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LONG essay on sales and vendors

Discussion in 'UO Trader's Hall' started by Guest, Mar 4, 2000.

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  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    So, you want to make a few gold pieces as an alchemist. My name is Nabrin and I am a Grandmaster Alchemist as well as a Grandmaster Assassin on the shard of Catskills. I am going to outline several ideas for the sale of your wares and your eventual path to riches as a merchant. If you are looking for fame and karma, best to read a different dissertation. You will not find how to get it within this paper. If you are looking for blood and violence, head down into the nearest dungeon and do not read any more of this treatise. You will find little excitement in the selling of potions, but you may find yourself far richer than most people.

    You will find that the notoriety and reputation of your name will be the most important factor in any thing that you do. If your customers see you as someone who cannot be trusted, you might as well set your mortars on the shelf and pick up a blade to earn your keep. You will find that you will not make as much money if everyone thinks that you are a con artist and a sham. You will have two reputations…the one that is given to you by your clients and customers…and one given to you by Lord British. The first is the most important…and the second is a preference. I wear the mark of a poisoner proudly – my reputation is Unsavory and will remain that way as long as Lord British decrees that my trade will lower ones karma. I have never killed so much as a rat, and because of the laws of the land, I will maintain my low reputation and wear it as a badge of my profession. My customers have looked past the definition of unsavory and have found the real Nabrin to be honest and fair. This brings them back to buy my wares time and again.

    Since this is a paper on how to make money…I will let you in on my techniques. A brief history of my progression as a merchant – I started out as the guild alchemist. I found a guild that was willing to “sponsor” me…in exchange for the gold I needed for reagents, I would give them free poisons and potions. It was a simple and effective arrangement. I did not have the necessary seed money that every beginning alchemist needs, and so I used the guild to provide it for me. I eventually was able to begin making bank sales for a profit and it did not take long for the money to become available for me to open a small shop on the isle of Occlo. I now have 8 vendors in 2 locations that I oversee, and almost a half dozen others that various friends have and stock within the walls of my shop. I have the ability to easily bring in 15-50k in PROFITS a night, and that is without ever facing any of the denizens that walk the dungeons of Sosaria or risking my life or limb.

    My shop is located on the distant shore of Occlo Isle and is not very accessible to the average wanderer. Most of my customers are not the wandering type; they come to my shop because I have personally handed them a rune to it, or they have heard from word of mouth that it is there. This foundation of clients is laid in the first phase of an alchemist’s career…the person to person sale. The relationship that you build during this phase will keep your clients coming back time and time again; even when you raise prices.


    There are 2 methods as a merchant alchemist to make gold. The first is person to person (PtP) sales and the second is to run your own shop. Most begin with the PtP sales and progress to managing vendors as they gain clients and customers who spend enough gold for the alchemist to buy his own shop. Once you have a shop and vendors to stock and manage, you will find that your time for PtP sales will greatly diminish and then you will have to find a balance and determine which you like better.

    Person to Person Sales

    The first step in the PtP sale is the location of the sale. You could in theory sell your wares at the bottom of Despise or standing in a tunnel to the New Lands but those are not ideal locations. You are far from your stock of supplies and vulnerable to attack. The best location is arguably the banks that dot the towns of the land and this is where I made the majority of my beginning sales. You have easy access to your bank account and now with unlimited weight you can have 8 potion kegs, 8 stacks of reagents with a stack of bottles and you are set.

    Location

    The number of people that pass you is directly proportional to the amount of money that you will make. Also, which bank you choose will also factor into the income for the evening. If you choose the West Britain Bank, you will find more newbies, and therefore less gold due to their limited ability to buy your wares. If you choose the East Bank in Britain, you will get more per potion and possibly more sales due to the fact that there is a slightly richer clientele in the area. The problems with a richer area are that the people may already have established a relationship with another alchemist or have a shop that they frequent. You will need to find the area that is right for you.

    I chose the Main West Britain Bank because I found a choice spot at its corner that I like, and the Papua Bank is my second choice because of the mass of minor magical items that can be found lying discarded on the floor. This will vary from shard to shard so do some research and planning and then some experimentation to see where the best spot for you is located.

