CENTRE FOR BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT: 2013 BUSINESS SURVEY FINDINGS

CENTRE FOR BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

 

2013 BUSINESS SURVEY

 

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In January 2013 the Centre for Business Development in Second Life ™ undertook a survey in order to find out what were the main issues facing residents who had businesses in Second Life ™ from their perspective.

 

The survey was posted on the CBD website for 10 days to allow residents to complete the survey online.  There were 215 responses to the survey, providing us with sufficient qualitative information to identify common issues facing SL businesses.

 

This is a summary of the main results – only the top 4 – 5 responses are given where there were multiple choices.

 

GENERAL SECTION

 

How did you learn about SL?

 

32% Media (radio/tv/magazine)

27% Friends

21% Other internet sites or search engines

7%   Work

5%   Family

 

How long have you been in SL in total?

 

47% More than 5 years

18% 3 – 4 years

17% 4 – 5 years

9%   2 – 3 years

8%   1 – 2 years

 

 

What do you MAINLY use SL for?

 

42% Work

31% Socializing

23% Other

6%  Education

 

Which of the following experiences reflects how you felt when you first joined SL?

 

“It was not easy to learn, but I found help” was the most common response.

As a cosumer in SL what do you mainly spend your money on for pleasure (not work)?

 

Respondents could tick more than one box for this question.

 

57%  Clothes / shoes

52%  Land

34%  Body items (skin, hair etc)

32%  Furniture / garden

23%  Other

 

In the last six months have you upgraded your computer or bought a new one in order to run SL?

 

69%  No

30%  Yes

 

Do you know what pathfinding is?

 

64%  Yes

35%  No

 

Do you use pathfinding?

 

68%  No

5%    Yes

27%  Didn’t answer

 

Name 3 things you like about SL

 

It was clear from the responses received that overwhelmingly residents enjoy Secondlife for:

 

  • Meeting people from all over the world
  • Socializing / friendship
  • The opportunity to be creative in different ways  – art, culture, photography, building, decorating, roleplaying, landscaping,
  • Learning opportunities – classes, learning languages, learning new skills that have RL applications (learning photoshop/gimp, 3D modeling etc)
  • Employment opportunities – earning a RL income, networking globally, bringing RL work into SL
  • Romance – meeting their partners
  • Live music
  • Collaborating with others
  • Roleplaying
  • Social activities
  • It is an “equalizer for the disabled”
  • Able to help others

Name 3 things you don’t like about SL

 

There were multiple issues that were reported by respondents.  I’ve categorized the reported issues into “main” (concerns repeatedly mentioned) and “other” (less frequently mentioned problems).   The main issues have been identified as having significant negative effects on residents and merchants in SL.

 

Main

 

  • High cost of land /tier:  This was the biggest complaint and negatively impacts on residents’ ability to have homes, buy sims, keep businesses open and keep sims open for role playing, culture, education etc.  Concern was also expressed about grandfathered sims, the risk of losing this and it becoming more expensive to own and maintain sims in SL.   The policy of not being able to own a homestead without first owning a full class sim was also raised as an issue.
  • Lag. This has been a consistent and ongoing issue perceived to be caused by mesh, LL upgrades and introduction of new features, LL and third party viewer updates and older computers not able to cope with SL with constant upgrades.   Residents reported repeatedly walking into walls, being stuck, being booted off SL, not being able to rez or build, lots of avatars on sims and servers not coping etc.  There were also multiple complaints about group and locat chat lag.
  • Lack of communication by LL with residents.  Respondents reported multiple examples of a decrease in communication and perceived lack of interest by LL in the concerns of residents, including decreased premium support, fewer communication avenues, less technical support, less help/support for new residents, less support for non-profit and educational facilities, removing residents’ last names and closing jira to open view.
  • Continuous upgrades and improvements, without ongoing bugs being resolved first such as introducing pathfinding before fixing other ongoing bugs that impacted on residents experiences.  The constant upgrades forces viewers to upgrade and people to upgrade their computers, which can impact on those who may not be able to afford to do so such as people on disability, for whom Secondlife is a huge part of their social interaction.
  • Lack of perceived capability by LL to respond quickly and effectively deal with breaches of TOS including reported DMCAs, griefers, copybotters and abusers including allowing people to create multiple alts with the intention of griefing, copybotting, spamming etc.

