EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 399 - February 12, 2017 - ISSN 1528-6703     6 of 0

Sellers Choice 2017 Marketplace Ratings: Ruby Lane

By Ina & David Steiner

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In January 2017, EcommerceBytes surveyed over 10,000 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 10 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 in the 2017 Sellers Choice Awards for Online Marketplaces for the third year running. This year it also came in number-one for Customer Service.

In addition to comments about good customer service and clear communications, sellers said they liked the fact Ruby Lane was restrictive about what could be sold there since it maintained the integrity of the marketplace in the eyes of shoppers. "You can't sell junk on Ruby Lane. That is comforting because it keeps the quality high," wrote one seller.

There were several positive mentions about Ruby Lane giving sellers autonomy. "The simplicity and easy-to-understand and navigate listing format and the fact that Ruby Lane leaves certain things up to the discretion of the seller to decide. This is extremely important and valuable to me as a seller."

A common critique over the years has been Ruby Lane's "red tag" sales - some sellers felt having frequent 50%-off sales cheapened the site or trained customers to wait until a sale until making a purchase.

This year, sellers said they approved of changes Ruby Lane made to the sales (running 30%-off sales). "I have to give management props for backing down on the 50% off only in Red Tag Sales," one respondent wrote, though, "I still think there are too many Red Tag Sales."

No commission was also a plus, and one seller said that they were glad Ruby Lane had stopped charging for photo enhancements. However, several said the amount of time it takes to have the images processed is too long. "I hate it that it takes a day or sometimes longer till its completed," wrote one seller.

Some sellers said they felt the site was doing less advertising than they had in the past, and this year, some sellers complained about Ruby Lane's sister site getting a free ride; one seller said, "Why are we paying to advertise Ruby Lux on Ruby Lane?" Another said, "One complaint we have with the site is the recent advertising for Ruby Lux. When someone does a search on Ruby Lane for specific items, they are also shown items from this other site. In our opinion, this is totally inappropriate as, needless to say, Ruby Lane items never appear on the Ruby Lux searches."

Several sellers were critical of the ability of buyers to leave feedback for stores.

Ruby Lane received a 5.89 in Profitability; a 6.17 in Customer Service; a 6.09 in Communication; and a 6.01 in Ease of Use. 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

I sell exclusively on this site after having spent many years on Etsy. In the 6 years that I've been on Ruby Lane, I've never regretted my decision. Their customer service is professional and I find them very attentive to the seller's needs. They've revamped and updated the site to make it visually more appealing and mobile friendly. All in all, an excellent venue!

Ruby Lane is a nice high end online mall. It's a good place to sell antiques of higher value. The process of selling is good. Sometimes Ruby is a bit too picky with their way of listing things but over all its a great online mall and organized well.

Ruby Lane is reliable and careful about what you can sell.

Although the site prefers expensive antiques and fine jewelry, it's not too bad for well made artisan jewelry. I am beginning to get a small following and doing fairly well.

This site is a plus for me because I look for several things in a site. I put authenticity first. I want a site that puts the focus on selling items where they are what they say they are. In other words the information is correct and inaccuracy is monitored. Secondly, a site that is profitable. This year my profits were down but not because of them but rather me. I did not actively work my site because of other reasons. I can say they give you the means to promote and educate you on the how the to. 3. I also want a site where I can contact them if I have a problem and I have found that a definite plus.

Wonderful communicators, and whether or not I agree with every term they ask sellers to abide by, there is never a question about where they stand on the issues. Almost immediate help when I ask questions, and if I don't understand the answer the first time, they explain it until I do. Online chat often allows answers immediately, and if they are unable to answer then, your question is emailed and you have an answer within 24 hours, but most often within just a few hours unless a weird time asking it. Real people dealing with real people every time!

We have had good luck selling on Ruby Lane for over ten years. We promote the site as they also do not take a commission on top of our sales.

Ruby Lane is committed to providing a safe platform for sellers and buyers. Communications are open between sellers and anyone, which is forbidden on eBay. It means we can find new customers.

I love this site and have sold here for 10 years. Steady profits and responsive customer support.

Had my best year ever here last year. Just like everything else, you get out of it what you put into it. Glad to see they stop charging for removing the background. Red tags sales are much better at the 30% option. They ask for feedback, and seem to listen. Do not care for the reviews for individual stores, since so many people don't make the effort to leave one.

Love selling on Ruby Lane. The are a wonderful place to sell. They make updates often to make the site better. It took a bit for me to learn it but it's not there fault, it's just set up for a person that knows more than me. It can be a bit intimidating for my older clientele and some say they wish it was not so complicated to order. I'm not a big fan of the photo imaging fee for every item listed and I hate it that it takes a day or sometimes longer till its completed.

