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EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 352 - February 02, 2014 - ISSN 1528-6703     7 of 18

Sellers Choice 2014 Marketplace Ratings: Ruby Lane


By Ina & David Steiner
EcommerceBytes.com

February 02, 2014
 



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In January 2014, EcommerceBytes surveyed over 12,000 online sellers and asked them to rate the marketplaces on which they had experience selling. An introduction to the Sellers Choice survey along with a summary of the overall ratings can be found here, along with links to results for each of the 16 online marketplaces included in the survey.


Profitability:

Customer Service:

Communication:

Ease of Use:

Would you recommend:

Rubylane
Year Established: 1998
Description: Fixed price, shops; antiques, collectibles, fine art, arts and crafts
More Info

Summary:
Ruby Lane sellers have been among the most consistently satisfied among merchants in the last 5 years of Sellers Choice Awards, but 2013 was more challenging for this niche site. Rather than a standard "marketplace" site, Ruby Lane is an online mall of over 2,500 individually-owned shops offering antiques & art, vintage collectibles and jewelry. One seller explains, "I love selling on Rubylane.com because they are gearing their site as higher end and are drawing that kind of buyer to their site."

Dealers like the kind of buyer Ruby Lane attracts. As other dealers have said in past years, one seller wrote, "Customers know what they want and do not ask ridiculous offers." Another wrote, "The only site that attempts to police their listings."

"I am only in the last four months spent appropriate time on my shop, and sales have begun to pick up," wrote one seller. "I have past experience with a booth in a brick and mortar location. Costs are much less to sell on Ruby Lane. I anticipate a good year! Perhaps I will rate my profitability a ten in 2014! Seller support in general on Ruby Lane is great. I also have purchased on Ruby Lane and found it very easy."

Many sellers again had only praise for the site, but some were harsh critics - especially of major changes including fee increases and a site resdesign. One seller wrote, "Ruby Lane has fallen down on the job this year blaming poor sales on the 2 week government shut down as opposed to taking responsibility for their overnight change in the site." Other sellers were critics of the 50% off sales that they felt negatively impacted their sales whether they participated or not.

One seller wrote, "Although Ruby Lane has hit a rough patch this year it is still worth the cost to operate a shop and I am confident they will get back on track. I do miss the feel of entering a modern village lane for shopping - the clean modern look of the home page is sterile and is stripped of its old world charm and personality."

Ruby Lane received its highest score for Ease of Use (6.57). It received a 6.27 for Communication, a 6.23 for Customer Service, and a 5.77 for Profitability. It received a 6.12 from sellers when asked, "How likely are you to recommend Ruby Lane as a selling venue to a friend or colleague?"

Reader Comments:The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Terrific site, with emphasis on great customer service!

Very nice in style and items seem to move in and out of the shop fairly quick. Very easy to access and help is readily there every time I have asked. Buyers are just as nice as the sellers and I love being with this site.

I love selling on Rubylane.com because they are gearing their site as higher end and are drawing that kind of buyer to their site. I sell higher end, better quality antiques. I have sold quite a few antiques since Jan. 2013. I was a previous seller on Rubylane.com as well, from 2003 to 2005, until I became so busy with my own 5000 sq. ft. mall, which we had to close in 2008 due to the economy. I am very happy with my sales on Rubylane.

Wonderful site, wonderful buyers. Customer service always answers very quickly, but occasionally just "smooths you over" and fails to provide a useful answer.

Exclusive to RL now and would not change it for the world. Love it! Customers know what they want and do not ask ridiculous offers.

Great new look. Fantastic picture processing. Wonderful back room tools. Excellent customer support. The only site that attempts to police their listings.

I have been a seller on Ruby Lane for many years. Other sites do not compare in any way to Ruby Lane. Ruby Lane is professional and is always updating the site with enhancements and adding new tools for the buyer and seller. Although Ruby Lane has hit a rough patch this year it is still worth the cost to operate a shop and I am confident they will get back on track. I do miss the feel of entering a modern village lane for shopping - the clean modern look of the home page is sterile and is stripped of its old world charm and personality. My only other comment is the tag line "vintage begins here" which does not fit with new "Ruby Lane". It is rare for you to see an item that most of us would refer to as vintage (retro, modern, etc.) in the featured section of the home page or the covers of the pages. The featured items are primarily expensive antiques and "high-priced" vintage pieces. No vintage kitchen items, retro and other lower priced items that are trending with the younger crowd. I do like the new image processing tool very much.

