In August 2013, I covered the opening of the Kitely Marketplace, having previously reported on its development in January 2013 when it was first announce, and again in May 2013, when it opened to merchants.
In developing the Marketplace, the Kitely team of Ilan Tochner and Oren Horvitz always had the goal of making it possible for merchants to not only sell into Kitely itself, but also into other hypergrid-enabled grids, using a special Export permission flag which can be set by merchants. At the start of March 2014, they took a major step towards this with the opening of the Market Hypergrid Delivery Beta Test.
On March 21st, Kitely announced that the Kitely Market Hypergrid Delivery is now open to all.
The blog post provides guidelines and instructions on using Kitely Market to purchase goods from the Kitely Market for delivery to hypergrid-enabled destinations, and I don’t propose to repeat things here. By default, the Market offers delivery to the top five (by use) hypergrid capable grids of Craft, GermanGrid, Littlefield, Metropolis, and OSgrid, and more are promised should they prove popular among purchasers. I also understand that delivery to other grids supporting hyerpgrid can be manually configured using the Market’s built-in Grid Manager – all that is needed is the grid’s loginURI.
Items specifically set for delivery to other grids by their creator can be located using the Export option on the Permissions search filter (lower left corner of the each Market page).
Alongside of the hypergrid delivery capability, Kitely have enhanced their merchant tools to assist with the new capability, as the blog post explains:
We’ve made it easy for merchants to test that their products work correctly in other grids. It has always been possible to use the “Test delivery” link in the Edit Product page in order to deliver the product to the merchant’s avatar in Kitely. This feature has now been extended to deliver to other grids as well. The way this works is that you go to the Shopping Cart page, and select a grid and an avatar. You don’t actually have to buy anything; just enter that information. Then return to the Edit Product page, and click “Test delivery”. The product will be delivered to the “foreign” avatar that was selected in the Shopping Cart instead of to your Kitely avatar.
Another feature for merchants is that in the Sales History, merchants can see which grid each sale was delivered to, because foreign avatars appear along with their grid: e.g., “Jane Vespa @ OSGrid”.
Also, sales reports themselves can now be downloaded as a CSV file, providing improved historical context for merchants as they track sales long-term.
Implementing hypergrid delivery in the Kitely Market is innovative and interesting. Many creators in walled garden grids avoid OpenSim out of fear of content ripping – not that content ripping isn’t a problem in walled garden grids, either. Some OpenSim grids (like Kitely) proactively take steps to reduce the risk inherent in “easy” content ripping (such as by limiting OAR exports to those items created by the exporter themselves). Even so, the fear is there, so it will be interesting to see how many take advantage of the opportunity to sell into multiple environments from a single point. Certainly, the option has been seen as attractive enough to well-known SL creator Lilith Heart of Heart Botanicals fame, who has already opened a store on Kitely Market.
It will also be interesting to see how this new capability within Kitely Market affects the overall OpenSim economy. On the positive side, it means that merchants wishing to extend their reach into new markets (grids) can do so from a single, powerful point, and Kitely’s own pricing structure makes it fairly competitive for them to do so, including the use of the free access Kitely Merchant Sandbox, if required. Through it, merchants can reach multiple channels and also have a good degree of control over where and how their products are used (with some obvious caveats). For those used to only dealing with one market – such as SL – this could open the door to building channels to markets outside of the walled garden environments, such as those grids with a specific focus / purpose, such as education or business.
The downside to this is the it might make it that much harder for smaller grids to attract content creators directly, and thus users – who tend to look for the content first. Grids may well also lose out on opportunities to lease virtual land to merchants, as they’ll potentially have little need for in-world stores. However, it’s fair to say that Kitely Market could actually help grids attract users: if it is seen that a grid actively embraces the Kitely Market and its growing numbers of merchants, then the could leverage that fact in attracting new users, as the lack of visible in-world merchants is negated by the ability for merchants to reach the grid via the Kitely Market, particularly if said grids also take steps to ring-fence what can be exported via the likes of OAR files.
New Logo and OpenSim Core Group Invitation
Alongside the Hypergrid Delivery launch, Kitely unveiled their new logo (seen in thumbnail at the top left of this article), and have included a few notes on making it easier for people to get started on Kitely included the blog post.
And in a modest footnote to the piece, Oren Hurvitz, Kitely’s co-founder, reveals that he has been invited to join the OpenSim Core Group of developers. The invitation is in recognition of Oren’s ongoing contributions to OpenSim on behalf of Kitely, and is very well deserved; my congratulations to him.