EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 387 - February 14, 2016 - ISSN 1528-6703     6 of 0

Sellers Choice 2016 Marketplace Ratings: Ruby Lane

By Ina & David Steiner

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In January 2016, 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 12 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
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Summary:
Ruby Lane came in fourth place again this year in the 2016 Sellers Choice Awards for Online Marketplaces. This year, the niche site for antiques, fine art and vintage collectibles received the highest score of all marketplaces for Customer Service.

Sellers continue to say Ruby Lane draws a better class of buyers for their vintage and antique goods than other online marketplaces. "RubyLane average sales per transaction is higher for me than on other sites. Buyers don't ask for big discounts," one seller said. Some sellers mentioned the camaraderie among their peers.

Sellers said they liked the high standards Ruby Lane imposes on sellers, feeling it added to the appeal of the site to shoppers. Sellers also called the site seller-friendly and said they feel the site listens to sellers.

However, there also continues to be concern over Ruby Lane's Red Tag sales, and some sellers said they saw an increase in customers who come looking for bargains. One seller wrote, "Glad they are not only doing the 50% Red Tag sales but doing a few 30% ones, which make more sense."

Many sellers also expressed satisfaction with Ruby Lane fees. "Their selling fees are reasonable as long as you keep at least 80 items listed per week," said one seller. Another said, "While monthly fees are high, the site attracts a serious and genuine antique and collectibles audience."

"Sellers can accept many forms of payment which is a plus," wrote one seller, and another seller mentioned a bookkeeping feature favorably. But there were several comments criticizing Ruby Lane's photo enhancement feature, for which sellers must pay a fee. "The 39 cent fee for "correcting" our primary photo - we have no choice in that," said one seller. "So if they correct a photo, and I later take the item down, and relist it later, they will "correct" the same photo again and charge me 39 cents."

One seller pointed to a policy they felt was unfair. "A policy which is detested by rank and file sellers is the divisive policy of giving extra treats to "exclusive" sellers who agree to not sell on any other website. Yet they are allowed to sell in bricks and mortar shops, markets, etc."

There were some who said the platform was not up-to-date and reported technical issues. "There are issues from 2013 that have still not been fixed. I know for certain that they have lost many customers over these continuing problems."

"Ruby Lane is a terrific venue for sellers," wrote another seller. "The harder you work at your store the more profitable it will be. Ruby Lane gives you the tools to be successful in online selling."

Ruby Lane received a 6.18 in Profitability; a 6.22 in Customer Service; a 6.01 in Communication; and a 6.07 in Ease of Use. It received a 6.64 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

Ruby Lane has a sustainable business model in place for the dealers who sell through their venue. Ruby Lane requires the highest of standards and sound business ethics from their sellers. Both requirements are enforced fully by Ruby Lane. As a dealer on Ruby Lane I take great pride in my affiliation with this company. When you qualify to be a shop on Ruby Lane your have instant credibility with buyers. I love being a dealer on Ruby Lane! They are the best!

I've been selling on the Lane going on 16 years now. It is by far the best venue for my items. Some months are better than others and I'm not a fan of their constant Red Tag sales. I am hoping their Ruby Luxe experiment doesn't impact the original concept (most Ruby Lane sales are NOT in the "Luxe" category).

RubyLane average sales per transaction is higher for me than on other sites. Buyers don't ask for big discounts. The shipping is an issue, I like eBay better for that. FedEx is too expensive for the buyers.

Best site for selling when you know the value of the items!

I've recommended two shop owners to Ruby Lane so far. I think they have a very good format for selling my items and a good reliable reputation therefore people feel comfortable purchasing merchandise on line.

Great seller venue; great communication, easy to use!!

One of the best online marketplaces, both buyer and seller friendly. As a seller I feel comfortable selling on Rubylane. Sellers can accept many forms of payment which is a plus. Their selling fees are reasonable as long as you keep at least 80 items listed per week. Ruby Lane is a keeper!

Relatively new on this site. Good information available and easy to use. Very professional.

Rubylane is the best! Very helpful! Great suggestions and tips for sales. Always easy to reach for questions. Their standards are high so a very classy organization.

Rubylane is a wonderful venue for selling my vintage and antique collectibles and the fees are extremely reasonable.

