hippoVEND Getting Started Guide
Welcome to hippoVEND, a powerful yet easy-to-use vending system that enables you to easily sell your products at multiple locations throughout Second Life, yet only to have to store them at one central location. It has a number of special features:
- Web-based configuration and management, offering much more power and ease of use than a Second Life interface can provide.
- "Key free" server technology -- unlike some competing vendor systems, if a sim crashes, your server stays running afterwards. You can even take our servers into inventory and re-rez them, without breaking your network.
- Multiple, secure communication channels between vendors and servers, so products can get delivered to customers even if Second Life is being laggy.
- The ability to run backup servers, so if one fails to make a delivery, the backup can step in.
- Distributable "Catalogue Vendors" that you can copy and transfer to resellers who can sell your products on commission if you wish.
An Overview of Network Based Vending in Second Life
For those new to networked vending in Second Life, the basics of hippoVEND are as follows. For those who have come from a competing vendor system, e.g. JEVN or Apez, you can probably skip this part!
- A server is rezzed and your inventory items, pictures of items and information notecards are loaded onto it. These are used, on the website, to define "products".
- Vendors are rezzed at your selling locations which connect to the server and display pictures of your products. You can carefully filter which products appear in particular vendors if you wish.
- A customer clicks on a vendor for product information, or pays it to buy a product and the vendor contacts the server which makes the delivery.
- This means that you only have to update one location (your server) rather than rush around altering and keeping all your selling spots up to date.
... unlike most other vendor systems, most of this process can also be managed using a web browser, meaning you can stay in control even whilst not logged into Second Life. Unlike any other vendor systems, it's easy to use and doesn't require a PhD to understand how to work it.
Okay, I'm bored reading! Get me up and running now!
Here's the lightning fast guide to getting started with hippoVEND. Follow these simple steps to see how it works --- then explore the "Complete User Guide" at your leisure to find out in detail the more advanced aspects of the system.
Step One : Create a Website Account
If you're not a member of the Hippo Technologies website, rez and click the "HippoTech Website Registration Pass" that came in your hippoVEND carton to create an account and get a password (which you can change later to something more meaningful if you wish). You'll need this to log on to the part of the website (http://users.hippo-technologies.co.uk/) used to define products and manage your sales network. The password is given to you in chat (only you will hear it) so you can copy it from chat history if you wish.) Please note: if you later change your password, don't use your Second Life password -- always pick a new, unique password just for our website; that's much more secure.
Step Two: Prepare your Server and Inventory
- Rez a hippoVEND server somewhere fairly permanent.
Right-click the server and choose "Edit" (and then "More>>>" if the build dialog box is not fully expanded).
- Click on the tab in the build dialog box labelled "Contents" and double-click the notecard called "_config" to edit it.
- Give the server a name of your choice and a new password (this can be the same as your website password, or a different one; you'll never be asked for it again --- it simply protects communications between the vendors and the server). So, for example, SERVER NAME: Acme Industries Server and PASSWORD: verytopsecret.)
- Close the notecard and save it.
- Now drag from your own inventory to the server's contents list an object you wish to sell, a notecard describing that product (this is optional, although highly recommended) and a picture of the object for the vendor to show. Once that's done, close the build dialog window. Please note, only objects for which you have full permissions can be uploaded (the server doesn't care what permissions you've set for the next owner, e.g. the customer).
- *** IMPORTANT! Each item in your server should have a *unique* name (so don't call an object "Ticking Grandfather Clock" and a texture "ticking grandfather clock" in the same server --- in other words, the database of objects we use isn't case sensitive).
- Click on the server and choose "Reset" to reload the config card.
- Click the server again and choose "Go Online" to register it with the Hippo Technologies database.
- Click the server a third time and choose "Load Inv". The details of the inventory items you loaded will be uploaded to the website database ready for setting up; the server will whisper to you as it does so. Once it's finished, you're ready for the next step.
Step Three : Define Products
- Point your web browser to http://users.hippo-technologies.co.uk/ (or click the server and choose "Website").
- Login using your username and password. (*Never* use your main Second Life password for the Hippo Technologies website).
- Click on the hippoVEND icon. A screen will appear listing your server and, below that, the inventory within it that you uploaded.
- Click on the blue plus sign icon to the right of the object you uploaded to create a new product.
- Give the product a name and a description, pick a vendor texture from the drop down menu and an information notecard from the list of notecards. Enter a price for this product. For now, you can ignore all the other options except the final one --- tick "Product Active" and then click OK.
- The web browser will now display the list of available products to sell -- at the moment, just the one you've created. Well done, you've completed step three!
Step Four : Start Selling!
- Return to Second Life and rez a vendor; probably the best one to begin with is the single-panel vendor.
- If you’re using hippoVEND version 2, click the vendor and choose “Reset”.
- Grant it debit permissions; this is needed for refunds, if a customer pays a wrong amount, for example. (Vendors types 1.6.x and earlier will ask for debit permissions twice, the second time for the payment sharing script).
- Once it has finished loading its configuration notecard, click the vendor again and choose "Download". The vendor will shortly display your first product.
Well done! You've mastered the basics of how to use your new vending system. You can now go back to your server and add more inventory, then revisit the website to define more products. Remember the sequence:
- Add objects, pictures, notecards to the server
- Load inventory to the website
- Switch to your web browser and define products
- Update your vendors (you can do this from the "Vendors" section of the website, so you never need to visit the vendor in person). This last step is VERY IMPORTANT --- changes made on the website won't be reflected in vendors unless you update them. (You can update all your vendors with one mouse click on the website).
Once you're familiar and comfortable with these basic aspects of the system, check out the "Complete User Guide" for full details of the server, vendors and website. For example you can:
- Have vendors cycle automatically through products in a slideshow
- Set prices in US$ and have the vendor convert them live from the current Lindex price
- Share sales income with friends
- Categorise, tag and group products into ranges and carefully filter what products appear on individual vendors
- Run vendors in holovendor mode, so they can rez temporary models of the items they’re selling.
- Track your sales using online sales logs and export data to CSV for safekeeping
All this and more can be found in the "Complete User Guide".
Enjoy your new vending system!