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? 🙂

 

 

E2V: VIP Credit

One of the easily overlooked features of the E2V system is VIP Credit. This short article will explain quickly what it is, and what you might use it for.

VIP Credit is a way to give out “free” store credit to certain people. It’s a kiosk or terminal that you build, and add a script to – so you control how it looks. If an avatar is approved (more on that in a sec) they can click the terminal, and their store credit account is credited with an amount you determine. People can click only once per “round” – though you can reset the round at any time.

There are two ways to specify who can collect this credit gift. You can either create a notecard with a list of specific names, or you can set the terminal to your group, and then anyone with your group tag active can participate.

One possible usage of this feature would be something akin to a monthly group credit allowance. You simply set up the terminal to be group only, and then reset it every month.

Another possible usage is to give store credit to a select list of bloggers. You would add their names to a notecard, and perhaps reset the list before each release you’d like to invite them to.

VIP Credit can be an alternative to sending out free items, or can be an incentive for customers to come to the store.

You should already have the box in the E2V folder of your inventory (use the Filter Inventory input to search for “VIP”), but if you’d like to make sure you have the latest, just shoot me an IM in world.

(The latest for Version 3 users is called “[E2V-3] VIP Credit (Rez me)” and for version 2 users it’s called “[E2V-IS] VIPCredit 1.2”)

 

 

My Availability

As of March 17th, 2014, I’ve started a new day job. I previously worked at home, which gave me a lot of flexibility in terms of checking my email, answering questions, and even logging in during the daytime if needed. But my new job is much less flexible, and comes with a massive commute – meaning that there are at least 3 hours of my day that I’m utterly unavailable.

When it comes to support questions, my policy is to answer current customers before answering potential new customers. I do realize this likely means less sales for me, but I value my customers and think their needs/questions should come first.

So here’s how you can make the most effective use of your time (and mine) …

Existing Customers
If you’ll please keep these points in mind, it’ll help me offer you the best possible support:

  1. Never send me notecards. They might not get read for days.
  2. Never hesitate to send me an IM or email. I find it extremely distressing when a customer says to me “I struggled with this for soooo long, and just can’t figure it out, so I’m contacting you.” UGH, that makes me feel like dog poop. There’s no need to struggle with anything for “so long” when you can just IM me and ask! I don’t want you to come to me once you’re already frustrated, that’s no fun for either of us. I appreciate when people try to figure things out on their own, but please don’t let a question or problem fester, when I’m so totally willing to help you in any way I can.
  3. When you contact me, I need details, lots of details. If something’s not working, it doesn’t help me if you say it’s not working! I need to know what you’re seeing that makes you think it’s not working, what the symptoms are, any messages you see, etc. Please, please provide too many details in the first message, I promise you’ll save us both time!
  4. Please check the documentation. As you can imagine, I answer a lot of the same questions over and over, and that’s why I write stuff down, to save my poor fingers. The documentation for version 3 of the E2V system is found here.

Potential Customers
Thank you so much for your interest in the E2V system! I will be happy to talk to you about your business needs, and see if E2V is a good fit for your store. No one system is right for everyone, so a brief chat can help you avoid buying the wrong thing. A couple of quick notes:

  1. The features of the system are briefly mentioned on the E2V website. The full system documentation is also available here, so you can know exactly what’s involved with the system.
  2. Please read this overview page, especially if you’ve never used a scripted vendor system before!
  3. Please let me know what solution you’re currently using in your store. For example, “I’m just starting” or “I’m just using regular buy contents prims” or “I’m using system XYZ” or however you can describe your current setup. This helps me know how to best advise you in terms of conversion and setup!
  4. Please be a little patient. I will get back to you, it just might take me a day or so.

 

 

 

Rolling Restarts

For most regions the standard LL rolling restarts happen on Tuesday mornings (SLT), and on Wednesday for the remaining regions. Certain configurations of the E2V system can be affected by these restarts, and this article explains those situations.

Please see this article to be sure which version of the system you have, as it makes a big difference when it comes to rolling restarts!

To understand the impact rolling restarts can have on the E2V system in your store, it’s important to first understand how your store is (or can be) configured when it comes to product delivery. The list of rules is:

  • If your vendor is using 2.9 or earlier, product is always delivered from the Inventor Server as a box.
  • If your vendor is using 2.13 or later, you have the option of product being delivered as a box from the vendor itself, or as a box from the Inventory Server.
  • If your vendor is using any version 3 script, you have the 3 options. Product is either delivered from the vendor prim as a box, from the vendor prim as a folder, or from the Inventory Server as a box.

(“Box” in this context means a single object, which might be a box, or a bag, or a duck, or whatever.)

If your store is configured to deliver product from the Inventory Server, and your Inventory Server is not on the same region as your store, then it’s possible for product delivery to be affected by a rolling restart, as the Inventory Server basically ceases to exist while that region is being restarted.

With version 2, there’s only one way to avoid delivery problems during the time the Inventory Server’s region is being restarted, and that is to Take A Copy of the server, and rez it on the store region.

For version 3 users, you have more choices.

First, you can do nothing. This is because the Delivery Relay will queue up purchases while the server is unavailable, and will then process them once the server (i.e. region) comes back online.

Second, you also put a copy of the server on the store region.

Third, you can use a backup Inventory Server. The backup server would only be used during the time that the primary Inventory Server is unreachable. Soon after the primary server region comes back online, the Delivery Relay will automatically switch back to the primary server.

 

What version of the E2V system do I have?

As of this writing, there are two live, active versions of the E2V system in use. They are called “version 2” and “version 3.”

You can tell which version you have in two very simple ways:

  1. If your Inventory Server is white, you’re on version 2. If it’s black, you’re on version 3.
  2. If your vendor scripts are called “[E2V] Vendor 2.x” then you’re on version 2. If they’re called “[E2V-3] Vendor 3.x” then you’re on version 3. (Note that the “x” in both cases will actually be a number)

About Version Numbers

Version numbers in software operate a little differently than normal numbers. For example, you might think that version “2.9” is greater than version “2.16” if you view the numbers as traditional fractions. However, version numbers are typically presented in the format “major.minor” where 2.16 is a later version than 2.9, because the number “16” comes after the number “9.” In other words, don’t view them as decimals/fractions, view each number as a whole number, separated by a “.” character.

Admin Website URLS

If you’re on version 2, your admin site is located here: http://www.e2-designs.com/e2v/owners/

If you’re on version 3, your admin site is here:  http://www.e2-designs.com/e2v-3/owners/

There are a few things to note about these versions and sites:

  • All your sales data, whether you’re on 2 or 3, goes to the same place. if you upgrade to 3 from 2, you’re still accessing the same sales data.
  • Since both websites access the same sales data, many functions can be performed on either site. However, due to changes in version 3, some of the version 2 site’s functions will have no effect. Specifically, the store-wide sale feature, and anything having to do with split proceeds has moved in-world.