This is the only site I have stayed with for over a decade. Every year my profits get bigger and better. Management is very responsive to any issues that may arise, and makes improvements regularly.

Reasonable cost, excellent communication, and a constant upgrading of all aspects make this the best site for me to sell.

Quick responses to questions, Incentives for sellers, Real People on the Other end to talk to. Sellers encourage other sellers....great place to buy as well as to sell.....I also like a price rather than auction selling site.

I've been with Ruby Lane for 3+ years and find that there fees, customer service and advertising provide a selling venue that allows a seller to flourish, depending upon how much time a seller devotes to their shop and customers.

Reasonable rules for a venue, reasonable seller vetting, answers questions and respond in a timely manner. Ones pays them to sell there, one makes a profit and there is a stable platform to work from.

Site is easy to use customer service there to answer your question The site is set up to make you shop look professional and beautiful.

Consistent satisfaction since 2000. Easy to use and constant updating of the site. RL stands by its sellers.

I feel as though I'm a member of a commercial family where there is going to be a helping hand if I need that. Questions are always promptly answered by staff. The ease of use is excellent, directions and demonstrations for how to execute the various tasks are readily available. Ruby Lane supports the vendor in a dispute.

Ruby Lane gives you the impression that they care more about the quality and accuracy of the items sold on this site a lot more than about their bottom lines. They have a lot of guidelines and mechanisms to insure quality and accuracy in the description of the items. They have programs to help new sellers like the mentoring program. They also have plenty of information on vintage and antique items. In short, they rock!

I have been on Ruby Lane for two years now. My profitability has gone up 30% year over year and I'm very satisfied with Ruby Lane's customer service they are there when I have questions and receive answers quickly. That is a giant plus in my business.

Ruby Lane is a great site. My only complaint is that navigating the great amount of info on the site re: being a seller can be a little confusing. Don't like the search engine for FAQs much. Otherwise, it is a wonderful site and my business has profited from using it.

Overall, RubyLane is my lotto ticket. They market to upscale buyers and seemed to have found a way to instill trust among fellow dealers and buyers alike. Please never go away. My only complaint this year was that I got a "stock answer" from an email.

Ruby Lane is the one site I sell on which puts its sellers first. Queries are answered within 24 hours if online chat is not available and the advice given is individualised and informative. The site can be profitable if you have good quality products and knowledge of what you are selling. My main criticisms are these:- Too many half price sales which I feel devalues products and creates a "bargain basement" atmosphere. Giving an unfair priority to "exclusive" shops and those of longer standing which is unfair to new shops or those who sell on other venues. This seems conservative and restrictive. Modern business practice favours diversification and selling on a variety of sites.

This is my go-to online site. Overall I'm very happy with it. If there is anything I am not happy with - it is that because their rates are so low, they do attract too many cottage industry and rummage store shops, uncomplimentary the level of merchandise we are selling. And...far too frequent 50% Off Sales which we all know has disastrous long term effects on the retail bottom line.

Excellent site with great support and customer base. Promotional tools and free photos with very affordable listing rates and fees.

Well run site with good customer service. Excellent record keeping and ease of adding new items. Attracts a higher echelon of customer.

Excellent throughout. Professionally run and managed by helpful & friendly staff.

Love RL, dependable, reliable and good reputation. Wide variety of items, love their new look and upgrade.

My favorite site to sell on. Great customer service...Great perks such as free listings several times a year...Great customers that shop faithfully...no commissions...easiest site to sell on! Ruby Lane is #1 in my book!

Excellent service and tutorials. High-quality items and sellers. A really professional venue.

The site is easy to use. Customer service is very fast to respond. Traffic is good, but could be better, many people still haven't heard of them. I'm not a fan of the new look and overblown unrecognizable objects or the floating photographs. My sales seemed to drop after the new look went into effect. Time will tell.

I have been selling on Ruby Lane since 2000, and I have slowly stopped doing antique shows and just selling on Ruby Lane. It is safer, and people have an idea what you have and what a fair price would be for it. Ruby Lane is one of the best values ever I think for an antique seller.

Ruby Lane is not static when it comes to making changes they feel will move sales forward for their sellers. I admit that many things have changed in the past year. As a seller I have embraced these changes and as such, had my best selling year since joining Ruby Lane.

There are some technical issues and some changes I don't like but overall it has been a good venue for selling.

Very user friendly, they advertise for us so the site gets a lot of traffic. Can build a loyal customer base.

Love this site & do sell on this site still! The changes being made are great, but some are not to my liking!