Fantastic site...attractive home page and search features. Love it!

The customer service team is great! The Red Tag Sales are very helpful and a consistent boost to my sales Also, I really appreciate the informative "Extra Extra" email flyers which give such useful advice.

I am very new to selling on a computer and have felt very blessed to be able to share my love of dolls with other like-minded people on Ruby Lane.

Superb customer support for shop owners. Financial charges easy to understand and no commission.

Great marketplace with high quality customers. Very reasonable fees. Good customer service. Highly recommend. My favorite place to sell.

I love Ruby Lane. It is the only place where I will keep my Business and it is all I need at my current Level. I may also Place Items on their Ruby Lux Site in the Future. The Staff is great and helpful

Ruby lane is very personal and fosters a wonderful environment to deal with the buyers. Customer support is exceptionally good.

Have used Ruby Lane since it began and highly recommend it.

I have been selling on RL longer than any other venue. They have up's and down's with the customer service to sellers, but they do eventually straighten out the glitches and get back into good CSR communications. (when they took on a New York Advertising Firm and added lots of new CSR's it was a disaster. However I am impressed with these days. Perhaps it is because they are not a publicly owned company and are not trying to have everyone in the world sell and buy there. They are dedicated to true Vintage and Antiques and I love that about them. I could not be happier selling there.

As a former top level executive, this site is superior to all the others, as it relates to serving as a selling venue, how RL communicates and the special promotions they host. Fantastic! Could not be happier.

Conducting business on Ruby Lane for more than a year, everything is getting better and will continue to do so and hope to be successful.

Since Ruby Lane is curated, you know that other people selling similar items will have researched their items and know their value. The site has a professional, classic look to it. There are standards that a dealer must meet to keep a shop on Ruby Lane.

Still the best site for our business. While no site is ever going to be perfect in every way, we have had another good year there. And, they have reduced the frequency of the 50 % off sales that so many shop owners disliked. We do wish they would ease up somewhat and allow more items that are re-purposed from vintage materials. This is the way that many people furnish and decorate. If you want to attract a younger buyer, you should consider making some allowances.

I need to use this site more to get the best use. Anytime I contact them they are very communicative. Good site. How can I ship items better if They require more than one box?

I have been an exclusive shop on Ruby Lane for years. They have had ups and downs in their dealer relationships and they have a tendency toward changing the site rather than improving the product they have. They also focus a lot of attention to having Red Tag Sales and promote them heavily which is a big box type of hype. Generally however with self promotion and hard work I feel it is a good site to be selling on.

I like selling on Ruby Lane a lot. I think their search engine is very strong and helps customers narrow in on what they are searching for, and it helps me find comps when I'm listing. I dinged them for having changed categories last year without warning, requiring lots of extra work on my part to re-categorize my merchandise, and for their having created categories in their jewelry "lane" that are not well thought-out.

Very poor service to sellers - hard to get questions answered, apparently no more live chat and certainly no real people. Very often get pre-prepared response that has nothing to do with question. BUT attracts buyers for big ticket items. Listing should be made easier: drop down menus and ability to "use similar" when writing descriptions, ability to schedule listings.

Problems with the way Google now displays (or doesn't display at all in some cases) our listings and our lack of presence on Google Shopping have made getting Sales a bit tougher. Overall still the best place to sell on the internet for me at least.

Ruby Lane needs to work on improving the list of antiques and collectibles categories it provides. Ruby Lane's list of available categories is incomplete, some catagories as well as sub-catagories are for example, randomly assigned to collectibles but are not included in the antiques section etc. The lists are far from logical. It requires an overhaul, and preferably by someone who has practical experience in listing items and understands the chronological order of catagories.

They always promptly communicate if I have a question. Forms are easy to use. However, their categories are too narrow and they favor certain categories of sellers such as jewelery and dolls and do not often respond to suggestions to broaden other categories, especially in the collectibles and antique categories. Also, they are the only site I know of that gauges whether you are able to list in certain categories by price; ie Antique items should be certain age, but RL uses price as a qualifier (nothing under $50). They do this in other categories as well. Seems very odd to me as a long time seller/collector,

Tried Ruby Lane for a test run for several months. Too many restrictions and I sold just as well or better on eBay format. Kid of "elite" and expensive fees for what it offers. Didn't stay on it and stayed with Etsy for better sales.

I have used Ruby Lane for years and have always loved the site but it has become very difficult over the past few years to make a profit. Last year (2016) was deplorable.

