by: Ilya Vedrashko

Dwellget (located on the Taco sim) is a Second Life store with some of the most realistic layout and merchandising. There is a strong apparent reference to the real-world Target. Just as in real life, it is important to lay out your store in a way that enhances customer experience and maximizes profits. One added dimension to merchandising in SL is the issue of usability, since an SL store combines the visual metaphors of a RL brick store with the mechanics of online shopping. Here are some of the constraints that can inhibit the shopping experience:

1. I have yet to visit a SL store that provides a good list of the entire range of products for the task-oriented shopper. Home Depoz (pictures later) and some other stores have an interactive bulletin board that teleports customers to the departments of interest, but the customer still needs to go from one product display to another to get an at-a-glance overview of the product range. Dwellget uses signboards placed above the aisles, but the products are placed on shelves that face each other. One possible solution to the problem could be placing embedding product lists into the floor textures so that customers can fly over them to see what's available.

2. Many stores are laid out on two or more floors connected by flights of stairs, often placed near walls. Stairs in SL are such a pain - poor avatar movement abilities, ackward camera control - that some house builders avoid stairs altogether and replace them by flat boards.

3. Stacking up product displays saves footprint space and takes advantage of avatars' ability to fly, but when the goods are stacked all the way up to the ceiling, the avatar that flies up would often bump his head and the camera view would be thrown through the roof outside and require a manual adjustment.

4. There is no reason for having doors in SL stores since theft is technologically impossible anyway and the doors stay open 24/7 anyway. There's even less reason for a large store to have only one door. There is very little non-aesthetic excuse for having non-transparent walls or ceilings that mess up camera view either. Dwellget here has a non-transparent perimeter and only one door.

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