Kitely Market Presented in OpenSim Community Conference 2014

Virtual Reality is coming and it’s kickstarting the Metaverse. By the nature of the Metaverse, multiple virtual world platforms will compete for market share. This means that the Metaverse will be based on many technologies, which will make it difficult for content creators to reach and support all of their potential customers. Mass-market end users will need content delivered directly to their avatars on whatever virtual environment they are using, instead of being sold downloadable files that they have to install themselves, as other 3D content marketplaces do.

This is where Kitely Market comes in. Kitely Market is a virtual goods marketplace that is designed to enable content creators to serve avatars from all across the Metaverse from a single online store. Its mission is to create a critical mass of content, merchants and buyers to help the Metaverse evolve from a collection of separate systems to a unified market that can attract more merchants, buyers, money, activity, and interest for everyone.

The following presentation introduces Kitely Market, discusses its many benefits for merchants, consumers and businesses across the Metaverse, and concludes with some insights gained from Kitely Market’s first year in business.

Here is the video:

Here are my slides:

Related Products and Improved Management Tools in Kitely Market

We updated Kitely Market today with improvements that help merchants manage a large collection of products more easily. Merchants can now use the Manage Products page to quickly find the products they’re looking for, organize them into groups and then perform operations on those groups of products. We also added a “Related Products” feature, which uses this new grouping functionality.

Improved Management Tools

For merchants, one of the most important parts of Kitely Market is the “Manage Products” page. This is where merchants can view all of their products, edit them, and add new products. Previously this page always showed the merchant’s products in reverse chronological order, with no ability to search or filter the products. We’ve now added the ability to search and filter using:

  • Text search
  • Category
  • Group (groups are explained later in this post)
  • Status (Active, Inactive, etc.)
  • Different sort orders (Newest, Best Selling, etc.)

Manage Products

We also added a new sort order, “Name”, which sorts results alphabetically by the product name. This sort order is available in the main search page, too (where regular users can use it).

Another improvement to this page is the addition of a “Select All” checkbox, which selects all of the products in the page. Previously merchants that wanted to select all the products had to click the checkbox next to each product individually.

And finally, in addition to all of these features, the new page works much faster than before!

Product Groups

We’re introducing a new feature today: “Product Groups”. Groups are a way for merchants to organize their products: merchants define groups, and then assign products to these groups. As mentioned in the previous section, the Manage Products page now allows filtering products by group.

Groups aren’t user-visible: they’re for the merchant’s use only.

There are two places where products can be assigned to groups:

1. In the Edit Product page. Click “Change Groups” to open a dialog where you can choose which groups the product belongs to.

View Groups (One Product)

This is the Change Groups dialog:

Change Groups (One Product)

As usual when making changes in the Edit Product page, this change will only take effect once you click “Accept changes”.

2. You can also assign products to groups in the Manage Products page. This page lets you select multiple products and change their groups at once. To do so, select some products, and then select from the Actions menu: “Change Groups”. The changes you make in the Change Groups dialog will affect all of the selected products.

Batch Change Groups

Unlike the Edit Product page, changes you make in the Manage Products page affect the products immediately (there’s no need to click “Accept changes”).

Managing Groups

The Manage Groups page lets you add, rename and delete groups. You get to the Manage Groups page by clicking on a link in the Manage Store page:

Link to Manage Groups

This is what the Manage Groups page looks like:

Manage Groups

Related Products

When users view a product in Kitely Market, the product page now optionally shows a section called “Related Products”. This section displays up to six products, which are chosen randomly from among all of the groups that the viewed product belongs to. For example:

Related Products

Thanks to Groups, the Related Products feature is very easy to use. For example, suppose a merchant has a group called “Patio Furniture”, which contains all of their patio furniture products. When the merchant creates a new product of this type, they only have to add that one product to the group. This single action automatically causes the new product to appear as a “Related Product” in all of the other products in the group, and vice-versa. There’s no need to explicitly mark each of the products in the group as a “Related Product” of the new product.

We’ve integrated Related Products into Kitely Market Analytics: there’s a new channel type called “Related Products”. When users click on a product that they see in the “Related Products” section, and later possibly buy that product, the sale is attributed to the Related Products channel.

Related Products - Analytics

Kitely Market to Support High Fidelity

High Fidelity

Kitely Market was designed from the beginning to be a multi-platform marketplace. To that end, a year ago we announced our content liberation front initiative for helping Second Life content creators prepare their content for sale to buyers outside of Second Life. At that time Kitely Market only worked inside the Kitely grid, but a few months later we expanded its scope significantly by allowing sales to avatars on any Hypergrid-enabled OpenSim grid. Today we’re announcing our intention to expand the scope of Kitely Market even further: Kitely Market will support delivery to the next-generation virtual worlds platform High Fidelity, once that system becomes mature enough to accept deliveries.