    Presentation

    The next factor in selling is your presentation. “GH for 35 gps” is the favorite macro around the banks and it annoys me to no end. That is the characteristic speech of a mule alchemist and it does our profession no justice. I will make more money on any given night than the mule that spouts that line and this is how you can too. Do some thing creative with your macros. I stand at the SE corner outside of the Bank and yell my advertisements. I do it there because the spam carries over the bank and doesn’t interfere with most other player conversations.

    I will let you in on my set. They do change from time to time, but they always revolve around the same system. I set up macros along one set of keys...(F1-F12)...(` though (backspace)) etc. This allows me to just hit them in succession and never miss a beat. Tailor your set to whatever customers you think are in the area. People like to think that you are talking directly to them. For instance, if you see Chaos in control of the area…make a macro directed specifically at them. If you hear someone planning a dungeon crawl…whip out a set of dungeon macros. There is only one thing to remember…BE CREATIVE. With the new macro system, you can have different macros for each character set so now there is no need to have different macro files for each character.

    Nabrins Macro Set

    I am a GM (or your skill level here – be honest) Alchemist who can make any potion you need.

    GREATER HEALS for sale to heal the blows that your foes deliver. Don’t leave the bank without a few of these as backups.

    GREATER CURES to cure the nausea of a Poison Elemental that is after you.

    Ask me about the NEW GREATER STRENGTH potions.
    *+20 to your strength could turn the battle for you*

    They have also improved the GREATER DEXTERITY potions. *Have you ever wished you could swing faster?*

    Do you hunt man instead of beasts? *I know, I know...you only hunt bunnies*

    You will fare better with one of my DEADLY POISONED blades.

    Do you prefer the ORDER vs. CHAOS wars in town?

    MY DEADLY POISON will bring your foe to their knees.

    If you don't use my DEADLY POISON BLADE, you better hope that they doesn't either.

    You could be in for a very short fight either way...

    A DEALY POISON made by a GM Alchemist, applied by a GM Assassin on a GM crafted blade. Can you think of a better combination?

    The Poisoners skill level WILL determine how long your blades poison remains effective. Don’t think that cheaper is better.

    I have the DPs in bottles and can apply them, or you can buy pre-poisoned blades.

    You will find GM Tailored items in my shop. Perfect for the times you want to show off your wardrobe to your friends.

    GM Dex Suits and GM crafted colored plate suits are all the rage. Why not stop by my shop where you will find the suit that fits your budget?

    Individual Recall Runes are available to all cities and dungeons on my rune vendor. There are also rune books available there that are empty or prefilled.

    Looking for the hard to find spell scroll? You can find an assortment of scrolls to fill your spell book at a decent price in my shop.

    I have everything from Ruin to Vanquishing blades on my vendor. Silver and DPd you name the combination…it is probably there. Stop by and take a look.

    Been shopping for reagents and came away empty handed? My reagent vendors may charge more than the shop, but they have sufficient quantities to get you back to adventuring with minimal running around.

    Just ask for a rune to Nabrin’s Alchemy and Poisoning Shoppe. This shop has everything that an adventurer needs.


    **Ask me about my DEADLY POISONING deals.

    **STEP right up to the DEADLY POISONING deal of a lifetime.

    **If my skill goes up while DPing your blade...the job is FREE.

    **If it doesn’t, it is only 400 gps for the service.

    **Just think, your next DEADLY POISONED blade could be FREE!!!

    The last ** lines are for my poisoning business. Once I was a master in poisoning, I offered that deal to anyone that wanted it. As you can see, it is a good deal if they manage to advance my skill level. Many did and remain faithful clients to this day. I was always honest with my skill gain, and I was VERY happy to give it away for free. Of the hundreds of blades that I DPd like that, only once did someone refuse to pay and so I kept his blade until he did. As long as the customers know the deal in advance, I would feel no remorse over his loss of the blade. He attempted to spam my business away when I would not return it, but was quickly overcome by the masses who knew my speech and had partaken of my deals and who proceeded to out talk and out macro him with words of praise to my honesty. When he realized he was not going to persuade anyone that I was dishonest, he relinquished the gold and I gave him his blade. Honesty does pay. My clients know that I will not take the Katana of Vanquishing or whatever they give me...one guy wanted to make an 80k gold transfer using me...he received his money...that is how I keep my customers and make them into steady clients.

