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AuctionBytes Blog
Covering auctions, collectibles and marketplace selling.

AuctionBytes Blog The AuctionBytes Blog has been giving a voice to online merchants since its launch in 2005. Named one of the world's top 30 blogs in 2008 by "Blogging Heroes." Weigh in with your thoughts on the joys and pitfalls of selling online.
Tue May 1 2012 16:52:09

What Lessons Can Be Learned from RubyPlaza's Closing?

By: Julia Wilkinson
Sponsored Link
With its announcement of the impending Dec. 2012 closing of its recent offshoot marketplace RubyPlaza.com, RubyLane conceded that despite the initial excitement of the site, the traffic was just not there to sustain it. Ruby Plaza was designed to attract buyers and sellers of new items, as opposed to the strictly vintage and collectible items on RubyLane.com.

According to this Ruby Lane blog post, traffic and sales on the site just never reached "an acceptable level."  And the decision to make the site free to sell on through December 31, 2012, did not help enough.

"Despite our marketing efforts and site improvements, the traffic and sales activity on Ruby Plaza have not improved significantly. Therefore, we have made the tough decision to shut down the site permanently on December 31, 2012," read the blog post.

On the RubyPlaza Facbook page, sellers expressed sadness and also some frustration that there was not more marketing of the site.

RP Seller Wanda Bostick Little wrote, "I do believe that RP had great potential, had it been promoted and marketed more aggressively. Of course, I realize it's the seller's business to bring traffic to her shop, but there are also ways in which the venue itself can draw traffic." She also said she thought RubyPlaza could have benefited from courting sellers who left Artfire, and also could look to drawing in Etsy sellers.

Another seller said her sales on RubyLane remained strong, while one who sold Faberge-style eggs on RubyPlaza (which had not been allowed on RubyLane) said her "association with the Ruby venues will come to an end."

Do you think RubyLane could have done more to make RubyPlaza viable, or is this just another case that shows how difficult it is for a new online marketplace to attract shoppers? And if it is this difficult for a marketplace, does this show how difficult it is for a small seller opening their own marketplace?

What are your thoughts? Post a comment here!



Comments (14) | Permalink
Readers Comments

What  Lessons Can Be Learned from RubyPlaza's Closing?   What Lessons Can Be Learned from RubyPlaza's Closing?
This user has validated their user name. by: Tula
       
Tue May 1 18:59:11 2012
It's all about the marketing. With so many options out there competing for customer dollars, a site has to be visible to shoppers and ranked high enough in search engines to get some attention.
What  Lessons Can Be Learned from RubyPlaza's Closing?   What Lessons Can Be Learned from RubyPlaza's Closing?
This user has validated their user name. by: Spartacus
       
Tue May 1 20:17:56 2012
I don't know why on earth they would splinter their site into two?

Ruby Lane has a beautiful design, well programmed but they just don't have the traffic.

RubyLane.com's Alexa ranking is around 15,000 and their Compete ranking is around 3000. RubyPlaza is much lower.

I operate several websites/forums getting more traffic than these two e-commerce sites. Tells me they're doing something wrong in the marketing department. Bonanza and Etsy suffer from the same lack of strategic marketing.

ONE well placed television ad by any of these companies would kick the sites into gear but obviously the operators are not willing to spend the money to advertise.

Precisely the reason I don't waste my time with those venues.

What  Lessons Can Be Learned from RubyPlaza's Closing?   What Lessons Can Be Learned from RubyPlaza's Closing?
by: Damariscotta This user has validated their user name.
       
Tue May 1 20:52:48 2012
I have sold on Ruby Lane for years now, and now rarely list on eBay. I think the Ruby Plaza problem was that there was just no need for another venue for new items. Ruby Lane has a good competitive advantage over eBay for antiques/collectibles, etc. due to the way they restrict categories, and crowd source the policing of the site.
What  Lessons Can Be Learned from RubyPlaza's Closing?   What Lessons Can Be Learned from RubyPlaza's Closing?
by: lonestar This user has validated their user name.
       