Ruby Lane was my go-to site for several years. I loved it! And then something happened. The lights went out and the selling stopped. I understand that they don't advertise anymore. WTF Ruby Lane! I pay you $200 a freakin' month and you expect me to be the social media champ? I see Ruby Lux ads online but I never see Ruby Lane. Not anymore. Are you spread too thin? Do you have too many irons in the fire? Too many websites that Ruby Lane must prop up? Ruby Lane's photo manipulation is a hit or miss. Silver items disappear on the white background. The lack of a drop shadow is a graphics nightmare from 10 years ago. And then there is the matter of unpaid purchases. Why oh why are you so behind in this area. It is demeaning let alone time consuming to beg for a payment when an item is "sold" to a looky loo who just wants to think about it. This MUST be re-worked to make the site more viable for sellers whose time is valuable. Thank God they have listened to seller complaints about the 50% off Red Tag sales. They don't have as many. But still....how tacky is a 50% off sale? How serious is a site that has something like this...? FWIW, I list on several sits at one time and Ruby Lane is the LAST site to get the item up for viewing (sometimes 36 hours later) due to the photo manipulation business. Because of this alone, they are doing their buyer's a great disservice. In short, I miss the old days of RL when I would get up in the morning to 2 sales and get 2 more throughout the day. The turn over volume was exceptional. Sadly, those days are long gone. I worry every month if this will be the month that I don't sell enough to cover cost of goods and rent. Sad. So sad.

Customer service is curt and frequently blames the user/shop owner for the problems rather than take the issue to the IT department that made the changes that do not work. Since making website changes, my customers complain about not being able to navigate the site or check out. Sometimes they do not complete the transaction or do not come back to my shop, let alone back to Ruby Lane. I am used to inputting my data to list items and have been appreciative of some of the changes they have made to the interface. It is still very slow take the pictures. The AIP is a total pain in the butt and I do not like it at all. The backgrounds in my pictures are plain but better than the stark white that ends up on the Ruby Lane pages.

I truly love selling on Ruby Lane and find other sellers as well as customers are notably more friendly, knowledgeable and mature in communications than other venues. One customer service rep though, has a personality problem of never accepting any defense of a listing, once he has initially "determined" something was listed "incorrectly".

Ruby Lane was good in the beginning but they changed their website and I went from getting a fair amount of traffic to NONE and you have to pay a monthly fee on Ruby Lane. Plus they said the fees go toward advertising and they had a list of where they advertise. I looked up the places they advertise and they did not have an advertisement in some of those locations. When I asked them about it they agreed they weren't advertising in all the locations listed and said they just needed to update their list. I felt they weren't being honest about where all they advertise.

As a long time dealer, over 12 years, I have watched as Ruby Lane management has gone severely down hill. They focus on things that they are interested in and not on what the dealers need or want. For example, there are continual changes to the look of the front page without concern for finding out what the dealers want. The present front page is unappealing and not inclined to draw in customers. The management also has a fixation on dolls and doll related items, even though there are very few dealers who sell such items or are interested in selling such items. The management seems to be drifting away from any support for dealers who specialize in real antiques. Most of the sites newsletters focus on collectibles and DOLLS with little reference to the antiques being offered. Ruby Lane has become a bigger and bigger disappointment in the last few years, because of the way they manage the site. Many of the dealers continue to sell on Ruby Lane because it is the only game in town and not because it is a good site.

There is no phone support for Ruby Lane customers. I am not happy with their marketing and lack of seller support. Fees are very high.

They put in to practice this year a feedback for customers. I hate it. Makes the site feel like eBay. Do other online stores such as Macy's have it? We all work very hard to keep our customers happy, but there are always people that are negative and ruin your reputation, even stating lies which happened to me this year, and there is nothing we can do to get it reversed.

Ruby Lane is clunky with an outdated interface. Listings have to be edited on at a time. Their checkout seems confusing to our customers. I like their dedication to vintage and antique items but there are a lot of low end pantry sweepings clogging up the site. If you direct outside traffic to your store the search bar directs them away from your inventory and into the entire Ruby Lane inventory. Confusing for those who specifically want to see your inventory.

Sales on Ruby Lane continue to plummet. A good part of the hefty monthly fee they charge was originally earmarked for advertising. I am not certain where they spend any advertising money, but definitely not with Google. Searching keywords on google for currently listed Ruby Lane items in these formats: images, shopping or listings and not one mention of a Ruby Lane listing. Etsy, eBay, Amazon, Pinterest and even Bonanza are listed in google search results, but NO Ruby Lane. If they are not participating with Google, sales will continue to go down. Most I know who were Ruby Lane sellers have left. Definitely not the same selling venue it used to be. They need a wake up call. Even their email advertising newsletter sent to customers seems to favor certain sellers, while other sellers items are ignored.

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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