    Pricing and Bartering

    KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) works the best for pricing. In my formative years, I set my price at 50 gps for all of my potions save DP and NS and if they asked I would drop the price to 45 gps if they purchased in quantity. A client who knows that you charge the same amount for every potion will normally just fork over the gold without asking for a break. A standard price means some potion types will be better moneymakers than others will but the profit will all be in your pocket in the end. If you are at a bank with wealthier patrons, you might consider raising your prices a little.

    I am a big advocate of bartering when you are making a sale.. I would trade potions for empty bottles, always giving them 5gps per returned bottle. That saves me trips to the store and it recycles. Trading potions for equal amounts of reagents will also save that walk for a restock. NEVER pay more that the minimum price that the shops would sell to you. This maximizes your profit. With the advent of kegs and the loss of alchemy spam, you will not have any problem storing large quantities of potions and reagents and grinding while you stand at the bank. Your only danger will be lack of productivity when your clients stop by to chat.

    There will come a time when someone will ask you to make the potion for them if they supply the reagents and bottles. I did this for 20 gps per potion and did not care if they wanted a DP or a NS. Occasionally I would just do it for free. It’s up to you to set the style of your character and how generous he is. Run a sale or discount some potions from time to time as advertising for your business and you will find that people remember you over the next guy down the block.

    That is the basic rules for selling person to person. I chose the RP aspect of the game, and profited tremendously from it. Less than half of my customers RP, but they straightened up their d3Wd talk around me and I hope I convinced some of them that everyone that RPs is not necessarily weird. I do sell to anyone who has the gold, red or blue or gray, his or her color doesn’t matter. I know that I have reds who are on the most wanted list that visit me under other names, but to me…gold is gold, bloody or not.

    Vendoring

    Now for the inevitable sequel to the PtP sale…The Shopping Mall…If you think that alchemy and person to person sales is addicting, just wait until you place your first vendor. This will come sometime in the middle of your PtP sales and soon you will be handing out runes to your vendor when someone makes a purchase. The key to making sales is giving out runes to your shop.

    There are 3 things that are needed for a vendor to be successful. Restocking,’ Presentation and Location.

    Location

    I know everyone preaches LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION but I know for a fact that my shop is not located very well and yet I will sell out daily of most of the staples inside of it. Location is important, high traffic means high volume which translates into high sales and that means high profit. But if you are not in a good location, it is easily overcome by handing out runes to the vendor.

    Get a mage friend to mark about 50 runes to the front of your shop. There should be NO doubt these are to your shop. Mark them in the square directly in front of the porch and label each rune. I will hand out these runes for free to anyone that is interested and I will also hand them out to those that make a purchase. This is the easiest way to overcome the location problem. However, if you do manage to purchase a shop next to the PvP crossroads areas that are around you will find that you can make a serious killing (no pun intended). Shops near dungeon entrances are great for traffic and also those near shrines to a lesser degree.

    Restocking

    Restocking is the most important factor in my opinion. Restocking is where the first impression comes into play. When I visit a shop the first time, and I open a vendor that is not stocked, it will rarely get another look from me…ever. For this reason, you need to frequently check your vendors supply when you are actively handing out runes. Give a guy a rune to an empty vendor and you have just given him a free rune to mark over. Give a guy a rune to a stocked vendor, and you have made a sale, perhaps not now...but he will remember that your vendor was stocked when he’s in need.

    When I find a shop I like, and for some reason later in the week the vendor is not stocked, I will return to purchase something at a later time – so remember, that first impression is important. Restock as often as you can, once or 2 times daily if possible or at least do it on a regular schedule. Books on vendors are a good way of telling the customer when you will be restocking.

    Presentation

    Presentation – this one is my pet peeve. I absolutely HATE opening a vendor and seeing plain bags or plain boxes or a jumble of unorganized stuff. You will not get a second glance if you don’t make the first one count. Only a bargain hunter will search through that jumble of motley items and most sales are not made to them. Sales are made to the customer who comes in looking for a specific item, and can find it immediately. For this reason you should have an order to your vendors and if possible some identifying mark in front of the vendors. Lock down a reagent or a bottle in front of the potion and reagent vendors; a scroll in front of the scribe and a weapon in front of the armor/weapons vendor.

