hippoVEND Catalogue Vendors Guide
Please note that this document covers the Catalogue Vendors version 1.6 or later. If you’re using an older version, click here to view the documentation appropriate to it. And remember that free upgrades are always available at the main Hippo Store!
The hippoVEND Catalogue Vendors are a special type of vendor. They come with transfer permissions and are specifically designed to do allow you to some extremely useful things ...
- You can give out Catalogue Vendors to trusted customers to browse and purchase from in their own time, wherever they like, without having to visit one of your stores.
- You can pass them to trusted people who you'd like to allow to resell your products, in return for keeping whatever commission you choose to set.
Both are great ways to quickly increase your sales and are easy to do.
Due to the demands that the tens of thousands of catalogue vendors in circulation place on our network, we charge a small commission on catalogue sales (not on sales through regular vendors, of course). The commission is L$2 or 2.0% (whichever is greater) on any sale of L$5 or higher (1.5% or L$1 on older catalogue vendors). This is deducted before any other commission, splits, or shares that you have setup are calculated.
Here are some of the other features you'll find that Catalogue Vendors offer:
- An easy to use web browser based configuration screen to decide which products a particular vendor shows and what commission it offers
- Set expiry dates for particular groups of Catalogue Vendors (useful for running time-limited promotions, for example).
- Block particular people from rezzing a Catalogue Vendor if you wish (if you've had a bad experience with an affiliate, for example)
- Users can easily customize a Catalogue Vendor you give them (slideshow mode, hovertext etc.) using easy to understand menus.
So let's look at how all this works. This document is now divided into six sections; we suggest you read them all
- Getting Started Quickly
- Advanced Catalogue Profile Settings
- Tracking Sales from your Catalogue Vendors
- Advanced Vendor Settings using the _Config Notecard
- Other Vendor Tips and Tricks
- Important Security Information
1. Getting Started Quickly
To get going with your first Catalogue Vendor, simply follow these steps. Please note, we'll assume that you have already registered a hippoVEND server, loaded inventory into it and used that to define some products. If you haven't, then we suggest you begin with the various other hippoVEND resources that explain this.
- Log onto to the hippoVEND website. Once within hippoVEND, click the 'Catalogue Vendors' link, under the 'hippoVEND' banner, just before 'Sales Log'.
- This page lists all your Catalogue Vendor "Profiles". A profile has a name, a commission rate (the percentage of a sale you wish the owner of the vendor when you distribute it to keep), the ability to include up to three ranges and to filter by tag, product name and description if you wish. The list shows your profiles in pages to speed up loading time. If you have more profiles than can fit on one “page”, you will see the page navigator. It looks like this ...
The current page number is shown in bold white text. Click a page number to jump to that page or “...” to jump backward or forward five pages at a time. Clicking “First” takes you to page one, “Last” to the final page whilst “Prev” or ”Next” move you backwards or forwards one page at time. (If you wish to change how many items are shown on each page, you can do this via the preferences webpage).
- To create a new Catalogue Vendor Profile, type a name (e.g. "Gadgets Reseller") into the space provided (after "Create a new Catalogue Vendor Profile named ...") and click the 'OK' button.
- The new profile will appear in the list above. You can now edit its commission percentage, it's status (active or inactive and an expiry date) --- along with those of any other profiles if you wish. When you're finished, click the 'Save Changes' button.
- For more advanced catalogue vendor settings, click the spanner icon. You can specify what should go in it (filter by range, tag or category), whether it should share sales income (tip: if you do, communicate this clearly to the people you give it out to!) For more detail on each setting in a profile, see section 2 below.
Once you've setup a profile, you're almost there. Return to Second Life and ...
- Rez a new Catalogue Vendor. It will ask you for the name of the Catalogue Vendor Profile to connect to. Type the name you used in step (c) above. (Don't worry about doing this in open chat; even if another person overheard you, only you can set up a vendor to connect to your own products.
- If all is well, the vendor will connect to that profile and download and show the first product. If you made a mistake and an error was reported, click the vendor and choose 'Go Online' to try again.
- You can now take this vendor into inventory and distribute it to customers or affiliates. Every time they rez it, it will remember it's Catalogue Vendor Profile name and reconnect automatically. (If a customer or affiliate forcibly resets the whole device, they'll need to rez or contact you for a fresh copy, as only you can "bake" the Catalogue Vendor Profile into it like this.
