Important Ruby Lane Site Updates

We are excited to let you know of some site updates that are designed to further enhance the shopping experience on Ruby Lane, thus increasing sales throughout the site. It is important to note that these updates have been designed with both shop owners and buyers in mind. Read on for an overview of the updates:

New Look to the Search Results Gallery and List View Pages
In order to stay current with online shopping trends, we have updated the look of the Gallery and List View pages for Ruby Lane Search results. We have streamlined the pages to make them even easier on the eye. Now all item photos display larger than before, and with rounded corners. (Please note that corners will display as square in any version of Internet Explorer 8 or earlier.) We feel the page now has more uniformity and better flow. Unlike our previous Search layout, the new version also displays shop names and a portion of the item title for the Gallery view, which is now the default view.

Optional Square Auto-Crop
We have also added the option for your item thumbnail photos to be automatically cropped to make them appear even larger, and square, when displayed in thumbnail formats on the site (such as search results or in shopping bags). We've been doing this already for the tiny thumbnails on the item pages for the past year. If turned "on" this feature automatically crops the photo to display the top center area of the photo, making it square. This feature is currently optional, and can be turned either on or off for all of your shop items (not individually). You can find the tool for selecting square auto-crop on your Edit Shop Info page.

Square Auto-Crop "on" becomes the default In August 2012
As part of this update, we have set the default to “square auto-crop off” to give shops a choice of whether you would like your items cropped or not cropped. You can choose to do nothing at this time and your items will not be auto-cropped. However in August 2012, the site-wide default will be changed to be "square auto-crop on". If you choose not to have square auto-crop you can go in and turn it off.

Square Auto-Crop Becomes Site-Wide Standard in May 2013
Beginning in May 2013 the option to turn square auto-crop off will no longer be available. All items will be square auto-cropped. Again, photos will be cropped to display the top center area of the photo. After this update square photos will always present best.

Some shops may want to begin to update some of your photos in preparation for this change a year from now. This is an advisory that if you have narrow photos in your shop, either tall or wide, we recommend that you take the next 12 months to tweak or retake them so that they are closer to a square. For long slender items such as pens or a piece of flatware, photographing them at a 45 degree angle is recommended. You can also use the improved picture editing tools on Ruby Lane under Modify Item to make adjustments, and you can re-order your photos choosing a more square-shaped photo as the main photo using drag/drop also on the Modify Item page.

To summarize, you have three choices when selecting square auto-cropping:

1. Do nothing; i.e. make no selection on your Edit Shop Info page. Your photos will display as square auto-crop “off” until August 1st, 2012. After that they will display as square auto-cropping “on”.
2. Select "square auto-crop off" in Edit Shop Info. After May 1st, 2013 it will change to "on".
3. Select "square auto-crop on" in Edit Shop Info. Get the new picture formats now!

We suggest you try out the new look, even if your pictures are not perfectly cropped. Be sure to click "Update", then "View My Shop" after you make your selection and then do a search to see the difference. You should view both the Gallery view and List view to get a complete idea of how it will look. If you don't like the change, you're welcome to go back and turn if "off" and adjust your shop pictures.

Improved Picture Management Tools
We have also updated the Picture Editor tool to allow even more enhancement options when cropping or editing a photo, with no plug-ins needed. And we've added a simpler new drag and drop tool for re-ordering photos. Again, you can use these newly-updated picture tools to make the necessary adjustments for optimum auto-cropping display and really make your item photos pop.

Why Are We Making These Changes?
This type of auto-cropping is becoming a standard for many e-commerce sites as it lends an artistic look to the photo. Research shows that uniform-looking search results lead to increased visual retention, easier scanning of the page, and an overall improved shopping experience. With more detail viewable, items become much more inviting to prospective buyers. We are aware that some items will not be cropped ideally until they are manually edited by you.

New “Item Suggestion Feature” Added to the SOLD Shop
We are adding a new feature to the Ruby Lane Sold Shop that suggests similar items currently available for sale that the viewer may be interested in for purchase. This has the potential to turn those browsing for research purposes - into buyers. Each time the viewer searches the Sold shop, suggested similar items are presented at the top of the page.

New “Item Suggestion Page” for Items In Newsletters That Have Sold
As many of you have noticed, last year we updated the format of our newsletters to make them much more shopping and item focused. Our statistics show that these items indeed sell! So now when a buyer clicks on an item in the newsletter that has already Sold or is Sale Pending, buyers see a message that the item is no longer available, plus a search page that automatically suggests similar items currently offered on Ruby Lane.

Why Have We Added This New Feature?
Again, Ruby Lane's overall goal is to promote and encourage the sale of items. Shop owners are our customers – and so are buyers. A potential buyer who succeeds in finding the type of item they are looking for is a “win-win” for everyone. If an item in your shop is featured in a newsletter (a free service) and has sold, if you have other, similar items for sale in your shop it is highly likely that those items will be among the suggestions automatically offered on the Search page when a buyer clicks on it. Please note that items are randomly chosen for newsletters by Ruby Lane staff based on the theme(s) of each newsletter, as well as the quality of each item and photo.

Preview Group of Shops
Before launching these updates we asked a test group of shop owners to preview them for us, and give us their candid feedback. We did indeed make a significant number of changes based on the excellent, thoughtful shop suggestions we received. We want to thank all shops who participated in the preview.

We're excited about these new updates, and we hope you are, too. While change is not always easy, we at Ruby Lane feel that updates such as these are a necessary part of delivering a dynamic, ever-evolving e-commerce site.

As always, if you have questions, or if we can be of assistance at any time, we invite you to contact Ruby Lane Customer Support.

Team Ruby Lane

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