Before the change to the new look, these people were top of the line. Now, they have slipped a bit. They are not as on top of things as they once were. I don't know if they have new people working for them, but they need to bring back the old staff if they have.

Too many red tag sales. No live customer service.

Ratings would be higher but Ruby Lane policies need to be re-examined. For instance, the site restricts Art Deco items to those only made in the 1920s. The Art Deco period began earlier and lasted through most of the 1940s. It has also raised fees and will be requiring use of its photo enhancement service. At 75 cents a pop that's a lot of $$$ when you list more than 150 items a month! And that's on top of their advertising fee and listing fees.

They will always answer you but there are things they do not have as a long time seller that I really want them to have. Better end of the year information... that just ought to be a given that their dealers would like to have cost of merchandise be a part of the yearly report. We enter that information in every listing why can't they have a software that adds that up like they do sales and shipping? Please do not mistake this as a deal breaker for me. I do very well on the site and am happy with the way my business presents there but this is a real technical BUMMER.

I find it sometimes difficult to navigate their site. eg. Shop tools. Word meanings, spellings, expressions and nicknames etc are different to our spoken and written word here in the UK. On the whole they are an excellent selling platform. I love it !!! I think its great !!!!!.

Ruby Lane continually raise their rates. We now pay $30 per month for advertising; yet, we must promote our own shops to be found. They have dropped traditional advertising in paper and TV or news. I don't believe they pay for Google adwords or if they do the budget is very limited. The new AIP picture program is the latest "creative" way they have devised to raise fees. Still the best place to sell antiques and vintage, though they are not well known after 15 years on line compared to Etsy or eBay. Their site is easy on the eye and easy to use. I am concerned with their latest focus on auctions such as the one recently conducted for a selected few and if my items will be the right "fit" for the new RL once (or if) they ever decide to focus on what is their plan.

Ruby Lane has some very prudish rules when it comes to their vintage clothing section, but, overall, the rest of the site works well, is easy to use, and we often recommend it to sellers with high quality inventory.

I find some of the tools for promoting my listings are difficult to understand and also would like have space for more personal messages available on My Shop page.

Great site, but extremely expensive monthly fees. Search engine needs fixing, as does categories. Ridiculous new rules such as photo background removal for an insane price ($.39 per photo) and if you don't use THEIR service, even if you already have background removed they will not feature your items. Trying too hard to be like 1stDibb.

Contrary to their stated claim..Ruby Lane do NOT always respond to my letters of concern and aspects of the recent site upgrade have resulted in loss of sales for my shop as they no longer have a dedicated postcard lane.

I love the fact that I don't have to pay a percentage of the items I sell. If I don't make money selling on Ruby Lane It is my own fault! They make it easy to sell and it is more like having a real shop in an upscale mall without the overhead! I love it.

I had to rate the profitability at 8 because of the Red Tag Sales at 50% off. Since I already price my pieces low in order to sell them on a steady basis, I barely make my costs on the RT sales. And on the last two Red Tags, I didn't sell anything so I am thinking of not participating any more in the sales. I will reduce the sale price on selected pieces by 30% on a regular basis; that works better for me on number of items sold and profitability. I have been disappointed on the emphasis you are placing on Vintage items as opposed to artisan work. So much of what is offered as "Vintage" is simply garage sale or flea market stuff and cheapens your image.

When I started on Ruby Lane in 2011, I was extremely pleased. The site has changed considerably, becoming very expensive to sell. It has become more like a flea market offering too many half price sales. Their rules have become arbitrary, and I am considering leaving the site, as I am selling less with double the inventory than I had last year. I list every day, and have a variety of items and prices. Google shows most of my items, although I do not pay for ad words.

They need to ask for seller's opinions on changes they make to site, number of red tag sales, pictures. They tend to operate from the top down using pressure to force change. Sellers are store owners not just occasional users.

I am only in the last four months spent appropriate time on my shop, and sales have begun to pick up. I have past experience with a booth in a brick and mortar location. Costs are much less to sell on Ruby Lane. I anticipate a good year! Perhaps I will rate my profitability a ten in 2014! Seller support in general on Ruby Lane is great. I also have purchased on Ruby Lane and found it very easy.

Recently Ruby Lane changed the look of their site, me and other sellers I know did not like it, we were never informed of this change or asked to pick from several choices, expressed my opinion, made no difference, still don't like the new look, prefer the old one and then increased the monthly fee too. It is a high end site for the items I sell with big worldwide exposure.