IMPORTANT NOTE #1 ... If you change or delete (via the red X button) a Catalogue Vendor Profile (or change any products it is selling) then anybody you've given vendors too that use it will eventually lose their ability to sell your products (Catalogue Vendors check every few days that that their settings are up to date and double-check them every time a sale is made, so profile changes for vendors out inworld will ripple through the Second Life Grid very quickly). In short, you don't need to worry about updating Catalogue Vendors, they are designed to run remotely.
IMPORTANT NOTE #2 ... Catalogue Vendors will not refund a customer when a delivery fails; this is because the commission will already have been deducted and the remainder of the funds sent to you. Customers will be asked to request a redelivery if for some reason the server fails to make a delivery (if, for example, you have set it offline).
IMPORTANT NOTE #3 ... If a stale monetary transaction occurs (that’s when, due to Second Life performance issues, L$ transfers fail) there is a risk that the balance (the price less commission) may not make it’s way to you from the catalogue owner. We recommend choosing resellers you can trust, making life much easier in event of any problems or questions. You can set a number of conditions in a catalogue vendor’s profile to determine who can rez one (e.g. age, payment status etc.) to help you with reseller management, if you wish.
AND SOME USEFUL TIPS ...
- TIP 1 -> If you wish to unlock *your own* Catalogue Vendor and choose a new profile, click it and choose 'Unlock' from the menu.
- TIP 2 -> We STRONGLY recommend setting a Catalogue Vendor's permissions to "no modify" before distribution. You can, of course, leave it copyable and transferable if you wish people to spread your vendors around. If you'd prefer to pick-your-own-affiliates, then make it non-transfer before distribution. You can also ban specific people from rezzing and selling via a particular profile; this is described in section (2) below.
- TIP 3 -> People will not get commission if they buy from their *own* Catalogue Vendor; this is designed to stop people grabbing your vendors just to get a discount. (Yes, they could use an alt, but we can at least make it trickier for them!)
- TIP 4 -> We'd advise telling your affiliates what to expect when sales are made; e.g. a share to you, a 1.5% commission to us ... and what to do if there is a delivery problem (contact you). The more information you provide your affiliate sellers with, the easier they'll find it to sell your items! Communicate clearly to your affiliates and they'll be keener to work harder selling items for you!
- TIP 5 -> Catalogue Vendors don't appear in your list of vendors on the hippoVEND website, but sales from them do appear in your sales log (with a little "C" icon next to them; hold your mouse pointer over the icon to see the name of the affiliate who sold the item).
- TIP 6 -> If using version 2 (or higher) catalogue vendors, you can easily customize the notecard given to your resellers if they click a catalogue vendor and choose the “Help” button. Catalogue vendors will give out the first notecard alphabetically they find in their inventory (obviously they won’t give their configuration notecard!) so you can easily delete the default notecard we ship them to you with and replace it with a notecard specific to you and your business.
- Tip 7 -> You can click a catalogue vendor owned by a reseller if it’s selling your products to get a menu. That has options to get its status, turn it online (or offline) and, if you wish, to delete it.
That's the end of the Getting Started section; well done -- you’re now ready to distribute your vendor. At this stage, we recommend two things: first, *test* the vendor (click the Catalogue Vendor and choose 'Reset' to load the '_config' settings and connect); second, rename the Catalogue Vendor to something meaningful and take it into inventory ready to distribute.
2. Advanced Catalogue Profile Settings
This part of the user guide describes, briefly, each setting you can define when configuring a Catalogue Vendor profile on the hippoVEND website.
- Catalogue Profile Name
- Used to identify this particular profile. You'll need to type it in chat (exactly as you set it here) when rezzing a new catalogue vendor. Once a vendor has connected, it will remember its profile name and can be taken into inventory and distributed to people.
- Commission Rate
- Defines what percentage of each sale (after the 1.5% commission to Hippo Technologies) will be kept by the owner of the catalogue vendor.
