On Saturday May 11th 2013, Kitely announced they are opening their new Market to merchants so that the latter can start to build their stores.
The move comes five months after Kitely first announced they would be developing the Market (see my report from January 2013), and marks a further significant step forward in Kitely’s plans to establish a web-based marketplace which will initially allow merchants to sell products to other Kitely users, but which it is hoped will eventual be available to users across multiple grids.
The Market will combine features familiar to those used to using the SL Marketplace or markets such as the (now defunct) Apez and Metaverse Exchange: items can be browsed on-line, then purchased (using Kitely Credits (KCs) or US dollars), prior to being delivered directly to the purchaser’s in-world inventory in a similar manner to SL’s Direct Delivery mechanism. Additionally, the Market will function more like e-commerce sites such as Amazon, where items can be searched for using attributes as well as a category hierarchy, making the search process and drill-down easier and more flexible for both merchants and consumers.
The Market is accessed via a new shopping cart button which appears on the main toolbar which is displayed when users are logged-in to Kitely. Once the Market is fully open, the button will allow users to start browsing stores and goods. However, until then, the button will display an introductory message which explains that access to the Market is currently limited to merchants wishing to create a store.
The blog post provides detailed instructions to merchants on creating their store, using the store home page, and managing, editing and modifying products and listings. Additionally, Kitely are also providing on-line documentation for the Market, which provides information on important aspects of the Market such as product pricing options and listing guidelines.
The Market also enables merchants to include multiple variations of a product within a single listing. So rather than having 5 individual listings for an outfit which is available in 5 different colours, a merchant will be able to create a single listing for the outfit, which includes the 5 different colours. The merchant will also be able to define individual prices, permissions and search attributes against each variation, if required.
One item which merchants will not initially be able to sell through the Market is OAR files.
“You can’t sell OAR files directly,” Ilan Tochner, Kitely’s CEO said, “but you’ll eventually be able to sell entire Virtual Worlds so instead of just having the two virtual world templates we offer you now when you create a new world, you’ll be able to find and buy the perfect virtual world for the activity you have in mind. Once you buy that world a new world will be automatically created inside the My Worlds page in your account, at which point you’ll be able to export it to an OAR file.”
An important element within the Market is Kitely’s new “Export” permissions flag, which is separate to the familiar modify / copy / transfer permissions associated with a product, and allows a merchant to specify whether or not a purchased item can leave the grid. This means, for example, that if a user buys an OAR file for a Kitely world and attempts to save it to their hard drive, only those elements of the OAR file which have the Export flag set will actually be saved – anything which does not have the flag set will be ignored.
Currency Options and Fees
Products in the Market can be sold using either Kitely Credits (KCs), Kitely’s own non-exchangeable virtual currency, or using US dollars (USD), where payments are handled directly via PayPal.
“KCs can be used in-world and for paying Kitely for the services it provides but they are non-exchangeable and cannot be traded or redeemed for real money in Kitely or anywhere else,” Ilan said. “However, if a merchant so chooses, they can disable the option for a product or product variation to be purchased using KCs, a useful option for merchants who have more KCs than they need.
“This solution enables the great majority of people to more easily cover their [tier] costs in Kitely by selling items in Kitely Credits. At the same time, it provides immediate liquidity to merchants, enabling them to sell virtual goods for real money with the ease with which they can sell real-world goods on-line.”
When KCs are used, there are number of additional points of note:
- Payments in KCs, less Kitely’s 10% sales commission, are deposited directly into the merchant’s Kitely account following a purchase
- Prices in KCs can be set between 10 and 200,000 KC
- KCs can be used to sell low-cost items. 10 KC is roughly equivalent to $0.03, and thus allows merchants to avoid a $1.00 USD minimum price requirement (see below)
- If a user does not have enough KCs on their Kitely account when making a purchase, the checkout process will automatically allow them to purchase additional KCs via their PayPal account.
Similarly, the use of USD has a number of additional points to note:
- Payments in USD, less Kitely’s 10% sales commission and the PayPal transaction fee, are immediately deposited into the merchant’s PayPal account following a purchase
- The Marketplace will not allow any item to be priced at less than $1.00. This is because merchants have to pay PayPal a standard transaction fee, which can take up a disproportionate fraction of the sale price if the price is set very low
- The maximum USD price for any individual item is $1,000
- A $0.30 Checkout Fee is added to the buyer’s shopping cart if it includes any products that are purchased using USD. This charge is added to cover Kitely’s PayPal processing fees
- Merchants wishing to sell their goods in-world for USD can do so by scripting their vendor(s) to send the buyer to the appropriate Kitely Market product page.
Kitely do not charge for uploading content in-world, and also provide a 4-region Merchant Sandbox to further assist merchants in bringing content in-world. Merchants will be charged 100 KCs for listing an original item on the marketplace, and 25 KCs for each variation of an item.
The Kitely documentation website provides a full breakdown of all Kitely Market fees and pricing requirements.
Kitely’s Limited-time Promotion
From now until the Market opens to buyers, Kitely are running a limited-time promotion to encourage merchants to add their products so that they’ll be ready when Kitely open the Market to buyers. The promotion includes the following benefits:
- Merchants can add up to 20 products to their store free-of-charge (no listing fees payable)
- If the first 20 product listings adhere to Kitely’s product listing guidelines, the merchant may request to be allowed to add an unlimited number of products to their store for free. The link to make this request appears once a merchant has added 20 products to their store
- If a merchant creates at least 100 product listings that adhere to Kitely’s product listing guidelines then the merchant will be considered for Featured Merchant status. Featured Merchants will be featured for free on the Kitely Market homepage, and will get free in-world shops in the official Kitely Plaza
- Featured Merchant benefits will last for an entire year after the market opens for business.