 

Other

 

  •  Limited prim allocation.
  • Limited group numbers.
  • In-world search.
  • Lack of user friendly forums.
  • Allowing underage people into SL when SL is very sex focused – forcing changes in policy and in how people do business.
  • Different sizes of mesh clothing, lack of deformer for mesh clothing.
  • Caps on IMs.
  • Cost of uploading mesh, textures, photos etc.
  • Privacy issues – what does LL do with all the information on residents it collects,  what does it collect, does it let residents know that it is being collected, are residents able to access it, what is it used for.
  • Too much of a focus on sex, including items depicting rape advertised on marketplace
  • Too much drama, violence, rudeness, anti-social behaviour, dishonesty, phishers.
  • Too many freebies.
  • Not allowing Second Life to have some stability and grow organically.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BUSINESS SECTION

 

What is your main type of business in SL?

 

33% Clothing

27%  Home and garden

7%    Full perm content creators

6%    Land sales/rentals

4%    Media (magazines, radio etc)  / Tools & Gadgets

3%    General entertainment (clubs, singers)

 

How long have you had a business in SL?

 

17%  Less than a year

15%  More than 5 years

13%  3 – 4 years / 4 – 5 years

11%  1 – 2 years / 2 – 3 years

 

Does your SL business provide enough income (Lindens) to cover your business expenses in SL (tier, advertising, capital, templates, textures etc)?

 

35%  Yes

25%   No

 

If you have had a business in SL for over two years what are some of the significant changes in SL that you feel have affected your business (both negatively and positively).

 

The responses were far more negative than positive.

 

Positive

 

  •  The introduction of mesh
  • Working collaboratively
  • Supportive community
  • Direct delivery
  • Less theft of mesh on marketplace
  • More attention to copybotting by Linden Labs
  • Increased realism and in-world imaging – has lead to an increased quality of video production

 

Negative

 

These issues were reported multiple times in responses.

 

  • The introduction of mesh – creating more lag, forcing upgrades of viewers and computers, not well introduced creating multiple issues for builders
  • Cost of land / tier staying the same or going up, while sales are going down
  • Constant upgrades and changes both in-world and on marketplace by Linden Labs – forcing merchants to continuously fix or upgrade their products, merchants having to upskill and upgrade to stay in business
  • Decreasing resident numbers / poor resident retention – leading to a decrease in sales
  • Hunts, sales, midnight mania and freebies – resulted in devaluing items and negative impact on sales
  • Lack of support for merchants and not listening to merchant concerns & support tickets by Linden Lab ™
  • One land estate owner appearing to be favoured by Linden Lab ™, leading to a decrease in the number of small estate owners
  • Search not working well
  • Lack of advertising avenues in SL

 

If you have closed a business in SL over the last 6 months why?

 

People could tick more than one box for this question.  Percentage is of those who answered the question, not the over number of respondents.

 

66% too expensive to continue

40% lack of sales

31% lack of traffic

17% lost interest / too many upgrades/ other

6% real life commitments

 

If you have started a business in SL in the last 6 months, what has been easy / difficult about this?

 

Once again there were some clearly identified common issues, for both easy and difficult.

 

Easy

 

  •   Plenty of help to get started – classes, groups, resources such as textures, animations, sculpts etc.
  •   Easy to learn building.
  •   Easy to get started – finding land, classes, items, prefabs.

 

Difficult

 

  •   Expensive to start up and get established – in land, advertising on marketplace etc
  •   Lack of advertising avenues/options in SL
  •   Difficult to promote and get stores noticed
  •   Hard to market a store in SL
  •   Hard to establish traffic and customers at in-world stores
  •   People wanting a lot for little money
  •   Even for residents who build as a “hobby” – it is time consuming to build and establish a store

 

 

Do you know how to market your business in SL?

 

67%  Yes

13%  No

 

If so, how?  