If you are a Second Life content creator then Kitely Market and the content migration tools that it provides can help you prepare your content for monetization outside of Second Life. You can use Kitely Market today to sell to hundreds of Hypergrid-enabled grids from one online store, and soon you’ll be able to use that same store to sell to users of other virtual world platforms as well. As Kitely Market adds support for more virtual worlds, your items will gain a larger market. To get started, see: The Content Liberation Front

Content Liberation Front update

Kitely Market is one of our main assets and we’ve been working hard to make it into the best multi-platform virtual-goods marketplace. There are many more features that we want to add to Kitely Market, so we need to prioritize what we work on. We’ve therefore decided not to spend time implementing the marketplace listing export functionality that we had described in our Content Liberation Front blog post. To date no merchant has requested to get this data, and we feel that investing our resources to support this functionality doesn’t make business sense. If there are any merchants that were counting on this data then they can send us a request (by email) and we’ll send them their listings’ metadata as a tab-delimited file. Since creating this data requires a time-consuming manual process, and we want to be able to focus our energy on the continued development of our services, we will only accept such requests until November 1, 2014.

Please keep in mind that this change affects only the listings metadata, but it doesn’t affect your ability to backup your actual items (the products themselves). You can backup your items whenever you want, in several ways: first, you can put them in a box in a Kitely world and export that world to an OpenSim Archive (OAR) file that is saved on your computer; second, you can send the items via the Hypergrid to your avatar on another grid.

Promoting Products in Kitely Market Using Ads

Today we added another major feature to Kitely Market: ads. Ads are important to allow merchants to promote their products, since Kitely Market contains thousands of products and it isn’t always easy for even exceptional products to stand out. The new ads system is fully integrated into Kitely Market’s advanced analytics component. This means that merchants can now easily advertise their products, and track the effectiveness of their advertising campaigns.

How Ads Appear in Kitely Market

When users browse Kitely Market, ads appear above the regular search results. Unlike other marketplaces, Kitely Market supports two types of ads: Product Ads and Store Ads.

Product Ads promote specific products. A Product Ad is tied to one particular product, and shows that product’s thumbnail and details. When the ad is clicked, the Product Page is shown.

For example:

Product Ads

Product Ads

Store Ads promote an entire store. Store Ads look similar to banner ads: they display a custom image that the merchant has uploaded, and they take up as much room as three Product Ads. When the ad is clicked, the Store Page is shown.

For example:

Store Ad

Store Ad

Creating Ads

To create an ad, go to the Manage Ads page by selecting “Go to > Manage Ads” from the navigation menu. Then click “Create Product Ad” or “Create Store Ad”, and fill in the ad details in the dialog.

It’s also possible to create Product Ads from the product page, by clicking “Create Ad”. That’s just a shortcut that automatically fills in the current product in the dialog, so that you don’t have to enter it yourself.

Prices

The price of an ad depends on its duration and where it appears. The location where an ad appears is called its Placement. There are two types of Placements: in the Front Page of Kitely Market, and in a Category.

Product Ads (size 1)

Placement
Price
Front page $0.33 / day
Top level category $0.15 / day
Internal category $0.10 / day

Store Ads (size 3)

Placement
Price
Front page $1.00 / day
Top level category $0.45 / day
Internal category $0.30 / day

Although these tables show the prices in USD, ads may also be purchased using Kitely Credits (KC).

Analytics

When you buy an ad, it’s important to know if it was cost-effective. Ads have two benefits: they can lead directly to sales, and they can increase brand awareness (which increases sales in the long term).

Kitely Market has outstanding Analytics, and we have fully integrated ads into the analytics component. Ad analytics appear in two places:

First, there’s a dedicated Manage Ads page that shows all of the ads in your store, and each ad’s performance: how many times it was viewed (“impressions”); how many times it was clicked; and how many sales resulted directly from the ad. The number of impressions is a measure of the effectiveness of the ad in promoting your brand.

Second, the main Analytics page has a new type of Channel called “Ads”, which shows product impressions and views that resulted from ads.

There are some more details involved with how ads work. For those who are interested, see the Ads documentation page for more information.

Other Improvements

We’ve updated to OpenSim 0.8.0.2, which contains several bug fixes.

We’ve updated to Mono 3.10.0, which contains several bug fixes and performance improvements.

