Direct Delivery (DD), the means by which items purchased via SL Marketplace (and which in theory should make Magic Boxes as used by merchants a thing of the past eventually) took a step closer with the arrival of code on the Le Tigre release channel.
This does not necessarily signify that the new service is about to go live. It may signify that Linden Lab are pushing the code out for the purposes of production-side beta testing or perhaps for compatibility testing. News on the move is rather scarce. Brooke Linden promised to clarify the roll-out on the 4th October (when the code initially reached Le Tigre), but nothing further has been forthcoming from the Commerce Team.
New Delivery System
For those not in the know, Direct Delivery is intended to massively improve the way in which customers receive good purchased through SL Marketplace, and how merchants manage their SL Marketplace inventory locally. The beta for the system was originally announced back in April, although at the time the call was light on specifics.
So, in a very brief summary, for those purchasing items through the Marketplace it broadly means:
- Recipients will no longer need to accept delivery of an object in order for the item to be successfully delivered in-world. Items will be delivered whether the recipient in in-world or offline, and a notification of arrival sent
- Rolling restarts will not result in failed deliveries
- Purchased items should be received in a new system folder, probably to be called “Incoming Items”, with purchases delivered to their own folder (or folder hierarchy) within this system folder
- Failed deliveries as a result of multiple purchases through the Marketplace should cease.
For Merchants, the new system broadly means:
- No requirement to use Magic Boxes (although support for Magic Boxes will continue for an unspecified period after DD has rolled-out)
- No requirement to box items (although boxed items will continue to be supported)
- Local management of inventory handled through a new system folder, probably to be called “Outgoing Items”. Items placed in this folder will be automatically retrieved and copied to the Merchant’s Marketplace inventory ready for listing (no copy items will be flagged as such and then moved to the SLM inventory once the merchant has OK’d the move)
Other aspects of the new system include:
- To prevent over-inflation of local inventories as a result of large numbers of items being delivered into folder from the Marketplace, the number of objects a merchant can place in a folder will be limited. If a merchant is selling a large number of items in a single listing, they will be required to box objects within their folder hierarchy
- The system will allow merchants to indicate to purchasers whether an item will be delivered boxed or unboxed
- Merchants will no longer need to keep adding one unit to no copy item listings whenever one unit sells
- Gifting and limited-quantity items will continue to be supported by DD.
There is also an API for the marketplace that is being developed with should also provide merchants with additional capabilities within the Marketplace. As well as Direct Delivery, work is ongoing to improve inventory services in general, including faster and more reliable inventory loading within the Viewer.
Overall, if implemented properly, these changes should benefit everyone.
However, it is fair to say that Linden Lab have not exactly covered themselves in glory when making massive changes to the Marketplace environment, as many of those involved in the switch-over from SL Exchange to SL Marketplace will testify. More recently, the Commerce team caused considerable consternation when making changes to the Marketplace.
Ergo, people are understandably nervous around the implementation of DD as a whole, the benefits it will bring notwithstanding. A number of merchants have already requested (via the Commerce Forum) than any formal roll-out of the new system be delayed until after the New Year, so that merchants face minimal disruption in the run-up to, and through, the busy Christmas period.