RL is quite strict on age of items allowed on site and has many good antique dealers, thus giving a sellers vintage and antique items a fair comparison to other items on the site.

As a complement to my brick and mortar store, Ruby Lane provides an avenue to collectors who are looking for good paintings at sensible products. Selling just one painting per month is the extra revenue that eases the burden on the store.

Reasonable overhead; very open to suggestions from sellers; very friendly communications

I am very pleased with Ruby lane; it is a wonderful selling site, and has high quality stores and sellers. Their bookkeeping for sellers is the best, and makes record keeping a breeze. They also respond to queries quickly and seek the opinions of their sellers.

I sell on Ruby, Sales are good. It is a venue, most work is done by me. I don't believe Ruby promotes my shop as much as I do.

My preferred site. Selling policies are balanced. Has the highest quality standards. Excellent support for sellers. Has more informed, more discriminating buyers who do not shop solely by price. Sellers don't seem to engage in "flea market" bargain basement cutthroat competition. Sellers seem to be more helpful toward other sellers on Ruby Lane. Buyer/seller communication far easier than the big auction site.

I LOVE selling on Ruby Lane and think it's THE top site for selling vintage and antiques!!

Ruby is truly a venue and does not interfere with your selling. They have less rules and their rules are less complicated when compared to eBay. The issue with Rub Lane in the fact that they do not get the traffic eBay gets for its sellers.

Ruby has great service to sellers. It has been a tough year for selling the items I have. Ruby does get a lot of lookers and does try to keep with the selling times.

I think it's hard and getting harder every year to make money online. Ruby Lane for me and my merchandise has been the best venue. Easy to use and learn. The search engine is not as good as it could be. eBay's is by far and away the best.

Excellence in advertising the site over the years. Ease of use for sellers is very good.

Great web site, attracts great clientele, selling on this site for over 10 years and not had any problems with the site or the customers that use the site.

I enjoy using Rubylane very much! Customer service is fantastic. I love how much shop looks and the layout. It is easy enough to use. The only thing is it costs a fair bit to run, for clicks that is, but understandably really. This clearly is a good system and gets your pieces noticed. A great great selling platform!

Great venue to sell and to buy. Do not like ads that show up from other sellers when checking out. Do not like having to pay for listings to be modified before shown on your website. Do not like listings to be modified at all by ruby lane.

It's a user friendly site which, for the time being suits our needs as online sellers, for the time being anyways, as long as fees don't continue to climb.

Excellent site for both sellers and buyers with reasonable costs for selling. High standards required for items listed by sellers.

Love, Love, Love Ruby Lane! Best selling venue ever. I am proud to be a part of this great site. My shop has always done well, ever since the beginning. I sold on eBay for 10 years and then came to RL and have never looked back. What a difference! I absolutely would recommend RL to anyone.

Great company to work with. They work hard to provide great tools to improve sales for their vendors. They monitor the inventory to insure the highest quality merchandise is available to the buyers. They are always asking for suggestions and feedback from the vendors about ways to improve the site and selling experience. They listen!

It's fun to be a part of Ruby Lane! The site's appearance is simultaneously colorful and chic. The periodic Red Tag sales are an excellent way to stimulate sales and bring lots of extra traffic to my shop. And Ruby Lane's customer service is great! They answer quickly and are always polite, even when I am grouchy about a certain issue.

I am a dealer and have bought and sold on Ruby Lane for some years. I have always been satisfied with the website's prompt, professional and courteous service.

Known for better quality especially vintage as well as artisan. Fair fee for the advertising and listing. Periodic sales work well as long as are not too often.

Glad they are not only doing the 50% red tag sales but doing a few 30% ones which make more sense. I don't like the 50%.Think they listen to their dealers. They do a great job of newsletters and push for themes. The site is easy to use, and they keep it current. Appreciate that they got the USPS updates for standard shipping shift to Retail so I didn't have to update all my items. Still not happy about their aip image processing. But basically, thumbs up!

Sophisticated platform for serious buyers and sellers. They vet you to begin and maintain a site-wide high standard. They don't take a % of your sales, and compared to eBay, the monthly fees are 1/10th or less of the cost. Bravo RL! I'm happy to have found you!