    The exterior is not the only important visual aid for sales. The interior of a vendor should look neat and organized. Use bags or boxes to separate items into categories. I don’t recommend going anymore than a bag within a bag…it gets too tedious after that. You should color code all multiple potion bags as well as placing a sample item outside of a bag that has individual items for sale inside of it. Use those dye tubs. That way the customer knows exactly where to go without playing the “shell game” with the containers on the vendor.

    Vendor Setup

    I spent many days looking at other players’ vendors to find the setups that I liked the best. Just make it neat and you are farther ahead than most merchants. Look around at your neighbors and find the layouts that catch your eye and they will probably work well for you also. Layout is all a matter of taste, but it does increase the likelihood of a sale if you have a good one.

    The most important vendors are the porch vendors. Simply stand on the steps of the porch and use the deed and you will have an instant eye catcher. These can be accessed by people that are running by your shop and if they see what they consider to be a good vendor, they will stop and look farther and perhaps even enter the shop to look at others that are inside. The farther back in the shop the vendors are, the less likely it is that they will make a sale. You have two options here…place your best ones in the back, forcing your customers to pass the others in hopes that they will browse your non-staples vendors or placing your best vendors in the front and hope that the customers will enter the shop and look at the others because of the great layout you have. The problem with the former is that you risk that the casual shopper will not see the items that he is looking for easily and will give up on your shop. The problem with the latter is that you will get customers who find what they need immediately and will not browse farther – and then they will not buy that Katana of Vanquishing that you are hoping will sell. It is a matter of preference though on which you finally select.


    Prior to placing each item on the vendor you will need to determine what price to assign it. This is best done by keeping a log of all the prices of a particular item that you have seen on your journeys. I made a simple chart that allowed me to record the prices of various shops I wandered into while on my daily strolls. Here is how I set my prices. Find the nice average price of all the vendors in the neighborhood. Then find the highest…and add 15 %. TRUST ME…you will still sell out. EVERYONE has gold now in UO. When they realize that your vendors are stocked regularly, they won’t mind paying 10 gps extra per potion. The people you gave runes to at the bank will know they will get a deal in person, and they will hardly care that they are getting a worse deal at the shop. All they will remember is that you gave them that 5 gp per potion break at the bank.

    Nabrin’s Alchemy and Poisoning Shoppe Layout

    My potion vendor resides on my porch step and is the highest profile vendor. Keeping the porch vendors stocked should be one of the top priorities.

    Left column:
    1 bag of 10 GA (550)- 5 single GA (60 each)
    1 bag of 10 GS (550)- 5 single GS (60)
    1 bag if 10 TR (550)- 5 single TR (60)
    3 DP potions (300 each - only for show- but they still sell)

    Right Column:
    4 Nightsight (20 each)
    3 bags of 10 GH (600) - 5 single GH (65)
    1 bag of 10 GC (550) - 5 single GC (60)
    1 bag of 10 GE (600) - 5 single GE (65)

    I will sell out everything as often as I stock with the exception of the DPs, which take about a week to sell even at their high price. They are mainly for show anyway but it is prudent to stock all types of potions. The more often you stock, the more money you will make.

    My money machine (also a porch vendor):

    All weapons are GM Crafted and GM DPd with the label "DPd (GM)" on each blade. I also put a book and 2 DPs on her as a way to show messages as well as a sprinkling of nightshade…the key ingredient of a poison potion. Simply label the potions with a high price and the wording of the message you want to leave. It used to be my current skill but now it is whatever message I want on them (i.e. what is on sale). When my skill was not GM, I added the skill level I DPd an item at to each blade. (For example, DPd (98.7 skill) Each bag has a sample of the blade that is inside directly under the bag so they know what is inside. The sample is also DPd (GM – or skill #) but costs 2k. They have to be desperate or rich...or both. And sometimes I wonder...I find my display blades gone occasionally, and no one has touched what is inside the bag.

    Bag 1: 900 each - 20 Katanas
    Bag 2: 900 gps/item - 6 Kryss, 2 Long Spears, 2 Short Spears, 4 Warforks.
    Bag 3: 900 gps/item - 1 Viking Sword, 1 Bard, 1 Double Axe, 1 Long Sword, 1 Large Bat Axe, 1 Scimitar
    bag 4: 900 gps/item - 7 Halberds

    I sell all the Kats and Hallies Daily, including the samples, and most of the fencing weapons. The others are more for show. I will sell them out over a week’s time. Remember that appearance is EVERYTHING. I meticulously line up both my potions and my blades. Sometimes my wife says that is a bit overkill, but again…I like an orderly vendor and my arrangements reflect it. My prices could still be raised by 100 gps to an even 1k per blade. When I first started off, I had the kats and kryss at 800 gps and have raised prices when I hit a significant skill milestone – like when I hit GM.