- Owner Sales
- If you wish, you can tick the new "Ban Owner From Purchasing From Their Own Vendor" option when defining a catalogue profile on our website; v2.6 (or higher) catalogue vendors will then not allow their owners (e.g. the person rezzing them) to buy from them. Useful if you wish to encourage people to be selling to others not simply themselves.
- Product Name Filter
- You can enter text here to have the profile show only products whose name contains this text (e.g. "shirt"). Note that the list of catalogue profiles on the main catalogue page will show how many products each profile includes, based upon filters like this one.
- Product Description Filter
- As above, but looks for the text you supply in a product's description.
- Include Ranges
- You can specify up to three product ranges (see elsewhere in the hippoVEND documentation for what ranges are and how to use them) to include in a catalogue vendor.
- Filter by Category
- If you're using categories to organise your products, you may filter by category. Note that filters are additive: so if you pick a category here and a range in (e) above, only products in the range with this category set will be shown by vendors connected to this profile.
- Filter by Tag
- Enter any text that products must have in their tag field to be included in this profile.
- Income Sharing
- You can instruct that a vendor connected to this profile shares sales (after commissions) with friends or colleagues if you wish. To do this, create a group (click the Groups icon in the left sidebar on the webpage if you need to create/manage one) then pick it from here. Or you can choose to have the vendor follow any sharing you've set up at a range or product level. Or, third (and the default setting) you can tell vendors using this profile to do no income sharing at all.
- There are numerous ways you can have vendors connected to a profile sort their products. Pick the one that suits your needs.
- Profile Accessibility
- If you wish, you can ban members of a particular group you've defined, or who don't have payment information on file with Linden Labs, or who are under a certain age, from rezzing and using catalogue vendors connected to a particular profile. You can also prevent a catalogue vendor with a particular profile from being rezzed on specific sims if you wish. Just add some key words to the new “Disallow vendor use on sims whose name contains” field under the “Profile Accessibility” part of the catalogue profile configuration web page. (If you wish to add more than one filter, separate them with commas; e.g. "great,island" would prevent a vendor with this profile being rezzed in "Great Britain" as well as "The Island of Split Infinitives" for example.)
- Status and Date Limit
- Finally, you can specify whether this profile is active or not --- or, if you wish, set a date limit after which no catalogue vendor will be able to connect to it.
3. Tracking Sales from your Catalogue Vendors
You will have observed that Catalogue Vendors don't appear in your list of vendors on the hippoVEND website (due to the thousands that can end up in circulation, if you work hard, the list would be very unwieldy). However, sales from them do appear in your Sales Log and record the L$ you earnt after commissions. You'll also notice that sales have a icon after the vendor location in your sales log, to indicate it was a catalogue sale. Simply hover your mouse pointer over the icon and you'll get a tooltip that tells you who the owner of the Catalogue Vendor was.
4. Advanced Vendor Settings using the _Config Notecard
If you right-click a Catalogue Vendor, edit it and examine its contents, you'll see a notecard called '_config'. This allows you to control and configure some advanced vendor functions that certain merchants may find useful. To change a setting, edit the value after the word in capital letters, save the '_config' notecard, then reset the vendor. You may want to edit the permissions on the notecard so that your resellers can't fiddle with it, although there are no secure options in here, just settings that effect the way that the vendor behaves.
Each setting is now described for you, along with details of where you can read more about that function.
SIDE PANELS: <number>
e.g. SIDE PANELS: 6
- Tells the vendor how many side panels this model has. If you're an advanced builder/tinkerer and want to construct your own vendor designs, you may want to tweak this setting.
DISPLAY FACE: <number or list separated by commas>
e.g. DISPLAY FACE: 2
- Tells the vendor which face of the main prim should display product pictures. For more information on changing this setting, see this document.
SIDE PANEL DISPLAY FACE: <face>
e.g. SIDE PANEL DISPLAY FACE: 2
- As above, but configures which face of the side panel prims get used for product pictures.