We fixed a bug that prevented multiple clothing layers from working in some cases. This fix is effective, but it only works in Kitely for now because the real bug in the viewer, and we just implemented a server-side workaround. We reported this bug and how to solve it to the Firestorm and Singularity teams, and Firestorm has already fixed it, so it will be part of the next release of Firestorm. At that point all users of OpenSim (and Second Life) will get this fix.

Kitely Donates $250 to help OSGrid Recover from its Crash

OSGrid is OpenSim’s official development grid, and its existence is crucial for testing new OpenSim versions. Unfortunately more than a month ago the hard disks that were used to store all of the grid’s data crashed, and OSGrid has been offline ever since.

Recovering from that data loss has cost more than $4800, and the people that manage OSGrid have asked for donations to cover the expense. We’ve therefore decided to step up and donate $250 to OSGrid. If you’d like to support the development of OpenSim then please donate some money as well, by clicking this image:

OSgrid-donation-ad

A Minute of Your Time Can Help Bring More People to Kitely

Hypergrid Business is now holding its fifth annual OpenSim grid survey. Please help us attract additional people to the Kitely community by answering this short multiple choice survey. Last year many of you participated in the survey and, as a result, Kitely came out on top for “How do you rate this grid overall?”.  Your support helped Kitely grow and become the leading commercial provider of hypergrid-enabled regions. It also helped convince content creators to list their items in Kitely Market, which has given people from across the metaverse access to high quality content they couldn’t have easily acquired otherwise.

Thank you!

Advanced Analytics for Kitely Market

We’re proud to announce that we’ve added a major new feature to Kitely Market: detailed, actionable analytics. This new system enables merchants to track how their store performs, and gives them insights on how to improve their sales. In addition to its already considerable utility, the analytics system is also a prerequisite for several exciting features that we’ll be rolling out in the coming months. These features will help make Kitely Market the most advanced virtual-goods marketplace available on any virtual world platform.

Today’s update also includes a couple of other user-requested features.

Overview

Analytics provide merchants with information about how people interact with their products in the Kitely Market website: how often the products are viewed; how often people who view the products choose to buy them; which products sell best; and much more. This information is useful for deciding which new products to add to the market, and how to set prices in order to maximize sales.

Analytics are available for each product individually, as well as for the entire store as a whole.

Store Analytics

If you have a store in Kitely Market then you can get to its analytics page from the navigation menu:

Navigation Menu: Store Analytics

This is what the Store Analytics page looks like (using a demo store, “Astoria”):

Let’s go through the parts of this page one by one.

Header

Analytics Header

On the left side of the header you can choose which group of analytics to display:

  • Conversion – shows how many times your products were viewed, and the relationship between views and sales (this relationship is called “Conversion”).
  • Channels – shows how people find your products.

On the right side of the header there are date selection controls. The date picker lets you choose which dates to view (the default is the last month). The resolution buttons determine the resolution in which the data is displayed: Day, Week or Month. For example, if you choose a large date range (e.g., a year) then viewing 365 separate data points would be overwhelming. It’s more useful to view just 12 data points instead, so the resolution is automatically switched to Month (but you can then switch it to Day or Week if you want).

Store Analytics – Conversion

This section describes the charts that are shown if you select the Conversion option in the header.

Store Summary

Store Summary

This panel shows the total number of views and sales of your products in the selected date range.

  • Impressions – how many times your products’ thumbnails were viewed.
  • Product Views – how many times people viewed the Product Page of your products.
  • Sales - how many times your products were purchased.
  • Revenue – how much you earned from these sales. The revenue is shown after Kitely’s fees have been deducted.
  • Demo – how many times users sent themselves demos of your products.
  • Wishlist – how many times users added your products to their Wishlists.

Timeline

Timeline Graph

This graph shows your products’ Impressions and Product Views over the selected date range. It also shows the revenue from sales. The graph makes it easy to discover relationships between product exposure and revenue.

You can hover your mouse over any data point in the graph to get the exact value of that point.

Top Categories

Top Categories Graph

This chart shows which of your categories sell the most (by revenue). This can help you decide which types of products to add to your store.

Top Grids

Top Grids Graph

This chart shows where your products are delivered the most. (If you don’t have Exportable products then only Kitely will appear in this chart.)

Products

Products Table

This table shows each of the products in your store, with detailed statistics about their views, sales, etc. Click on the column headers to sort by different statistics.

At the bottom of this table there are links to download CSV reports:

  • Download timeline report – creates a report that contains the data shown in the Timeline graph, i.e. the total statistics of the store for each day in the date range. (Or each week or month, if that’s the resolution that you selected.)
  • Download products report – creates a report that contains the data shown in the Products table.

Store Analytics – Channels

This section describes the charts that are shown if you select the Channels option in the header.

