Time Travelling with RDS

May 6, 2012 by
Filed under: DGP4SL Info, New Products, SL Marketplace 

The past few weeks have seen some pretty dramatic changes in the functionality provided by RDS. What started out to be just a plain old “send another copy to…” system has rapidly morphed into a virtual Swiss-Army knife of functions and reports for Merchants selling on the SL Marketplace. Until today’s release, the advantages that RDS added to a Merchant’s toolbox were strictly limited to sales made after they subscribed. But now? Now, we can go into the past.

Getting Past Orders

Since the day the doors first opened on the SL Marketplace, it’s been collecting sales data on everything sold and delivered. For those Merchants with a heavy daily sales volume, the amount of data saved must be massive. For most of us, “big … ish” might be a better description. But now all that data is finally going to come to good use. Now that data can be imported into RDS.

Two Downloads – One Set of Data

The “Orders” report (under the Reports menu from the Merchant Dashboard) includes two links that are used to download your Sales Orders and Transactions data in “CSV” format. CSV, which stands for “Comma Separated Values” is a format understood by almost every spreadsheet and database out there, but why would you want to download all that data if you then have to spend a few hours dissecting and cross-combobulating it? What makes it even worse is that each of the files you can download contains just one data field short of full information. Well, actually they are missing more than just one, but most of the rest of the data can be found on the internet somewhere, so it’s not crucial that it be included in the downloads. However it is rather inefficient to have to download two data files (with most of the data duplicated in each one) just to get the full details! *SIGH*

Anyway, you download the two files after first setting the date range you want to download, clicking “Go” (because otherwise SL Marketplace won’t change what dates it wants to give you) then download each file one at a time.

The Date Range selector is on the left and looks like this:

And the download links are on the right and look like this:

Put Away Your Spreadsheet Program

You won’t need it … not if you’re using RDS. That’s because RDS can import both of those files for you then populate its internal database of your sales with the data from the CSV files. The RDS Merchant Menu now includes a new function called “Import CSV”. Wanna guess what it does?

Dang, you’ve been reading ahead, haven’t you? Well all you need to do is download both files (saving them to a location you can rapidly find) then select them using the “Choose File” buttons on the Import CSV page. RDS will import both files, chew them thoroughly then give you the results of its chewing.

Issues You’ll Run Into

Part of the information missing from both CSV files are the Avatar Keys for the Buyer, the Recipient and the Merchant. The Merchant Key is easily found .. that’s your key, But the Buyer and Recipient may be a bit trickier. RDS does have a few external databases that it will search if it can’t find the keys in its own local database (which happens for new customers), but it still takes a human to find some of the ones that are needed to completely fill out each Order and Transaction.

RDS will do its level best to help you at every step, including a tool that lets you find the Avatar Key even when it’s not found in anyone’s database anywhere. (It does require a bit of tom-foolery, but RDS automates and guides you through the process step by step.)

What You Gain By Importing

If you just started selling on the Marketplace and you sign up for RDS on the same day then you won’t have to worry about any previous sales. But if you’ve been selling for a while and you have a lot of Sales Records you’d like to get into a USABLE format, you can use RDS to import those sales records then reformat them based on the four “Data Views” that RDS provides: Sales, Orders, Customers and Products.

Because RDS lets you limit the data reported based on dates, product names, customer names and a couple other criteria, it will make it almost a walk in the park to finally get a useful overview of your business activity. Toss in the graphs, the printing and the exporting to Excel format and you’ve suddenly got a back-end filter that lets you really get a grip on your sales.

And isn’t that what we’ve all been asking for since they first opened the doors on the SL Marketplace?

Getting Your Copy of RDS

The iGlom RDS is sold on a subscription basis. The starter package which includes a one-month subscription and everything you need to get started is priced at L$200 from the Marketplace. The full range of RDS Subscription Packages is found on the SL Marketplace here.

Visit the DGP4SL Store on SL Marketplace


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