Selling Successfully (Your One-Stop Resource for Setting Up, Managing and Marketing)

Shop Mentoring:Part 1

If you're new to selling online or if you are simply looking for ideas for improving your shop and your sales success, Ruby Lane's free Mentoring program can help. Ruby Lane cannot be successful if our shops are not successful. And there's so much to know when it comes to selling online - we realize it can be overwhelming. In business since 1998, by now thousands of buyers from around the world have shopped with us, so we know what works and what doesn't when it comes to buying and selling online. Whether you're in Preview and still setting up your shop or if your shop is already open, this video will share that knowledge with you.

We will show you the most common issues that new shops tend to overlook in building and managing their shops for optimum success, and how to correct them. If your shop is already open, you can supplement this video by having a Ruby Lane Mentor visit your shop and give you a list of constructive suggestions for improvement within your individual shop. You may contact us to set this up by choosing Help from any page on Ruby Lane. Ruby Lane Mentors are veteran shop owners who serve on our staff, all of whom have years of online sales experience.

Add Inventory Frequently

In order to be successful, shops must add items on a regular basis. Although we realize it isn't always easy, we recommend adding a minimum of 3-5 items a week with a goal of reaching a minimum of 100-200 items. Every time you add new items, your site presence is instantly enhanced as the item appears in Today's Arrivals and This week's Arrivals pages - areas where many shoppers first look, effectively tripling your presence on the site.

Any new addition also earns you free clicks, raising your placement in the Ruby Lane Search. If you then examine your Click Report, you will notice the correlation between adding inventory and traffic. Adding items gives you more exposure on our Lane pages and higher placement in the Ruby Lane search engine, both of which are driven by new items. What's more, it is not only the Ruby Lane search engine that ranks shops with freshly-added inventory higher, but the major search engines such as Google and Yahoo do, as well.

Google and other search engines choose the most recently-updated pages for the highest rankings in search results. You want your shop and item pages to be among them. Even adding a couple of new items per week makes a difference to shop visitors, and new inventory additions are the key to encouraging shoppers to return to see what has come in since their last visit.

Picture Quality

The quality of your item pictures is crucial to your online sales success. Remember that unlike a brick and mortar shop, visitors cannot see or touch the actual item, so they must rely on your presentation of the item when making a buying decision. Blurry, out-of-focus, or dark pictures with unrelated items in the picture or pictures with "busy" or non-contrasting backgrounds will not showcase your item in the best possible light. With the new tool Advanced Image Processing (AIP) you can present quality, professional images with little effort. Take well-lite photos and focused photos with a neutral background and no props, and let AIP do the rest. For more information on AIP visit the Shop Owners section of the FAQ.

If you are new to digital photography, it is worth it to take the necessary time to learn the basics about your camera. Experiment with lighting, distance, and composition.

Here's one last photo tip regarding sets of items. When placed horizontally in a row, sets can make for a narrow photo which results in wasted space. It's much better to arrange a set of items in an angular manner or on different levels such as in these examples. If you have a narrow item such as a pen, we recommend that you photograph it diagonally as in this example, which will allow you to get in closer to the item. You want your photos to be as close to square as possible so the entire item can be seen in a search of Ruby Lane or your shop.

Thumbnail Picture Quality

Be sure not to neglect the quality of your thumbnail images. This is the main item image. Often the first view that a potential shopper will have of any of your items will be in Gallery mode of the thumbnail, possibly scanning hundreds of thumbnail images in a search. So it is vital to have instant eye appeal, something that will make a visitor pause, go back and click through to know more. You can always change which of your pictures is the thumbnail by changing the primary item photo. You want your photos to be as close to square as possible so the entire item can be seen in Ruby Lane thumbnail searches. It is always a good idea to keep the idea of a bright, dynamic thumbnail in mind for photography and listings.

Item Titles

Our research shows that the most successful shops have an average of 7-14 relevant, descriptive keywords in their item titles. If your item titles are longer or shorter than this, we recommend that you consider updating them using the most important and relevant identifying keywords. The search engines only read so far into an item description, so it is important to place important keywords at the beginning of your title. And only so much of the title can be displayed in search results so your titles may be cut off, and missed by those searching.

Appropriate use of descriptive keywords in your titles also improves where your items fall in search results through the search engines and on Ruby Lane, as both look at item titles and catalogs before viewing item descriptions. Item titles lacking keywords fall behind those with useful, descriptive keywords. It is also important to understand that search engines don't purchase items - people do. We highly recommend that you take the time to compose your item titles so that they make sense for both. On the other extreme, it is wise not to allow the title words to become too brief.

As explained, item titles lacking keywords fall far behind those with useful, descriptive keywords. Your goal is to paint an encapsulated word picture for the hurried shopper. Avoid using unnecessary adjectives such as stunning, beautiful, super, and others. These are not keywords and will not help visitors find you in a search on Ruby Lane or the Internet.

You will want to avoid including special characters and unnecessary or incorrect punctuation in your titles, such as question marks, quotation marks, symbols, and other characters. Google is very particular about special characters and incorrect use of punctuation and may not index your item pages as a result.

Well-written Descriptions

Consider this: In a "brick-and-mortar" real-world shop, buyers are able to pick up, turn over, and closely inspect items before they buy. They can FEEL a chip on porcelain that's not easily seen, INSPECT the back of a dresser for a maker's label, and SIT in a rocker to LISTEN for squeaks. If they're looking at old textiles or linen trunks, they may even SMELL the item to check for mold. In short, they use four of our five senses to make a decision: sight, touch, smell, and hearing.

As a new e-commerce shop owner, you are gaining experience loading photos and writing descriptions. But, are you doing everything possible to catch the reader's attention and make them want to own what you're selling? Remember: Buyers only have TWO ways to get the information they need: the description and the photo, both of which are visually oriented. To entice buyers, you need your description to appeal to ALL the senses.

Here are some examples:


Color: "Stunning iridescent shine" Sight
Texture: "Smooth but has bubbles, rough on bottom" Touch
Property: "Makes a tiny rattle sound when lifted" Hearing
Property: "Slight odor of mothballs" Smell