Tue May 1 21:45:15 2012
I knew about Ruby Lane but not about Ruby Plaza.  It is all about marketing and most of the alternative sites to eBay don't seem to understand it.  If not for reading this blog I wouldn't know about most of the selling sites.  Seems to me the site owners expect individual sellers to do a whole lot of advertising on their own and that isn't working out too well.
What  Lessons Can Be Learned from RubyPlaza's Closing?   What Lessons Can Be Learned from RubyPlaza's Closing?
by: gensvariety This user has validated their user name.
       
Tue May 1 22:01:14 2012
@Spartacus, I don't know a whole lot about Ruby Lane or Ruby Plaza however regarding Etsy I'm not sure why you feel the traffic there is low. They have traffic and there are sales. The other thing they have is marketing and plenty of publicity, not to mention plenty of plugs from television shows such as the Nate Berkus show (and he isn't the only one who plugs Etsy!). I've never heard any of them plug Ruby Lane or Ruby Plaza. I'll stick with Etsy and of course the other E.
What  Lessons Can Be Learned from RubyPlaza's Closing?   What Lessons Can Be Learned from RubyPlaza's Closing?
by: SedonaJoel This user has validated their user name.
       Web Site
Tue May 1 22:56:58 2012
I have sold on Ruby Lane for 3 years and Ruby Plaza since it began and now rarely list my antique items on eBay. I was never quite sure why anyone needed a ''Ruby Plaza'' - if the owners of Ruby Lane wanted an ability for members to sell newer merchandise they could just open a new products lane on Ruby Lane.

Overall I could not be happier with the professional way Ruby Lane is run - and with my results.  I have sold almost 2000 items on the site in less than 3 years.  
What  Lessons Can Be Learned from RubyPlaza's Closing?   What Lessons Can Be Learned from RubyPlaza's Closing?
This user has validated their user name. by: elpereles
       
Tue May 1 23:31:01 2012
After reading for years PSU and AuctionBytes. Right now, anyone that compares Bonnanzle with Etsy need to sit down and read a lot more. Maybe you confuse Etsy with eBid.

I don't sell in any Ruby Lane page, but contrary to other sites. The RL administration have my respect because nobody in this business as far I remember accepted that they close a site becuase they don't make enough traffic.
What  Lessons Can Be Learned from RubyPlaza's Closing?   What Lessons Can Be Learned from RubyPlaza's Closing?
by: TrailingAlong This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed May 2 02:01:30 2012
I actually think that the sister site Ruby Lane was used way too often in association with Ruby Plaza, on the Ruby Plaza site that is.

It was confusing to have a site where the instructions all said Ruby Lane or even on the site itself like for example, under the Piazza for the Press Coverage link.

Question I would ask myself, where am I....Ruby Lane or Ruby Plaza.

I also think that for sellers who were not Ruby Lane business owners but instead Ruby Plaza business owners that it was unfair to limit them to 4 photos per listing where as Ruby Lane owners could have at least 10 photos.

The categories needed a lot of work.

Having a blurb on the invoice after the buyer makes the purchase that literally tells the buyer to wait for the seller to adjust the invoice before checking out is confusing to buyers if a seller already has it set up for the buyer to be able to automatically checkout. I had emailed in about this once to the suggestions department. This can cause buyers to abandon their purchase even though they've clicked on buy it now. Some buyers do not like to wait.

Here is an example of what I am referring to "Thank you for shopping at Ruby Plaza. Your purchase information appears below. The shop owner, not Ruby Plaza, will contact you shortly to confirm this Order, explain any Shipping/Handling, Insurance or Sales Tax, and to make payment arrangements."

Even though Ruby Plaza made changes there were plenty of more changes to be made before giving up. If the site it not right yet, then even all the advertising in the world is not going to help like it needs to.

I am glad I have a place to come to and talk about this. I have been very bummed since I found out. Ruby Plaza had so much potential. I liked how they made their sellers be careful in the whole presentation of their listings from the pictures taken to dangerous materials in their products being listed.

I sold about 10 listings since being there. That does not sound like much BUT the 10 listings I sold were good sales and I saw some promise there and was willing to hang in there and add to my inventory.

I do not think it was fair of Ruby Plaza to decide to close at the end of the busiest shopping season of the year or at the end up until the free trial period. I feel it should have been given a chance to go into 2013 and then be announced.