I like selling on Ruby Lane because they are very supportive and you are adjudicated before you can even be a seller on their site so they don't have to police the sellers as they do on other sites. It is more stress free.

(1) NO FINAL FEES!!!! (2) While monthly fees are high, the site attracts a serious and genuine antique and collectibles audience.

I love that it's a curated site that is well monitored. And they market to high end buyers. All 10's, except for recommending. I would recommend it to a select few of antique and jewelry dealers, not to people looking to unload grandma's house. Then again, they might not qualify (which is good, keeps it professional). Have had a shop at Rubylane for 12 years and right from the beginning we felt right at home. It is so easy to add items and very easy to take care of our customers. We feel that if our customers are happy then we are happy too. Just a great place to sell.

I love Rubylane. You pay a small monthly fee to keep your shop open. The amount you sell your item for is ALL yours! They keep the quality of the shops high so it is like having a brick and mortar store rather than a sidewalk sale. Your customers are higher quality to reflect this.

I have been here since '07 and have increased sales each year. Fixed price with or without make an offer works better that the auction format for me. You get out of it what you are willing to put into it.

Ruby Lane is truly a venue and does not have too many rules and overly complicated requirements. They do not change the rules frequently and truly keep them simple, which is what a volume seller looks for. I believe it would be great if they were able to drive more visitors to the site and the various shops, which would result in more sales.

I love this site; there is a different type of buyer here and the quality of goods offered is great inspiring confidence in buyers which helps my sales overall. The site sometimes has technical issues, but customer service is very helpful.

This is my fourth year on Ruby Lane and I have increased my profitability and customer base year over year. I love this site, wonderful sellers, great Ruby Lane staff, excellent customer service and superb customers!

No problems at all, nothing to criticise, very very fair fees and ease of use. Tiny criticism is the RL photo enhancement, sometimes ruins the photos and also delays the items visibility to buyers for over 24 hours.

Customer service has gotten better this year, but sometimes you have to wait and wait to chat with a rep when having a question or problem. When connected, the rep helps immediately with the correct response. I like selling on RL because I don't have to rush selling a few items at a time, I can build my inventory and then take a break with putting new items for sale. It sometimes takes a while to get the right seller for the right item.

Apart from a monthly fee RL provides services that other sites do not. Just wish they had telephone service.

It depends on what you are selling. If it's antiques, dolls and vintage, it may be good. As an Artisan it's not very profitable. They cater to Vintage and Dolls. Nice website but fees are very high.

I like Ruby Lane. But, I am not confident that there is a sufficient market for primitive or folk art items. It tends to veer more toward jewelry, glass etc.

Fees are a bit high for roll-over inventory. Support by phone is not offered (to my belief) but email support/live chat are adequate for most situations.

I think they should cycle existing inventory more. There is no incentive to keep putting up fresh inventory when I already have so much that is not recycled on my own front page on a regular basis.

I have been an exclusive seller on Ruby Lane for about 12 years. Generally the customer service and communications have been pretty good although it seems to be getting a little worse which is why I am not rating them as high this year as in past years.

Ruby Lane has a great reputation because they require their sellers to accept returns, and hold sellers responsible. This is very important for buyer confidence.

Ruby Lane provides a medium that allows the seller to develop a market. Fees are on the higher end but is weighted toward increasing market share. Very rigid platform with autocratic oversight. A niche site with room for some growth.

Out of all venues I have used and investigated, this is clearly the best available at this point. It has dropped the ball in many areas.....but is still ahead of its competitors. I would say growing pains lead to a lack of follow through and staying true to its original values. Needs to clean house and c get rid of the chaff and rampant "misidentifying" and keyword spamming that now predominate the site. They need to tighten up the ship.

Ruby Lane has a problem with too many red tag sales; it gives buyers an impression of a bargain basement, when the site is really full of expensive items.

Very Expensive compared to sales. Not Profitable even after 10 years of working. Nice Merchandise. Well protected site. Photos are ridiculously high priced and are not really that well done. Many merchants have their own software that is better for editing.

I'm very new to Ruby Lane and I began selling items almost immediately during the first month. Then the sales came to a complete halt in spite of the fact that I get numerous views. Potential customers put my items on their wish list or in their carts; however, they do not follow through with a purchase.

