Direct Delivery (DD) – the mechanism that will replace Magic Boxes for merchants using the SL Marketplace and which should bring improvements to the overall delivery of items purchased on the Marketplace – is in open beta for people to try on the Beta (Aditi) grid.
Direct Delivery has been subject to many ups and down over the last twelve months, but this beta should bring it a step closer to reality. Given LL’s overall track record on the delivery of new Marketplace services, this is something that has merchants understandably nervous and concerned.
Documentation relating to the new system has also been updated, including the release notes and a set of getting started instructions – both of which are worth a read, although the latter are somewhat irritating (see below), and will be rationalised and clarified prior to DD going live.
For those (merchants especially – although it would seem those curious as to how purchasing goods using the new system can also have a bit of a go) wishing to try-out the system:
- You’ll need to have the Direct Delivery Project Viewer (version 22.214.171.124349/dated 10th Jan or later), complete with its funky blur-tinted UI elements (new to this Project Viewer, or sign of another change coming to the UI?)
- You’ll need to have an active account on Aditi and should log into that first if you’ve not done so in a while (indeed, you might want to change your password as per the linked instructions & force an account update if you haven’t)
- You’ll need to be able to log-in to the Aditi Marketplace (this may throw up a security certificate warning, depending upon your web browser settings).
For those simply curious as to how they’ll be affected when purchasing goods, it’s very straightforward:
- When logged into the Beta Marketplace, simply purchase any item commencing with “DD”.
- Open your Inventory panel and click on the RECEIVED ITEMS tab at the bottom of the Inventory panel to expand it – and your purchased items should be in a folder, ready to be moved into the location of your choice in your Inventory.
Note: Items purchased on the Beta grid will only be available in your Beta grid inventory and purchasing them will not impact your Main grid L$ account balance. If your Beta grid account does not have a L$ balance, you can raise a support ticket. Funds cannot be transferred between the Beta and Main grids.
Testing Uploads (Merchants)
Items using Direct Delivery no longer need to be boxed-up – part of the idea being that people receiving goods will no longer need to rez a package in-world and unpack it (although if you wish to box items still (and some of the limitations of the system actually mean you may still need to), you can.). Nor do they require a Magic Box; instead they use a new addition to the Viewer – the Merchant Outbox – to upload goods to the Marketplace.
You can organise your items either in your inventory itself, or within the new Merchant Outbox panel (located in the ME menu on the Project Viewer) prior to uploading. Of the two options, the former is probably the preferred, given that anything organised solely in the Merchant Outbox will vanish as soon as it has been uploaded.
The basic steps are:
- Open your Inventory and the Merchant Outbox (ME->MERCHANT OUTBOX).
- Drag the items from your Inventory panel to the Merchant Outbox panel.
- If required, organise items by folders in the Merchant Outbox (individual items dropped into the Merchant Outbox will automatically be placed in their own folders).
- Click the SEND TO MARKETPLACE button.
- You should get an on-screen confirmation when all items have been sent.
- Log into your Marketplace account on ADITI.
- When logged into the Marketplace:
- Click on My Marketplace (top right) and select MERCHANT HOME.
- On the MERCHANT HOME page, click on MANAGE LISTINGS on the left (or click on INVENTORY at the top and then select MANAGE LISTINGS from the drop-down).
- Your listings are displayed, with unassociated items at the top.
- Use the ACTIONS option to the right of each item to create a new Marketplace listing in the usual way.
Obviously, multiple items can be uploaded via the Merchant Outbox, I’m using a single item purely for demo purposes.
The tests themselves are easy to carry out. What is irritating is the lack of attention paid to the “getting started” instructions. Vis:
- The instructions wibble on about downloading a Magic Box (this is testing Direct Delivery, right?) – a Magic box isn’t required for a basic test of the DD functions – either when purchasing goods or uploading them
- They direct you to place the Magic box at one of two locations on the Beta grid – one of which is – or was during my testing – (wait for it) NO REZ (virtuatrade Campus S).
If mention of Magic Boxes is included for those who wish to carry out more involved testing (such as comparing what happens on uploading, how the system handles / differentiates items uploaded via either mechanism, etc.), then this should really be made clear in the instructions. Also, and as a minor quibble, why isn’t the Magic Box itself set-up as a DD item? That would kill two birds with one stone (get a Magic Box for more involved testing and test the receipt of DD items in a single pass).
There is also an error in the Selling in the Marketplace instructions which might lead some to get a little confused. These direct people to their MERCHANT HOME page, and then to click on MANAGE INVENTORY, when in actual fact the required link is MANAGE LISTINGS, which is located under the INVENTORY heading.
I’m not entirely sure why this level of testing is now required, as it all seems very basic. But then, I wasn’t involved in the closed beta testing and I haven’t been keeping up with discussions on DD via the Merchant’s forum. As it stands – and leaving aside the inevitable amount of work required to shunt stuff from Magic boxes to the DD system, this process seems straightforward and easy to understand for merchants and consumers alike (“getting started” instructions for the Beta notwithstanding).
My tests here are, of course, pretty basic. It’ll be worth keeping an eye on the Merchants’ forum and the Beta thread to see if any major issues come out of the beta process, as well taking a read through the documentation listed below.