They gave up too early and gave up a beautiful shopping site that had so much potential. I really wish they'd reconsider and look at Ruby Plaza outside of the box....even though it is hard to do. Have some fresh eyes come in there and take a harder look at what needs fixing, things that may have worked on Ruby Lane but will not work on Ruby Plaza.
What  Lessons Can Be Learned from RubyPlaza's Closing?   What Lessons Can Be Learned from RubyPlaza's Closing?
by: Digmen1 This user has validated their user name.
       Web Site
Wed May 2 05:03:50 2012
Yes, splitting their site was way too ambitious.

All these sites need something to make them go viral.
What that something is I am not sure.

What  Lessons Can Be Learned from RubyPlaza's Closing?   What Lessons Can Be Learned from RubyPlaza's Closing?
by: 1189 This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed May 2 10:07:36 2012
Nothing wrong with trying something new even if it means it doesn't work in the end. Ruby Lane is very strict about items being truly vintage or antique which is what make it a cut above the rest. They wouldn't combine the 2 and bring down the integrity of Ruby Lane. So it didn't catch on.......but Ruby Lane did. It's difficult to get a site to stick but when you have the integrity of a Ruby Lane site, treat your sellers with respect like they do as well as the customers......then nothing is lost.
What  Lessons Can Be Learned from RubyPlaza's Closing?   What Lessons Can Be Learned from RubyPlaza's Closing?
by: TrailingAlong This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed May 2 15:06:24 2012
I agree that Ruby Lane is doing right by keeping the categories they have in there. They've got something working really well, so no sense messing up something that is working....like the old saying goes, if it is not broke do not fix it.

I DO think it was a smart attempt to open another site and see why they did do that. I had looked at Ruby Lane for a long time but knew that my style (inventory) would not work there but I truly admired the site, which is why I opened a store on Ruby Plaza because I really wanted to be a part of what they would create. I strongly feel that the site would have done well given some time and some changes to accommodate the different inventory.
What  Lessons Can Be Learned from RubyPlaza's Closing?   What Lessons Can Be Learned from RubyPlaza's Closing?
by: Ron This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu May 3 20:52:04 2012
We've been listing on Ruby Lane for a number of years and on Ruby Lane since its inception.

Our sales have been quite good on Ruby Lane except for a few interruptions, primarily when they switched their servers over to Amazon Cloud Servers.

Our only comment to Ruby Lane is that they should remember that their primary function should be marketing - making our listings as visible as possible on the various search engines, not simply providing server space.

Often, in communication with them, we had the feeling that they really didn't understand the importance of the above to the seller.  Simply submitting a Google feed probably doesn't go quite far enough.

We had practically zero sales on Ruby Plaza, but to be fair, after months of no results, we didn't want to put further energies into listing there.  Perhaps had there been pro-active marketing, they may have been successful.  I guess that they were relying on a volume of sellers to propel sales, but I think that in this case, it's a question of what comes first, the chicken or the egg?
What  Lessons Can Be Learned from RubyPlaza's Closing?   What Lessons Can Be Learned from RubyPlaza's Closing?
This user has validated their user name. by: Roger Rabbit
       
Fri May 4 15:47:19 2012
Another filled grave in the eBay cemetery.
What  Lessons Can Be Learned from RubyPlaza's Closing?   What Lessons Can Be Learned from RubyPlaza's Closing?
by: Beady Eyed This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu Jan 3 01:19:06 2013
Ruby Lane does allow the selling of certain new goods on its site.  I've been successfully marketing my handmade jewelry there for several years.  It's very well run and the rules for merchants and support in terms of good customer service and what's allowed to be sold fit well with what I wanted for my on-line shop.  

Initially, on the Ruby Plaza site, Ruby Lane shop owners could open a shop without paying up front fees.   I briefly tried Ruby Plaza, but after a very few weeks I knew it wasn't going to work for me.   For many reasons, it was  a strategic mistake to tie Ruby Lane and Ruby Plaza together.  I doubt either site benefited  from that approach.  

It's unfortunate the shop owners who worked hard to make a go of Ruby Plaza are suddenly out of luck.   I don't think the support , direction and commitment  needed for success was there for them.


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