It's expensive to use Ruby Lane: original listing, cost of special photo display which is SO UNNECESSARY (in my case at least), advertising costs, maintenance costs, but especially that the last couple of years I've lost profit as a result of so many shops being on Ruby Lane now, some of which sell at eBay prices

Fees are too high. Sales have gone down in the last year and the high fees make selling on Ruby Lane unprofitable for the number of sales made. Actually losing money some months. Will be closing shop.

Ruby Lane's Customer Service Department is ONLY online AND they are not available after hours or on the weekends yet our shops are open 24/7. If I'm having an issue with adding an item or the system is glitching, I have to wait until either the following day or the ENTIRE weekend! The AIP process is absolutely awful. The average time that I have to wait for a picture to be "processed" is 24-30 hours. Most of my items look fake once they have been processed and some of my items had part of the jewelry removed "rubbed" out during the AIP process. The "strict" guidelines for what is allowed in a picture such as a hand with a ring on it or a necklace stand that holds a necklace are inconsistent. If I did not have so much time and money invested in Ruby Lane, I would have left 2 years ago when the AIP process started. I have to admit that there is one person at Ruby Lane that I feel is really trying to help with some of these issues and that is Rob Spear, Senior VP of Customer Support.

Nice venue but way, way too expensive to use as a seller. Their advertising charges are high for what you get. They lack the following of the buying public. Not near as lucrative as Etsy.

Honestly this was an amazing antique site when it first came out, but the website traffic has gone down every year and I do not think it will last long term unless they make some changes.

I used to do well on RL but sales in the last few months have been poor. I attribute this to the far too frequent 50% off sales which have groomed buyers to wait before making a purchase. Or to ask for ludicrous discounts. Another policy which is detested by rank and file sellers is the divisive policy of giving extra treats to "exclusive" sellers who agree to not sell on any other website. Yet they are allowed to sell in bricks and mortar shops, markets, etc. This policy is old fashioned, arcane and makes no sense. It is also easily got around. I personally know of two of these "exclusive" sellers who sell on another site (Etsy). All you have to do to subvert the policy is to sell "different" things on another site and use another name, or use that of a relative. These so called "exclusive" sellers don't pay any more in fees but they get preferential treatment in search for which they have paid nothing extra. Institutionalized snitching has also created a toxic atmosphere on the site with clique flagging

They have a problem with execution of their ideas like sales. They need a good marketing staff with all the internet sites today.

Too expensive. If I didn't have Exclusive status with old rates, I would never sell on RL. Slow sales this past year. I wouldn't recommend them for these reasons. Clunky listing form, though it has improved some the last year or so. Required Image Enhancement has been sometimes frustrating; some things just don't work with this processing (e.g. clear glass, things with small openings/holes, mesh, etc). Limited ability to refuse accepting an "enhanced" image means being stuck with bad images or paying twice and re-taking photos. Very annoying. CS responds to inquiries, but they often don't seem to read what I've written, and their tone in emails is often dismissive or accusatory: I must be wrong, or must have made a mistake. Not too nice when I am their customer and paying them money every month.

The site is easy to use, but they still do not have a direct phone number, and that turns a lot of customers and sellers off. They are always right, no matter how wrong they are, and their IT staff creates more trouble every time they try to "improve" the site.

I've sold on RL for many years. Things have changed with management trying to go "high end" but having many "red tag sales" throughout the year and in order to participate sellers must mark items down 50%. I believe the red tag sales cheapen the site and buyers have become accustomed to waiting for them before they buy. Most sellers cannot afford to knock 50% off their prices. These sales make RL look like a bargain basement. I don't participate and never will until the PTB allow sellers to choose their percentage off.

Ruby Lane's customer service used to be the best in the business. Something has changed and it has been downhill since 2013. They do not enforce their guidelines evenly, they are rude and surly, I understand that several shop owners have been threatened with losing their livelihood for complaining. The website is using technology from the 1990s. We finally got credit card payments in 2015. They website is constantly broken. Every other ecommerce site can take advantage of Google analytics but Ruby Lane has broken it on their site and failed to fix it. Long time shoppers have stopped coming to the site due to the complexity of the checkout process and lack of search capability. Customers continually complain about the horrible pictures with the background removed. They treat their shop owners with contempt. It is a very exasperating situation. We estimate that they lost somewhere between 600-800 shops last year alone. Hey Ruby Lane: Wake up!

