Nov 272011

Today I thought I would put together a post containing some useful tips and tricks for SL Marketplace, the official out-world shopping site for Second Life. This will by no means be an exhaustive list, but it will contain a few handy things I’ve found out and will hopefully help you to get the most out of your Marketplace shopping experience.

Hop behind the cut!

When you open up Marketplace you see the big splash page, and the quickest way to access the main items page is to simply click the Search button without typing anything into the search textbox. You’ll end up here:

It’s the same old stuff every single time, isn’t it? You can go back for page after page and it’s not until you’re tens of pages in (when most people will have given up) that you start to find the new-and-different stuff: the stuff that you didn’t know was there. Surely there must be an easier way of finding it than this?

Well, there are a few tips and tricks that you can use, and I’m going to share my biggest one with you here. This applies mainly to avatar-related things (hair/skin/clothing/etc) but it will also bring up some stuff you didn’t expect, and those are the surprise bargains you never realised existed!

We’ll start by setting a few parameters. While you can choose a specific category if you’re in a hurry to find clothing or somesuch, it’s much more fun to leave the search results at All Categories and just see what crops up!

Don’t forget to set your maturity preferences. You’ll need to be age verified in order to access adult items, both in-world and on Marketplace. Find out how to do that here. You may need to log out of Marketplace and back in again before you can set your preferences to include adult items.

Next, choose your price range in the left sidebar. You can either use the one-click price settings –

– or you can type in the amount you want to spend, including nothing at all! –

Don’t forget to hit that Refine Search button after you’ve set your price preferences.

Setting ‘Price: Low to High’ in the Sort By dropdown can be a bit of a crapshoot. Obviously, if your price range is L$0 you don’t need to do this, but for anything else you’re going to end up with a lot of demos entering the early L$0 pages of your search results. And, unfortunately, Boolean search operators don’t work on Marketplace, so adding -demo or NOT demo as part of your search string won’t get rid of demos.

The next setting is mainly of use for builders searching for full-permission items, such as textures and sculpts, but if you’re looking for gifts that you want to give in person (such as boxing them up and giving to a loved one at Christmas or on their Rezday) as opposed to sending from Marketplace as a gift, then making sure that Transfer is checked is useful!

Set ‘Items per page’ to 96 (saves a lot of clicking) and then – trust me on this one – search for a colour.

Yup, you heard me right: a colour. Just try looking at random first of all, and you’ll be surprised what pops up. Here’s the result of a search in All Categories for ‘brown’:

None of that stuff is anywhere near the front pages, so would you ever have found those creepy eyes, that cheapie kitchen pack or the awesomely-cheap footwear?

Brown is not such a common colour, so if you search for something like red or blue you’ll get more results. When Mar searched for red she found a gorgeous, low-prim winter skybox for just L$10 that she might never have found otherwise.

Other Tips

Sending gifts to other avatars from Marketplace

You can send a gift with a personal message to another avatar from Marketplace, which is great for various holidays and other celebrations such as rezdays. To save me from screencapping it all here, check out the official Second Life Knowledgebase article on Giving gifts from the Marketplace.

One thing that’s only mentioned very briefly in that article, and that’s the fact that you can’t send a freebie as a gift. The ‘add to cart as gift’ option is only available on items of L$1 and over. Here’s a freebie item’s cart options:

And here’s a paid item’s cart options:

Writing reviews

If you buy something – paid for or free – that you love, write a review so that other people can see what you liked about it! Leaving a review is very easy. This Knowledgbase article tells you exactly how to do it: Writing item reviews on the Marketplace.

Failed deliveries

One thing of note, and that’s the red box at the bottom of that article. This is very important because it’s about failed deliveries. So many times I see one-star reviews saying, “I didn’t get this item, what a rip-off” etc. Well, that’s down to a failure of the Marketplace delivery system, and the item’s creator has absolutely no control over that! Leaving a one-star review when there’s nothing wrong with the item is a bad breach of SL etiquette.

At present a delivery from Marketplace can take up to 8 hours to come through, and the seller is not paid until the item is actually delivered. The money will initially leave your L$ balance (again, it’s not the seller that does this; it’s the Marketplace delivery system) but it’s held in a kind of limbo until your item is sent. If the delivery box fails (which can happen if the region it’s rezzed out in is offline for, say, a region restart) then the money will be returned to you.

The best way to check the status of an order is to look at the My Orders section of your Marketplace account. To do this, log in to Marketplace and click the little down-facing arrow by the side of My Marketplace in the top-right bar, then click My Account:

In the left sidebar on the next page, click Order History:

If an item is still pending delivery (in that eight-hour time slot) it will look something like this:

If the delivery has failed it will look something like this:

If an item was delivered it will look something like this:

If you didn’t receive it, then search for the item in your inventory’s Objects folder, If it’s not there, contact the seller. Marketplace deliveries count as inventory offers and offline messages, which can cap out (ie: you don’t receive them) at as low a number as 25 if you’re offline. So if you receive 15 group notices, 5 offline IMs from a friend, and try to order 10 Marketplace items while you’re not logged in to Second Life, chances are some of them won’t get through.

Be polite when you contact a seller (don’t IM them with, “WTF? I paid for this thing and you didn’t send it! I want another one now!”) and explain that you didn’t receive the item. Ask if it’s possible for it to be re-delivered. Whether the seller does re-deliver is entirely up to them. If an item is no-copy and transferrable then they might not as you could have ordered one for a friend then decided to grab a freebie for yourself. The seller has no way of telling whether the item was actually received; all they see is that their Marketplace ‘magic box’ (which is the current system that handles all deliveries) has sent the item out. They receive no confirmation if an item is accepted.

Avoiding failed deliveries: the shopping cart

One of the prime culprits for failed deliveries is use of the shopping cart. Overload this too much and your deliveries will very likely fail. Through trial and error I’ve found that the maximum number of items wherein you can almost guarantee getting most or all of your order is about seven items. Eight at best. Any more than that and it’s highly likely nothing will get through. So, if an item is important or expensive, buy it separately using the Buy Now button. Don’t add it to the cart!

In the future: Direct Delivery

Linden Lab are currently hard at work on a new Marketplace delivery system called Direct Delivery. This is scheduled to come out of beta and into public use in early 2012.

What will happen is that a new system folder called Received Items will appear in your inventory (and another called Merchant Outbox may also appear; as yet I’m unclear whether this will only appear if you open a Marketplace store or if everyone will have it). Sellers will place items they want to sell on Marketplace into their Merchant Outbox inventory folder, and they will be delivered from there. When you buy something it will automatically appear in your Received Items folder. No need to log in or actually click to receive it. This should hopefully cut down (or eliminate) failed deliveries.

You can read more about direct delivery here: Second Life Marketplace Direct Delivery FAQ.

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