The economical climate has changed, selling is not as busy as it was a year ago, but this seems to be on all internet selling sites.

My sales dropped drastically this year. Ruby Lane's focus doesn't seem to be with the seller's. Weird association with Auctionata with little to no communication with seller's regarding it. Less impressed with every year I am there.

Don't like the tag sales being 50% off; give more options. Don't like the new look; bring back the old graphics, don't magnify picture on top of shop page.

Well established, well set up, user friendly for sellers, although I have had complaints of confusion from some buyers

In the past year Ruby Lane has changed its focus. They are not interested in keeping old loyal sellers but in attracting new sellers with higher end merchandise. There is no way to contact them after hours. If you disagree with them they suggest that "Ruby Lane might not be the site for you." I think their old customers have left and have no idea what the site is about these days. I had the worst Christmas sales ever on Ruby Lane this year. Their idea of glamour is out of a 1950s decorator magazine. So sad since it used to be a nice friendly site.

Ruby Lane has fallen down on the job this year blaming poor sales on the 2 week government shut down as opposed to taking responsibility for their overnight change in the site. The site's 3 half price sales in 6 weeks smacks of desperation and classless pandering. Absolutely unacceptable. The management says the sales are optional for sellers to participate but my sales plummet the week before and after. If I don't join, I don't sell. The website change resulted in agonizingly slow listings. And time is money. Photos regularly don't load and can't be edited making listings look sloppy and unprofessional. Then there was the advertising across my Ruby Lane homepage for an auction that took place somewhere else and that I was not involved in! Another unacceptable action on the part of the powers that be. The number of purchase orders placed and then not paid for is too high. Buyers place a purchase order and then are given a "thank you" BEFORE payment is made. As an antique show seller, I know you don't thank the buyer until the cash is in your hand and the transaction is complete. If a potential buyer has time to think and walk away from a purchase, they very rarely come back to make the payment. Another VERY BAD example of Ruby Lane's "management." It is astonishing to realize that the site has around 2500 dealers and there are days when only 250 items are listed on the "recently sold" page for the day or 3000 for the week! Those are terrible terrible numbers.

"Help" provides no help at all…is an outside provider now being used? "Chat" experience has been very useless lately…don't really understand the product. Nevertheless, RL is the strongest seller site at the moment.

Ruby Lane is no longer attractive to the mid range seller. The cost has gone up and all advertising (esp. the ridiculous "Ruby Read") benefits the high end sellers. Their customer service has declined.

I find their advance imaging process confusing. The price varies from 9 cents to 39 cents to list the first pictures. The price depends on knowing what page to request this imaging on.

I would like to have more transparency from the management team with respect to the overall vision, the reasons for decisions that have been made and what plans are in the pipeline. I feel my feedback falls on deaf ears.

I have been a seller since 2002, but the recent changes on the menu for the sellers is really time consuming and inconvenient, prior to software upgrades, the menu was easy to access as all the options were to the left of the screen, now they are all over the board.

Not happy with ruby lane due to lack of new users to many listing restrictions format changes to the site and no phone contact as well as jump in fees

The shipping calculator is what makes listing on this site a breeze. Thank you for that Ruby Lane!

The 50% off Red Tag sales are ruining the site. Faced with raising prices on everything as customer service suggested so that it can be marked down or not participating. Plus the very month is just too much. The reason they got a 1 for communication is that management has refused to listen to sellers to allow different mark down levels. There is no communication because to communicate requires a sender and a receiver, Management is great at sending but just doesn't receive.

Overall, extremely pleased. My #1 change is that the Red Tag Sales should have more options for the percent of discount than only 50%.

Higher rates this year. Had to work a lot harder to keep profit percentages the same or better than last year. I think the mandatory 50% off sales are disturbing and way too high. More and more junk listed at high prices. Now buyers expect big discounts more often than before. New changes to some categories disturbing as are changes to make it a high end decorator type site. I still like it better than any I have sold on previously.

I've had a shop on RL for 9 years. I feel they're now focusing on high end antiques. Also their 50% off Ruby Red sales are abominable.

Venue raised their fees considerably - now charging a mandatory 30.00 a month for "advertising". No explanation is given as to where this money is spent on. Sales are down from previous years. But they do seem to be trying.

Sellers Choice Awards:
We thank all readers who took the time to rate the marketplaces. If you have comments about the survey results or the survey itself, please feel free to post them in the EcommerceBytes Blog.

About the author:

Ina and David Steiner are publishers of EcommerceBytes.com and have been writing about ecommerce since 1999.


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