PRELOAD FACES: <face1, face 2> ((Version 2.6 or higher vendors only))
e.g. PRELOAD FACES: 0, 1
- Vendors can “preload” textures, making browsing through products easier for customers if the sim (or network connection) is a bit slow. You can use the new PRELOAD FACES: <face1, face2> command in the vendor’s “_config” notecard (new vendors have it in their cards by default) ... e.g. PRELOAD FACES: 0, 1 ... this determines the faces used on the side panels to do the preloading. You can either supply one face number (e.g. PRELOAD FACES: 2) in which case the vendor will preload the next set of products onto those faces (ready for the customer hitting the ‘next’ arrow) ... or two faces, in which case the second face specified will load the previous set of products, in case the customer hits the ‘previous’ arrow). All sounds horribly complex? Simply leave the “_config” notecard as it is and let the vendor work its magic.
TRY TO AVOID BLANK PANELS: <Yes/No>
e.g. TRY TO AVOID BLANK PANELS: No
- Vendors can, if you wish, try to avoid "blank" panels at the end of collections of products in multi-panel vendors. For more details, see http://www.hippo-technologies.co.uk/resources/hippovend/intelli_fill.php
HOLOVENDOR MODE: <Yes/No>
e.g. HOLOVENDOR MODE: No
- Vendors can operate in "holovendor" mode if you wish. For details on this and the other settings related (HOLOVENDOR REZ OFFSET, SLIDESHOW MODE DISABLES MODELS and MODELS MAY BE IN LOCAL SERVER) see http://www.hippo-technologies.co.uk/resources/hippovend/holovending.php
LOOK FOR DEMOS: <Yes/No>
e.g. LOOK FOR DEMOS: No
- Vendors can, if you wish, give out demos of products (or play demonstration sounds/animation previews). To find out more about this (and the related PREVIEW ANIMATION LENGTH command) see http://www.hippo-technologies.co.uk/resources/hippovend/demo_giving.php
AUTO HIDE ARROW BUTTONS: <Yes/No>
e.g. AUTO HIDE ARROW BUTTONS: Yes
- if you set this to “Yes”, then the vendor will only display its arrow buttons when needed e.g. when there are more products to show than panels available.
ARROWS MOVE BY: <value>
e.g. ARROWS MOVE BY: -1
- An advanced setting that determines how the arrow buttons behave. See this document for more information.
ARROW PREVIEW MODE: <Yes/No>
e.g. ARROW PREVIEW MODE: No
- An advanced setting that enables the construction of vendors where the “arrows” preview the product they’ll cause the vendor to show. See this document for more information.
HIDE ALL HOVERTEXT: <Yes/No>
e.g. HIDE ALL HOVERTEXT: No
- If set to “Yes”, then when the catalogue vendor is rezzed or reset, floating hovertext will be locked off (and can’t be turned on via the options menu, either; allowing you to ship catalogue vendors to your resellers with the hovertext permanently off).
DEFAULT HOVERTEXT MODE: <On/Off/Auto> (Version 2.5 and higher only)
e.g. DEFAULT HOVERTEXT MODE: Auto
- Specifies which hovertext mode a catalogue vendor will run in when it’s first rezzed and turned online (off = no hovertext; on = hovertext on; auto = hovertext appears for 15 seconds when the vendor is touched.)
DEFAULT SLIDESHOW MODE: <Off/On/Show First> (Version 2.7 and higher only)
e.g. DEFAULT SLIDE MODE: Off
Specifies the default slideshow mode the vendor will run in. (The owner can, of course, use the Options menu to change this if they wish).
5. Other Vendor Tips and Tricks
- Textures ...You can customise the texture a vendor uses on its main display when offline, simply by replacing the “offline” texture found in its contents. (On version 2.5 or higher vendors, you can also replace (or add) a texture called “blank panel texture” to the vendor’s contents and this will be used on side panels when there is no product to show in them.)
6. Important Security Information
When you pass out catalogue vendors to people to resell your products, security is important. Second Life has numerous weaknesses and flaws from ‘CopyBot’ to various L$ hacks, from hacked Second Life clients to old Second Life bugs that have never been fixed. In short, it’s recommended that you ...
- Don’t sell transferable products through catalogue vendors.
- Use the age and payment-info controls to restrict the type of person who can use your catalogue vendors (people with payment-info-on-file are usually more reliable and trustworthy).
- Use resellers that you know and trust to some extent, rather than scatter your vendors like confetti to the four-winds.
Used carefully and wisely, catalogue vendors can be a great bonus to your business!
We hope you enjoy your new product --- do take the time to explore all it can do.