Channels: Top Level

Channels track how people get to your products. Each way in which people can get to your products is a Channel. There are three top-level channels:

  • Direct – the person entered your product page directly, without coming from a search page. This can happen if the person had bookmarked the URL, or refreshed the browser while on the product page.
  • Search Market – the person was browsing Kitely Market, and saw your product.
  • Search Store – the person was browsing Kitely Market inside your store, and saw your product. We consider this a different channel from “Search Market” because when a person is inside your store your products don’t need to compete with other merchants’ products for that person’s attention.

The “Search Market” and “Search Store” channels are further subdivided into these channels:

  • Front Page – the person saw your product in the front page of Kitely Market or the front page of your store (i.e., without entering any specific search terms or viewing a specific category).
  • Categories – the person clicked on a specific category, and saw your product inside that category.
  • Keywords – the person entered text in the search field.

For example, you can see which categories people find your products in, and how that affects which of your products they actually buy. In the following chart, notice that the “Business Tools” category is over-performing: it has a low number of views but contributes the most to the merchant’s revenue. That means that perhaps the products in that category are especially desirable, or face low competition. On the other hand, the “Interior Design”  category is under-performing, with high views but low sales. Perhaps something can be done to improve the products in that category.

Channels: Categories

As you can see above, the Channels page shows three charts side by side. These charts form a sort of table: each of the rows corresponds to one channel, and each of the charts shows one statistic for that channel. We use three separate charts instead of a single chart because each of these statistics (Impressions, Product Views and Revenue) uses a different scale.

You can click on the column headers in the table to change the sort order. When you do that, the charts change to show the top channels according to the current sort order. If you sort by the Sales column then the Revenue chart  will be replaced with a Sales chart.

Product Analytics

All of the charts described above contain statistics for your entire store. You can also view statistics for individual products. There are two ways to get to the product analytics page:

  • In the Store Analytics page, go to the Products table and click on a product name.
  • In the main Product Page, click on the Analytics link.

Most of the charts shown in the Product Analytics page are identical to the charts shown in the Store Analytics page, so we won’t discuss them again. However, the following charts are unique to the Product Analytics page:

Variations

Variations Graph

This chart shows the distribution of sales between your product’s variations. This can help you find out which colors people prefer, whether they prefer to buy Export or No-Export variations, etc.

Timeline Details

Timeline Table

This table shows a numerical representation of the same data that is shown in the Timeline graph at the top of the page. By comparing the “Price” and “Sales/Revenue” columns you can find the effect that changing a product’s price has on its sales and revenue.

Additional Notes

You can learn more about how analytics work in the Kitely Market Analytics section of our wiki. It explains a few subtle points that we didn’t mention in this blog post.

The analytics system was completed today, September 16, 2014. Data such as Impressions, Product Views, etc. is only partially available before this date (and not available at all prior to August 8, 2014). However, sales data is fully available for all dates.

The analytics charts are updated once per day, after the day ends (in GMT time). So if you change the date range to include the current day then you’ll only see some sales information, but not full analytics. For this reason, the default date range doesn’t include the current day.

Other Features

Besides analytics, we also implemented a couple of features that were requested by our users:

Merchants have a feature available called “Test delivery” that sends their avatar a test version of a product. This feature can be used to deliver the product to other avatars as well, by changing the delivery target in the Shopping Cart. In order to make it clear which avatar will get the test delivery, we now show a message with the name of the receiving avatar before delivering the product.

In the Edit Product page, we added a Delete All button to the Variation Items table. This button deletes all of the variation items at once (instead of having to select them one at a time). This is useful when updating a variation, since at that point merchants frequently need to delete all of the existing items and upload new items.

New Kitely Market Homepage and Increased Idle Timeout

Over the next few weeks we’ll introduce several big upgrades to Kitely Market. Today we’re releasing the first (and smallest) of these upgrades: a new homepage for Kitely Market. Today’s update also includes an increase of the idle timeout for world managers and Premium Account members.

New Homepage for Kitely Market

When you visit Kitely Market, before you execute any search, you see the Kitely Market “Homepage”. Before today we didn’t have a special homepage for Kitely Market, so we simply showed 15 random products. But starting today the homepage will show products that are likely to be interesting and useful to you. We do this by showing a few popular categories, and some of the most interesting items in each category. The new homepage also displays a few of the newest products, which will help these products get exposure.

Kitely Market Home Page

If you’re logged-in when you visit Kitely Market then the homepage will become even better, because it will be customized to you. For example, the products that you see may change depending on which products you’ve bought in the past.

