The Designer Showcase Network

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Readers may recall my periodic ramblings that tried to sort out revenue fluctuations. One theory suggested Grid-Wide Hunts suck up all the clients, implying you’d better get involved in the hunts if you want to stay in business. I’ve taken up that challenge in the past few months as an experiment by entering a series of Grid Hunts.

So far, I’ve found hunts definitely drive very significant traffic to your shop. Overwhelming traffic at times, and I can’t imagine the crowding at stores a lot smaller than mine (1/4 sim). But the question is, “do these visitors buy anything”? The answer is apparently not, at least at my store. Perhaps they don’t care for particle effects, or maybe they are simply cruising through the landmarks in a nearly endless effort to reach “the end”.

Some say “don’t worry – your gift includes your landmark, so they’ll come back later to visit your store!” Perhaps, but there is scant evidence of this in my statistics. Perhaps they are too busy doing the “next” hunt to worry about looking at the items from the previous hunt?

Another finding: on Plurk and Twitter, one now hears exhausted hunters dreading “the next hunt”. Yes, there certainly are those who enjoy hunts and are quite good at running them, but there seems to be hunt-burn out occurring too. I am not surprised, as there seems to be several gigantic simultaneous hunts underway each and every month.

As an example, I’m in the SL Discovery hunt this month, which features well over 500 stores strung together by a chain of landmarks hidden in tiny magnifying glasses. How long would it take to traverse that entire chain? For this 30-day hunt, it means you must visit on average 18-20 shops each and every day. How many gifts would you receive? Duh, over 500. How much time would it take to actually investigate those 500+ gifts? Probably over 40 hours at 5 minutes each. And that’s just one hunt for one month. What about the other five hunts also underway this month?

Hunts just don’t seem to scale up very well.

What’s the solution? Rika Watanabe came up with a very intriguing idea during a Plurk discussion several weeks ago. The notion is to automate the hunt process and relieve both the vendor and the hunter of the incredible effort required to setup and run through a grid-hunt.

Instead of actually visiting the participating stores, Rika’s brand new Designer Showcase Network merely asks that you “subscribe” to the service, specifying the type of products they’re interested in (a “channel”). Each day you’ll be gifted a random item from that channel’s many participating stores. The network tracks the gifts to ensure you don’t get any duplicates.

Designers simply purchase and set up a kiosk, and then place a box in it containing a gift and landmark. Hopefully the gifts are of high quality and attract the subscriber to the store. Subscribers can get gifts without having to spend massive amounts of their valuable time chasing through stores.

Of course, this isn’t for everyone. Some avatars hunt simply for the pleasure of finding the hidden objects - it is a treasure hunt, after all. But how many times can you do that?

And that’s it. No fuss. Free gifts. Choice. And exposure to new stores that you might have never heard of. And you can resume your normal activities. You know, the ones you did before hunts erupted?

If you want to find out more about the DSN, check out the website at CleverThings. It includes information for both hunters and vendors. Also, I’m one of the first vendors to set up a DSN Kiosk, why don’t you come by Electric Pixels and try it out?


Talia Tokugawa said...

I have to agree with you here.. I was in a few nearer the beginning of the year and I did do some checking on the metrics that I got for my 1/4 sim show a massive increase in traffic.. sales did increase a small amount during the time of the hunt and for a little while afterwards, but really wasn't worth the time I put into the freebie and making sure that everything worked. I have not taken part in one since.
One factor I did notice, putting in face time really helped. Having a person there to distract people from the neverending hunt it provides both a welcome distraction to their task and boosts your traffic a little.
But once again.. the time needed for this compared to the payback is not really worth it..

Unknown said...

The SL Discovery hunt is actually 2 months long in an attempt to allow people to complete the hunt successfully without rushing through.

While I do believe that possibly some hunt burn out is happening - this particlar hunt was a way of showcasing smaller stores - there are only a few larger stores in the entire hunt. The overall feedback from the hunt is very good - but a hunt this large will never be put on by the SL Discovery team again. Also, we're not forcing people to hunt :) Its for the pleasure of finding the gift and discovering the shops.

Personally, as a vendor, I love particpating in hunts - they give me an excuse to create something new and unique for the hunt with possibly a different theme than what I would normally create.

As a hunter, I love discoverying the shops and vendors with products that might not normally cross my path - and after all that is the overall agenda of SL Discovery - a group that was around before the hunt and will be around long after.

If someone is having hunt burn out - take a break :) There's time to hunt again when you're rested!

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