Seller info and support is spotty at best. Responders aren't Ruby Lane employees of often don't know the product.

My only complaint about Ruby Lane is the abundance of repros appearing in the shops. It's endemic and RL seems to do little to nothing to stop it, despite their own hard worded policies about closing shops for such infractions. It hurts honest sellers and tarnishes the overall reputation of Ruby Lane as a sales venue.

I've been selling on RL for almost ten years. My last two years have been awful. I have always done fairly well but lately it has been horrible. In fact I'm thinking of leaving.

Too often, customer service gives canned answers and it takes a long time to get specific information. Their photo processing continues to be a problem as it delays live listing. Sellers just have to wait and sometimes for days. Flagging is too often supported and items removed from your shop without any ability to give documentation that supports your listing.

This site is excellent. The only complaint is the photo requirements for primary photos. The extra cost. The lack originally you may want to present in your shop has been taken away. I have to say I have had so many problems with the photo editing program and not being able to correct causing much time having to contact customer service. I say thumbs down to current primary photo editing and costs. Allow shop owners the right to choose how they wish to present their items.

Ruby Lane is a quality venue and lots of fun. In most cases the customer service is very helpful but this past year I feel that the real big box stores have 3 to 5000 items in their shop on making it very difficult for traffic to find the smaller dealer 500 items. I hate that red tag sale at first it was a A unique way to draw traffic to the site but over the last couple years I feel that it has Attracted bargain hunters who normally would not be shopping on Ruby Lane. Customers are making lower offers knowing that we reduce our inventory and expect these prices routinely. Worst sales year ever and I have been with them for 0ver 10 years. I love them but I am hoping that they begin again to make the smaller dealer feel important and special and not leave us in the dust as they focus more on the decorative arts.

I don't like that they select items for your storefront rather than what you choose to display. They do not update new items daily. I used to check for my search changes almost every half hour and purchase more than I sell. Now it can take days for them to update new jewelry listings. Also, they need a buy it now feature, some buyers will take your newly listed items and prevent others from purchasing as it can stay in their carts as "sale pending". We have all asked for the purchase now as Etsy and others use, but they don't really listen to the dealers. Frustrating....

Ruby Lane's management makes changes to the website without giving sellers any chance to provide input and without telling sellers ahead of time. Suddenly the changes are just there.

Ruby Lane is an attractive site and fairly easy to use, but their listing and shop fees add up and it's hard to see a profit. We have been selling there since 2009 but we average 25% of gross sales in shop fees, which feels too high. Also there are no seller forums or chat boards which makes it hard to ask questions or compare notes with other sellers. We keep the RL site open and add inventory weekly but the profits are just not close to what we can see on Etsy.

I, like many other sellers I have spoken to, dislike the 50% off Red Tag Sales. Even though we are not forced to participate, we feel that those sales have had a negative impact on our businesses.

I have sold exclusively on Ruby Lane for over 10 years. For the first 5 years, it was a great place to sell however since then the site seems to be on an accelerating downward spiral. They have not had an explicit fee increase for many years however they have taken away all the freebies (the free anniversary month, free listing days, 10% bonus for deposits over a certain amount etc.) and have mandated and charged extra for the advance image processing. The red tag sales seem to be the thrust of their advertising efforts and with 50% off, the sales leave little if any room for dealer profit. Communication with their dealers has also seriously declined over time and it seems now that the site is working against rather than with the dealers to improve the site. It is a shame but we will be looking seriously at the survey results for a better place to sell this year.

Way too many glitches when listing items and using the selling platform. Ruby Lane used to be my best selling venue, then something happened and my items are not being found. Very poor sales. My worst year on Ruby Lane. And the frequent Ruby Red Tag Sales are making the place seem like a flea market while making prices seem irrelevant. Not happy with Ruby Lane this year.

This site costs me more in fees than any other I use. Sales are few and far between and keep getting worse every year. They rely too much on their Red Tag sales to bring their sellers sales.

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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