While running through various blogs, I came across an interesting post from Lelani Carver about an emerging on-line alternative to the SL Marketplace.
Primbay.com is operated by the folks at CasperTech, whom many may be familiar with through their in-world CasperVend dropbox and vending system.
Note that the marketplace is in its nascent development, but SL merchants using the CasperVend system are already able to use it, and CasperTech appear to have some significant plans for the future.
A Quick Overview
The Merchant’s Perspective
The first thing to note about PrimBay.com is that in order to be able to sell through it, you must use a dropbox from one of the CasperVend systems. These essentially come in two flavours: the free system, which charges a 5% commission on all sales, and the Premium system, which costs L$1,995, but which is commission free on direct sales and charges only 2% commission on affiliate sales (note there are other CasperVend package options, and the two mentioned represent only the core needs for PrimBay).
Those who already use the CasperVend system are essentially good-to-go with PrimBay, and will find their items already listed.
For those who don’t currently use CasperVend and would like an overview, Casper Warden has produced a short video on getting the system set-up. While it doesn’t cover PrimBay, it gives you sufficient information to get a feel for things.
With the arrival of PrimBay, the CasperVend website has been updated so that anything listed through it can be automatically listed on PrimBay. All that is required is to set the desired options within the product listing itself. If, for any reason, a merchant does not wish to have items listed on PrimBay, they can disable the automatic listing function from the Overview section of their CasperVend web page.
Individual items are listed through the PrimBay section (displayed with a blue background) in the main listing page for the item on the merchant’s CasperVend pages. The options here define whether or not the item is to be additionally listed on PrimBay, whether or not it is Adult in nature and to define the search categories under which it is to appear.
Note that there are no listing fees associated with PrimBay, and that when modifying listings, changes may take up to an hour before they are reflected on the PrimBay website. If you intend to sell adult content, please note the guidelines, available from the Adult Content link on the PrimBay home page.
The Customer’s Perspective
To use PrimBay as a consumer / customer, and assuming you are not already using CasperVend as a merchant, you need to register a CasperVend account. This is done via a number of in-world terminals. Note that if you want to be able to access Adult content on PrimBay, you must register an account and then go to a terminal on Adult-rated land and verify yourself (you can of course register and verify at a terminal on Adult-rated land).
Once you have registered an account, you’ll be asked to verify it via an e-mail sent to you as a part of the account registration process. Also, note that in order to buy anything through PrimBay, you must deposit L$ into your CasperVend account. When this is done, you’re ready to log-in and go shopping!
Using PrimBay is currently a little like using Google search. Once logged-in, you are presented with a search page in which to get started. If you prefer, you can click on the Browse Categories link and start from there.
The website is currently fast and responsive, and while there are no merchant stores at present, you can use the search to try finding merchants / brands by name. The categories are perhaps a little on the broad side, but should again help with finding things.
If you’re after Adult stuff, make sure you click the check box alongside the search option on the top of displayed pages.
Purchasing is very similar to the SL Marketplace. You can Buy Now or Add to Cart. Check-out is swift, and a confirmation is sent both in-world and to your e-mail address.
General Points to Remember
This is very much a first pass for CasperVend in offering an alternative to the SL Marketplace. As such, the PrimBay website lacks familiar functionality at present, such as the ability to create stores, have banner ads, etc. However, as noted in the PrimBay wiki page, these are in the pipeline and will be coming in time.
While the wiki page refers to various payment options are available, it would appear only L$ payments are currently supported.
The website itself is not the most eye-catching of designs – but again, plans are in-hand to address this in the future. CasperVend additionally list the following as some of their future goals with PrimBay:
- A special edition of CasperVend designed for PrimBay-only merchants
- Custom image uploads – merchants will be able to upload new images to their products instead of using the SL texture.
- Auctions – PrimBay has been designed with auctions in mind, which will be implemented at a future date
- Quantities – Quantities are not currently displayed on listings, but again, will be added.
Selling Into Other Grids
While PrimBay is currently available only for selling goods into Second Life, a potential major aspect of the website will be the ability for Merchants to sell into other grids where they have a presence. This is again a future capability for the system, one which matches CasperVend itself being available for use on grids other than Second Life. Currently, it appears from the PrimBay documentation that Avination has already been identified as a grid into which merchants will have the option of selling into, if they wish.
In order to make use of this capability once launched, merchants will need to have a CasperVend dropbox rezzed in each of the grids supported by PrimBay into which they wish to sell. Because dropboxes are required in each grid a merchant opts to sell into, the system will not allow cross-purchasing of products against a merchant’s wishes. So, for example, a user from grid X will not be able to visit PrimBay and purchase goods for delivery to that grid unless the merchant(s) from whom they are buying the goods have opted to sell into grid X.
There have been a number of alternatives to the SL Marketplace over the years. The two biggest – XStreet and OnRez – were famously bought-out by Linden Lab. Others have tended to have very mixed fortunes. Slap.Me got off to a very good start and enjoyed good support until real life intervened for those running it. Metaverse Exchange also seemed popular among those who tried it, and offers sales into other grids for merchants, but never really appeared to gain traction among consumers prior to it vanishing without warning.
CasperVend does have a good track-record in terms of vending systems, and it would appear that a good amount of effort is being directed into the development of PrimBay. Lelani herself reports that the support team appears to be quick to respond to requests from merchants. Certainly, as a start-up effort, particularly one with a reasonable road map of development available for public perusal, PrimBay would certainly appear to be an option for those merchants already with a CasperVend account and vendors to try-out.
For those who don’t currently use CasperVend but are curious to test the waters, the free version of the CaperVend vendor pack would seem to offer a low-risk way for them to do so. Setting-up a drop-box in-world doesn’t take that long, and the 5% commission is no different to that charged by LL. Note that you don’t have to have any in-world vendors to use PrimBay, although you may want to rez one to simplify getting to your merchant pages and setting-up new listings. Once you’ve done so, the vendor can be deleted.
Having tried the system myself, I can honestly say, set-up is a breeze. Just keep in mind that PrimBay is an evolving marketplace in terms of features and capabilities. I’ll be endeavouring to follow developments.