 

Respondents could select more than one answer

 

19% Social networking sites  (Facebook, Plurk, Flickr)

14% Groups

10% Hunts

7%    Store location / sales events

5%   Blogs

 

List the least effective marketing technique from the choices listed

 

27% Ad-boards

7%   Hunts / Store location

6%   Blogs

5%   Social networking

 

Do you use Marketplace to sell items?

 

60% Yes

16% No

 

What do you like about Marketplace?

 

  • Another avenue for selling items
  • Easy to list items
  • Easy to find and compare items from different merchants
  • No lag associated with in-world stores
  • Better for finding items than using in-world search
  • Faster / cheaper than selling items in-world
  • Reach a wider customer base than inworld store can
  • No land rental costs
  • Easier browsing of items than going from store to store in-world
  • Bigger range of products
  • Able to provide rating / feedback
  • Allows new stores to get known easier than it is in-world
  • Able to send items as gifts

 

What do you dislike about Marketplace?

 

I’ve categorized the reported issues into “main” (issues repeatedly mentioned) and “other” (less frequently mentioned issues).

From some of the issues raised, it appears that there may be poor explanation of how Marketplace works for merchants and what they are able to do in listing / editing / deleting multiple items.

 

Main Issues

 

  •   Negatively effects in-world shopping was listed multiple times as a major concern.
  •  Pages filled up by listings of the same item in different colours/textures by the same merchant.
  •   Pages of freebies / cheap items – affects ability for merchants to have their high quality items found.
  •   A lot of old content is still listed by merchants who are no longer in SL.
  •   Keyword search system is poor – multiple items come up that are not related to the keywords used.
  •  The cost of advertising on MP too expensive.
  •   Merchants are not able to delete items.
  •   Merchants are not able to list more than one brand.
  •   Merchants are not able to categorise their own listings on their pages.
  •    Not able to refund customers for failed deliveries or allow for redelivery of item – merchant has to search through inventory and send to customer.
  •    If there is a failed delivery and the creator is no longer online, the customer does not get the item or a refund for the failed delivery.  The creator also may choose to ignore the request from a customer.
  •    MP constantly breaks or has bugs that are not fixed before new updates are introduced.

 

Other

 

  •   Search by “relevance” doesn’t work.
  •    To use Direct Delivery merchants have to update viewers and computers.
  •    Rating system is corrupt (can get friends to buy and leave good ratings).
  •    Customers can leave an unfair poor feedback / rating because of minor issue or issue not in the control of the creator.
  •    Merchants can not ban people from buying items on MP, who may be banned from the store in-world due to copybotting / griefing / abuse of TOS etc.
  •    Merchants cant add videos – have to link to YouTube or Flickr
  •   Lots of sellers without in-world stores.
  •    Too few vendors use good descriptive words for their items.
  •    Too many copybotted or copyright infringement items.
  •    Needs better filters for mesh / demo / free items.
  •    Lack of sufficient reporting options / measurement tools for merchants.
  •    MP is overcrowded, full of obsolete, poor quality or freebie items.

 

One suggestion that could apply not just to Marketplace, but Second Life ™ in general is that there is no live support or LL ™ support group specifically for merchants / creators.

 

 

DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION

 

We specifically asked for demographic information, as there has been a general feeling that LL ™ is developing and marketing Second Life ™ for young gamers, ignoring the needs and concerns of existing and long-term residents.

 

Gender

 

67% Female

30% Male

 

Age Ranges

 

4%     13 – 20

8%     21 – 30

26%   31 – 40

30%   41 – 50

25%   51 – 60

6%     61 – 70

1%      70 and over

 

 

Thank you to the residents who took the time to complete the first SL Business Survey by the Centre for Business Development.
This information will be extremely useful to the CBD and other interested parties in helping us to develop strategies to address the issues identified in the report.   It will be a challenge, but we look forward to making SL better for merchants and residents.

 

 

Heavenly Villa & Bill Kaye

The Centre for Business Development Trustees

 

 

 

 

Meeting Minutes: 3 March 2013

Recorded by Heavenly Villa

Welcome to 2013

We are starting off 2013 with a rejuvenated Centre for Business Development group and would like people to be as involved as their time and demands allow.