    Bulk potion vendors will sell out daily. I don’t do the keg thing because I believe most people already have their kegs and are just looking for stuff to put in them.

    3 bags of 15 GH @ 900 a pop
    2 bags of 15 GC @ 750 a pop
    1 bag of 15 GE at 900 a pop
    1 bag of 15 TR at 750 a pop
    (Or whatever other potion is the rave at the time)

    4 Singles of GC and GH at 60/65 each
    3 sets of 15 bandages @90 each

    My magic weapons vendor (a quick note – Papua bank is a great place to get free magic blades – a ruin weapon with DP on it will sell for 1500 gps, and they lie on the floor of the bank in Papua like the very boards the floor is made of)

    1 Bag of each level of magic weapon all DPd and in perfect repair.

    Silver: Add 500gps to the base price of the blade or weapon
    No label: 1k
    Ruin: 1500
    Might: 2500
    Force: 5k
    Power: 10k+
    Vanq: 25-50k+

    And, yes my prices are steep but they sell...Find the price that is right for your clients. If its hasn’t sold in a week, lower the price a bit.

    I also have recently opened another vendor that sells reagents. I have 8 bags on him and a single reagent next to each bag as display. Inside the customer will find 4 stacks of 100 of each reagent. This vendor has slowly begun to pick up on sales. To keep him you have to have a good system of getting reagents. I sell each one for 6-10 gps depending on availability and type. I am considering raising prices on the weekends since they sell out so quickly. This vendor has the potential to become quite profitable if you can master the system of buying reagents.

    Another addition was made recently of rune sets and recall scrolls. I buy the recall scrolls from other players paying around 40 each and sell them for 600 gps for a set of 10 recall scrolls. The rune sets come in 3 types – City, Dungeon Entrances, and New Lands Hot Spots. That is pretty much self-explanatory. I have placed each type in a rune book with the maximum number of charges and sell the books for 5k each. I sell the individual runes for 200 gps each and have 3 of each single rune available on the vendor.

    I have several other vendors…GM Smith items I purchase from the smiths around in bulk and stock them with a 100% markup. I try to make my shop one stop shopping for everyone that is an adventurer. It may be slightly more expensive to buy your dex suit from my shop, but you can pay the extra 1k and not have to worry about recalling around looking for suits. I recently turned over running of this vendor to a GM smith friend but the fact remains that it is very easy to get a good deal in person from a smith at the forge and then to stock your vendor. Believe it or not, Nabrin does have a GM smith on his account, I just don’t have the fun with him that I have with Nabrin and I rarely play with him.

    My wife stocks her vendor with GM tailored items and so that adds another high quality vendor to the shop. With GM crafted leather items and a black dye tub, she is cranking out special orders for weddings and those that like the high quality armor that skill allows you to meditate. She doesn’t have to stock this one as often…but when you advertise GM tailored items, you will find that no one knows where to get them and they will flock to your shop for them.

    Those are my main vendors. I have several small secondary vendors that are just spin-offs or duplicates of the main types. As your business grows you will find that you can tailor your shop to what the clients want. I receive feedback in a book that is locked down in the shop for anyone to comment in. I respond to each comment written inside and I have gotten good feedback on some things. As your clients get richer, you will too. Your shop will grow and soon you will have too many vendors and not enough time. It takes about 2 hours to do a good restock of the vendors right now.

    One last thing, read the essays to the left. That is how I started. Some of the tips I probably read there, others I did myself. There are many people out there willing to share info with upcoming alchemists…if you don’t know, just ask.

    I hope this helps those of you that are thinking of the trade of poisoner and alchemist. I am addicted to it and I warn you that you will become too.


    Nabrin
    Mage Tower Conclave, COR
    GM Alchemist, GM Assassin, GM Merchant
     
  2. Batir

    Batir Guest

    One of the best written guides I’ve seen for setting up vendors in general, not to mention the alchy info.


    <font color=blue>Batir
    Guildmaster of Grandmaster Merchants on Sonoma</font color=blue>
     
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