Second Life Marketplace: nearly doubling virtual goods sales in one year

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In January of 2009 Linden Lab has acquired the two largest Web-based virtual goods commerce sites for Second Life. Electric Sheep Company's OnRez and Jay Geeseman's Xstreet were both acquired and the Xstreet market is the product that I worked to redesign. Members of Second Life users are caller "residents" and all of the virtual goods created in Second Life are created by the residents themselves and sold to one another - think "Etsy" for virtual goods. Both of these online markets were created by residents using the Second Life scripting language as the fulfillment method. For a 5% sales commission, the sites serve up an Amazon.com-like one-stop shopping experience for Second Life goods.


Below: The Secondlife Marketplace in 2008
Land Store Before Redesign

In 2008 Linden Lab estimated that its users traded about $360 million worth of virtual goods (not including land), with XStreet SL and OnRez brokering about 1% of that, or roughly $36 million in trades. By the time the redesign was over and the sales results from Q4 of 2010 were reported, the Second Life Marketplace had nearly doubled sales. Before I left the project the Marketplace had over 61,000 Merchants and 53,000 merchant stores. The redesign increased the number of economic transactions by 23% and increased daily unique shoppers by 13%. By changing the SEO of the product pages and product urls the redesign generated a 7-fold increase from 18K to 130K in the number of visits from search engines and a 300-fold increase in new visitors from 116 to 37K.

In October of 2008 I presented to the Linden Lab leadership a plan for improving the Second life Profile that included web based stores for each resident. By sharing shopping activity in the profile (wish lists, purchase recommendations and resident created virtual goods) revenues would increase as well as overall product adoption. Shopping is fun and social.


Below: Mock up of the Second Life Profile with a virtual goods store for each member
Land Store Before Redesign
The Marketplace redesign was a huge project and I worked with a great team. Michael Brodesky was our Senior Technical E-Commerce Manager, the talented team at Hot Studio provided visual design and mapped out the UX details and Pivotal Labs supported the internal engineering team with pair programming in Ruby using agile/scrum/extreme programming methods. I was on the project from beginning to end, beginning as the user experience designer, leading the interactions and the UX integration with Second life as the Virtual Marketplace Experience Manager and then acting as Product Manger at the end of the project. The redesign launched on October 6th, 2010.

Prior to the completion of the Xstreet acquisition in January of 2009 I created a mock up of a Second Life Marketplace product detail page. The final detial page of the site launched in October of 2010 is very close to my vision.


Below: An early Mock up of the Marketplace detail page - see larger image
Land Store Before Redesign
Below: An image of the final Marketplace detail page - see actual page
Land Store Before Redesign

Below: Before the project I interviewed over twenty in-World merchants, held in world round tables with shoppers. We surveyed merchants and worked with them closely in beta testing. Below are screens from the persona document.
Example Document: PDF of Marketplace persona document Land Store Before Redesign
Below: With over over 61,000 Merchants and 53,000 merchant stores, a robust Merchant store management experience was critical. Below is an example of a manage inventory page
Land Store Before Redesign

Below: An example of a transaction report page
Land Store Before Redesign

Below: One of my focuses were the critical transaction flows. Below is a page from the shopping cart wire frame document
Example Document: PDF of the shopping cart wire frame document Land Store Before Redesign

Below: In January of 2011, the results of the redesign were public. The Marketplace is the leading rising revenue stream for Linden Lab - see blog post
Land Store Before Redesign