NEW BUSINESS CENTRE

Part of this is the opening of a new Centre building. We hope you will stop by and check out the new centre.

We will be putting in information downstairs for people to access and have a new lovely meeting area upstairs – complete with coffee and cake.
MEETINGS

We have discussed the time and purpose of the meetings. We want to make these as productive as possible given the demands on everyones time.

We will hold a monthly meeting where we can plan our tasks for the month, keeping these realistic, achievable and working towards our goals.

Meetings will be held on the first sunday of every month at 1 pm SLT. This will allow group members plenty of time to organise their schedules to attend and for group members on UK time to attend if they wish to.

MEETING – 3 March 2013

Thanks to those who were able to attend the meeting today.

We had more robust discussion around issues facing business people in SL – third party viewers, direct delivery vs magic boxes & marketplace, resident retention, communicating with LL and advertising of SL.

1. CBD Survey

Some of the issues discussed were topics covered in the recent CBD survey. Heavenly has recently been busy with RL and SL work, but can now focus on getting the results and report on the survey done.

2. CBD Website

Bill will focus on the website – making sure information is available for people on the website. The results of the survey will also be posted on the website.

Bill will post the 3 streams / areas of work / goals on the website.
When the survey report is completed, group members can decide what are our priorities and areas to focus on.

We will be providing the opportunity for group members to let us know what they feel our priorities and goals should be.

3. Linden Labs

Bill updated the group on his discussions with LL. He had made contacted with Peter Linden, the official spokesman for LL. Peter clarified that while LL stopped releasing statistics, it did not mean that they no longer captured them.

We are still keen to make contact with LL and provide them with input and suggestions. We are concerned that LL may not be listening to the needs and concerns of residents, and while we are keen to do things for ourselves to improve the economy and businesses in SL, we would still like to have that open dialogue with LL.

4. Marketplace

We had discussions around what the future of marketplace may be. We know there has been speculation on blogs and inworld on what may be coming up, but no confirmation at this stage from LL on any of the rumours. Once we hear anything confirmed, we will let the group know.

On the good side, business people who use MP direct delivery have indicated there are far fewer bugs with dd now. It is alot more reliable.

ACTIONS TO BE TAKEN:

Bill to update the website with strategies, info and goals
Heavenly to complete the survey report
Tess to make more chocolate cake

We are happy to receive your questions, input and feedback at any time.

Regards

CBD Team

A New Home for the Centre for Business Development

Centre for Business Development_Office_001

Centre for Business Development_Office_001The Centre for Business Development has moved from the fourth floor of the old inKLine Media building into its own facility on the same land.  (Click for SLURL here).

The two-floor facility provides ample work space for business meetings, an information area and a bounty of food stocked in our kitchen.  Plans for a formal grand opening are in the works, but visitors are more than welcome to visit by clicking here.  A special thanks goes out to Heavenly Villa of L’aize Dayz for the furnishing and landscaping.

Some recent changes should be noted in the format of the meeting schedule.  In an effort to make our meeting more time friendly to our friends in various time zones, we set our meeting time to 1:00 PM.  We also limited meetings to one per month and the purview to mobilization.  This means, the meetings will be a bit more moderated than in meetings past in order to keep the conversations from veering off topic.

Other special events related to business will be scheduled as needed.  We’re in the process of inviting some interesting guest speakers to meet with us.

This Sunday marked the first meeting since the renovations took place.  Heavenly Villa provided more detailed meeting notes, which I will post in the next blog, but I wanted to note some of the goals for the month.

1) Very soon, we’ll be publishing the results of the CBD survey, which revealed some extremely interesting responses.

2) This month, we’d like to generate more interactivity on the web-site.

We are fully aware that we can only capture a small portion of the business community through our in-world meetings.  That’s why we need your help.  Please respond in our comments section with suggestions, questions, ideas or anything else we can do to further our goal of fostering the SL business community.

3) As mentioned earlier, plans for a formal grand opening are in the works, and I’m sure there will be many surprises.  So make sure to keep up with the CBD here, or join our group in-world.

–Bill Kaye

Centre for Business Development Trustee