SL Groups and the E2V System

I’m often asked if the E2V system does “group discounts” – and the answer is a qualified “no.” When I think of “group discounts” I come up with two possible scenarios. The first is where group members pay a lower price than non-group members. The second is where group members receive cash back after paying the same price as non-group members. Let me explain why neither of these are great approaches in Second Life, and then explain what the E2V system does instead.

Two Prices
It is possible, using the SL “pay” dialog, to present two price buttons with different amounts. What’s not possible is to prevent someone from pressing the wrong button – both buttons are equally clickable by anyone, whether you have the group tag on or not. It is only after the Lindens have been deducted from the customer’s account, and transferred to yours, that a script can validate someone’s click. In other words, a person without a group tag can click the group price, and a person with the group tag can click the non-group price. So how would the script deal with these scenarios?

In the case of a non-group member clicking the lower price (and who wouldn’t?) the customer is due a refund of the entire payment amount, and would have to be informed that amount is only for those wearing the proper group tag. In the case of a person wearing the group tag and pressing the higher-priced non-group button, they would be due a refund of the difference between the price they paid, and the group price.

Both of these scenarios require that the system obtain debit permissions from the store owner, in order to be able to pay the customers. I’ve expressed my feelings about debit permissions on many occasions, but suffice it to say that I would never grant debit permissions to anyone else’s script, and therefore I certainly do not expect any of my customers to do it either. Granted, there are some scenarios (like splits) where there’s just no convenient or better way around it, and I’ve reluctantly implemented the requirement for debit permissions in those cases.

So to sum up – any approach where people can select the “wrong” amount to pay, requires debit permissions, and is therefore something I’m not terribly motivated to support.

Cash Back for Group Members
Debit permissions. Enough said.

The E2V Approach: Store Credit
It’s still possible to treat your group members specially, using Buyer’s Rewards. There are two rates of buyer’s rewards available on every vendor, one for group and one for non-group. There are a couple advantages to using store credit:

  • You do not earn less money from group members.
  • Store credit is an incentive for your customers to come back to your store.

For example, if all your items sell for L$100, and you offer 10% buyer’s rewards for group members, they essentially can get an 11th item for free. Isn’t getting them back into your store, and wearing/using your product, better than giving them L$100 in cash that they might spend elsewhere? 🙂