Continuing our Marketplaces 2018 series, today we look at Ruby Lane. To find a full list of marketplaces we’ve written about already, visit our Marketplaces 2018 page here.
Marketplaces 2018 is produced in association with Flubit.com, the largest UK owned marketplace to sell your inventory on.
Web address: www.rubylane.com
Ruby Lane is a marketplace based in the United States that specialises in the sale of antiques, art, vintage collectables and jewelery. It was founded back in 1998 by Tom Johnson and Jim Wilcoxson, so has weathered the storms of boom and bust successfully. They claim to get 1.1 million unique visitors every month and boast an email mailing list of 166k.
To get a sense of what’s selling on the site right now, check out their Top 50 section for items that are popular here.
As they say of their philosophy:
We pride ourselves in our service, ease of use, and reliability for all of Ruby Lane’s visitors; finding items quickly and easily is key to our business. Our strategy is to integrate the real world transactions of antiques and collectibles into the Internet’s expanding global community. Borders are disappearing and communities are being built in the growing realm of online commerce; Ruby Lane enjoys being an integral and valuable part of the process.
– Ruby Lane
The demographics of Ruby Lane users are quite intriguing. 93% are aged between 40 and 70 and 85% are women. As a group, they are well-educated, have disposable income, and most importantly, are already comfortable and familiar with buying (and often selling) online.
Seller registration and requirements
It’s quite straightforward to start selling: just sign up with your personal details and then you can embark upon opening a shop.
And before you have done that, you cough up a fee of $75 for start-up then a $15 monthly fee to keep the show on the road. There are no sales commissions. You will also be liable to pay a $20 advertising fee which goes towards the online and print advertising costs they incur to keep everything ticking over. So $35 a month basic. There are also one-time listing fees of $0.30 for each item you list for sale. If you sell over 150 items, you get a discount on those listing fees.
They say of merchants on the site:
Ruby Lane holds our shop owners to a very high, ethical, conduct of business. Ruby Lane also may close a shop for being rude or abusive to customers, dishonest, for unprofessional behavior, or if we feel that in our best judgement, leaving a shop open will cause future problems.
– Ruby Lane
Product listings and fulfilment
You will need to make sure that at least 10 items are available for sale in your shop all the time but there is no maximum limit. You must also offer at least one online method of payment in your shop, such as PayPal, or offer a traditional method of payment of a credit card using your own merchant account. They advise that listings include multiple high quality images and also detailed written descriptions.
You fulfil your sales as you deem fit.
Tamebay’s take on Ruby Lane marketplace
What we know about Ruby Lane is that they are strict on listing quality. Merchants there really have to produce quality listings to satisfy the guardians of the buyer experience and there is nothing wrong with that. But we use the term strict advisedly.
Additionally, we hear that it can sometimes be hard to make those fixed fees worthwhile. There may be no commissions, but the upfront costs and the minimum listings can be hard to sustain. But all that said, it looks like Ruby Lane is a worthwhile experiment for Americans who sell in the relevant verticals. Others are best to experiment and approach with circumspection before committing to it too much.
We’d love to hear more from merchants who sell on Ruby Lane. Tell us all about your experiences.