or will divide the contest prizes between the best male avatar and best female avatar.
The extra traffic to an area as a result of these competitions has the potential to benefit not only the host and value, but also businesses renting a shops and stalls near the dance area. However, with the concentration of avatars in a single location within a sim means an increased chance of lag due to the server having to process all those avatars and the client viewer software having to load lots of textures into cache. The risk is that visitors may teleport away from the area as a result. The primary method to address this is by reducing the number of scripts used by vendors and other objects as well as requesting that visitors remove unnecessary HUD’s and attachments in order to improve the experience for everyone.
Unwanted group notices, group chat, instant messages, and inventory offers (sometimes referred to as “spam”) that advertise products and services are usually sent by direct marketing firms or business owners. Stopping these from being received can be complicated depending on the method that was used to send the unsolicited material.
It has become an increasing problem for many avatars. Some are about identity theft (either about preventing it or an attempt to steal an identity) which has become an important concern for many. Unlike junk mail in real life, if the avatar makes a deliberate effort to stop it they are very likely to be successful thanks to the many technical features available to everyone.
In addition to deleting unwanted notecards or closing group notices and chat windows, the avatar also has the ability to uncheck “Receive group notices” on a group-by-group basis. In addition, such advertising received from an avatar can be “Blocked” and also the sending avatar may be “Muted”. When the preference option “Email me IM’s when I’m offline” is enabled then sometimes these notices or instant messages can appear in the user’s email inbox. In this case, utilizing the junk-mail filtering ability of one’s email service or email software may be required.
Fortunately, most legit businesses in virtual worlds will honor “Unsubscribe” requests which are usually sent to the business owner via instant message or by clicking a sign in the business owner’s store. This is different than the unsubscribe links sometimes found in real life email messages in which case if they are clicked an illegitimate business will interpret your email as being live and an actively used account therefore sending even more unsolicited marketing literature. The most important aspect to preventing this from happening is to stay pro-active.
Welcoming an avatar into your store is an important marketing tool as it projects recognition of the client so that they feel welcome and that their visit is appreciated. Many times, the first inquiry a prospective sale has how and where to find a particular item or types of items therefore it is important that a greeter provides such a mechanism. Product location methods can either be in-person from another avatar or via a scripted method such as a kiosk. If it is in-person then the greeter should ask how the visiting avatar can be helped as this can present genuine concern, however if the client does not want to bothered yet then the greeter should back off and check in later.
In the real world the distribution of flyers, handouts, and business cards by a greeter to promote products and upcoming events is not uncommon, however a quick inspection of nearby by trash bins and garbage cans will show that many of those handouts were immediately discarded likely before they were even looked at. Similarly in the virtual world the offered inventory items and group invitations as soon as an avatar teleports into a store have a high likelihood of being deleted and/or ignored until after they have had an opportunity to browse the store. With this being the case a nearby kiosk should be available so that if visitors do initially decide to ignore the influx of inventory offers they may still obtain them at a later time. Also, be sure to narrow the sensor range of such automatic distribution gadgets to remain inside the store and read the covenant for the sim to determine what, if any, restrictions are in place in regards to such communication methods.
Recognizing whether the visitor is a prospective customer or a repeat visitor may affect how you welcome the customer as they have two distinctly different needs. New customers will need to learn the layout of the store, the types of products being offered, and how to find products interesting to them. Repeat customers are likely to already know the layout of the store (unless it has been recently remodelled in which case they have similar needs as a new customer) and are more likely interested in knowing what is new such as where a recently released product can be found. Adapting to each and every customer’s needs and requirements will always have a positive impact.
If you should decide that offering an avatar a notecard upon arrival, it may as well be a relevant one based on where they came from. Tools such as Visitor Source Tracker has multiple landing pads each with it’s own landing area. A landmark or SLurl is created for each location and given out from different sources (i.e. perhaps one from a billboard, another from a website, etc) and then depending on which landing area the avatar arrives on they can receive a specific notecard relevant to that specific interest which increases the chances of them reading it.