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.

Reducing Buyer Remorse both Before and After the Sale

Buyer’s remorse is something businesses would rather not occur, yet happens more frequently than desired. It is usually an emotionally reaction by a customer after the sale which may include thoughts of regret, anxiety, or stress. This is one area a business should definitely address during the sales process to minimize the impact and improve the customer’s self-confidence that the decision they made was correct. It can happen after the purchase anything whether it be a vehicle, home, or even outfits though is more common to occur after the purchase of a relatively expensive item. The customer may feel their money was not well spent and the item should not have been purchased, however in many instances it is just an uncomfortable response to change.

However, buyer’s remorse is a healthy feeling as it keeps one’s investments under control. The important thing to preventing it is allowing the product to be sampled (i.e. demonstration version) before the purchase and provide access to both testimonials as well as reviews, both good and bad, from past purchases of the product or service. Providing the customer with alternatives and allowing them to take the time to consider all options and how the product or service applies to them reduces the chance of the client becoming excited over a purchase only to never use it afterwards.

Actions performed post-sale is another opportunity to address buyer’s remorse. Offering the customer a complimentary visit or at minimum making contact to thank them for purchase and providing immediately follow-up support is beneficial to everyone involved. If the item purchased is likely to be used in a public location even a surprise visit to their establishment soon afterwards to interact with the purchased item provides not only confidence for the customer, but also provides the seller a chance to obtain product improvement ideas that may not have been originally considered during creation. The good news about buyer’s remorse is it is typically short-term.