Increased Idle Timeout for World Managers and Premium Account Members

Kitely automatically disconnects avatars who have been idle in-world for 30 minutes. This ensures that worlds don’t keep running indefinitely if you forget to close your viewer. However, we’ve received complaints that sometimes this timeout is too short. That’s especially a problem for builders, who might be working in Blender for a while and then return to the viewer to find that they’ve been disconnected, and have to login again.

We’ve therefore decided to increase this timeout to 2 hours for world managers in their own world, as well as for all users who have a Premium Account (even when they visit other peoples’ worlds). This will eliminate timeouts in the most common cases: people who are building their world, or are actively using their world but not moving (e.g., using voice).

Some User Interface Improvements

We updated our website today with a couple of user interface improvements.

Shorter “New World” and “Manage World” Dialogs

We redesigned the New World and Manage World dialogs to make them shorter, because previously they were too high to be fully displayed on some low resolution screens. In the new dialogs, the selection of Access Control Groups has been moved to a separate dialog:

Manage Access Groups

Direct Access to Try Demo

Kitely Market allows products to define Demos. Previously users who wanted to try a demo had to perform two steps:

  1. Add the product to the Shopping Cart
  2. In the Shopping Cart, click “Try demo”

In order to make Demos more accessible we simplified this process, turning it to just one step, by moving the “Try demo” link to the Product Page:

Try Demo

OpenSim 0.8 and Improved Search

We updated Kitely today with several improvements, including an enhanced version of OpenSim 0.8; experimental support for BulletSim; and better in-world search. We contributed some of our patches to OpenSim core so other grids will be able to benefit from them as well.

OpenSim 0.8

We upgraded to OpenSim 0.8. For the full list of improvements, see the Release Notes.

We spent several weeks testing this version of OpenSim, and we found and fixed several problems. One of the most important fixes was for a problem where attachments disappear from the avatar after a Hypergrid teleport. We fixed this bug in Kitely, and we also contributed the patch to OpenSim core. Regions in other grids that run the latest version of OpenSim (i.e., not an official release) should already have this patch. However, regions that use only official releases of OpenSim still suffer from this bug. Therefore, if you Hypergrid teleport to a region that doesn’t have the latest cutting-edge version of OpenSim then your attachments may disappear from your avatar. They’re still in your inventory, however, so you’ll be able to reattach them once you return to the Kitely grid.

On top of our frequent code contributions to OpenSim, our enhanced version of OpenSim includes more than 400 features and optimizations that are exclusive to Kitely.

Changing the Physics Engine

We now allow world managers to choose which physics engine their world uses. This is done in the Advanced tab of the Manage World dialog:

Select Physics Engine

There are three options:

None – no physics. Avatars can walk through any objects in the world. This is sometimes useful for testing, e.g. to check if the cause of high lag in a world is due to the physics engine.

ODE – uses the Open Dynamics Engine library. This is the most widely used physics engine in OpenSim, and it’s the default on Kitely.

BulletSim (Experimental) – uses the BulletSim library. It has some improvements and some drawbacks compared to ODE. If you don’t have a specific reason to choose BulletSim then we recommend sticking with ODE.

We’ve been testing BulletSim for a while now, and unfortunately it doesn’t seem ready for general use. When a world includes moderately complicated Physical objects, BulletSim is very slow (much slower than ODE). We’ve reported these problems and we hope for a solution, but in the meanwhile we strongly recommend using ODE. Nevertheless, we’ve enabled the option of using BulletSim in order to facilitate testing. If the problems with BulletSim become overwhelming then we will remove this option (i.e., leaving only the options “ODE” and “None”).

Improved In-World Search

The in-world search page (which is reached by pressing Ctrl+F) now allows searching for worlds. (Previously it only allowed searching for users.) When you find a world you like, you can teleport to it. This doesn’t replace Kitely’s main search page; it’s only used when searching in-world.

Find Worlds In Viewer

Customer Testimonials

We now show a few customer testimonials in the homepage. We want to send a HUGE thank-you to the people who agreed to let us publish their quotes! These testimonials are important to show prospective new users that other people are using our service and find it useful.

Other Improvements

There was a problem where avatars would hover a little above the ground; now they should appear to walk directly on it. Note that this can only be tested when walking on flat terrain or prims, since when walking on slanted terrain the issue of where to show the avatar’s feet is very complicated and therefore it isn’t easy to tell if the avatar is appearing in the correct height or not.

We improved the World Map: the maps should now render meshes more accurately. Since we only update map tiles once per day, it will take a little time before this change becomes visible.

We’ve enabled a system called XBakes, which reduces the time that it takes avatars to fully rezz when they enter a world.

We now prevent the creation of users that have an underscore in their first name, because Firestorm doesn’t allow such users to login.