In a bid to revamp its e-commerce platform, Yahoo has launched Stores, in order to to help small businesses create their online stores and increase their digital presence. Building on 16 years of helping small businesses, Stores is a culmination of Yahoo's experience with those clients.
"For most retailers, an online store is crucial, but getting it started is an arduous task that can take weeks. With Yahoo Stores, you can have an online store up-and-running and accepting orders in less than a couple of minutes," Amit Kumar, Head of Yahoo Small Business, wrote in a blog post.
"Our platform offers a seamless payment processing experience that is automatically PCI compliant, connecting you directly with a payment service provider in just a few clicks."
The new platform is supposed to make it easier to create a website with a feature called Themes, which will include designs and style guides, that "go beyond templates to automatically respond and adapt across mobile phones, tablets and desktop." Coinciding with that is a new editing process as well, one that allows changes to be made to a website with previews.
"You don’t need to be technical or know html to make easy edits — change titles, pictures, descriptions and more with no second guessing," said Kumar.
In addition, small business owners will also be able access real-time analytics for both Web, and mobile, and will be able to manage the site from anywhere.
Finally, Yahoo will be helping stores gain more traffic by providing automatic SEO, giving them "the same serving technology used on Yahoo.com," including relevant keywords in your website URLs, concise descriptions of the website’s content and more.
Yahoo is also helping out by providing a product catalog schema and tools for merchants to organize and promote their products, as well as apps such as Retargeting, Live Sales, Localworks, Google Shopping, Cinsay, T-Hub Online, Justuno Social Bribery and Olark.
Obviously Yahoo is not the only site that offers features and products aimed at small businesses. Other similar small business solutions include Amazon, UPS and HP.
Amazon Webstore is an online store builder that comes with pre-built templates and widgets, a drag and drop interface, and tools to project revenue based on the number of orders per month, the average value of an order and fees.
UPS's Small Business Solutions, through a partnership with SCORE, provides professional printing services, business mailboxes, and direct mail services. And, through its Just Right IT solution, HP offers small businesses technology products and solutions including storage, servers and networking.
There is also Homestead, a provider of Website creation, marketing and hosting business. The company helps small businesses establish their presence on the Web, maintain and promote their site, and sell or market their products and services. It was purchased by Intuit for $170 million back in 2007.
While all of those solutions are helpful for small businesses to maintain their online presence, What Yahoo is doing is simplifying the process of those businesses creating their online stores in the first place.
Yahoo e-commerce history
Stores seems mostly like to be a replacement for Yahoo's Merchant Solutions, which has been around since 1998, and provides a site design wizard, PayPal processing, inventory-management features, and 24-hour in-house support.
But, as Kumar, said, the platform was not keeping up with the times. Still, all those years were not for nothing.
"Yahoo Small Business took the best of everything we’ve learned from our million+ customers over the past 16 years, and applied it to Yahoo Stores to give small business owners a more powerful, Tstreamlined and beautiful way to turn their ideas into a business," Kumar said,
So where it go from here? It goes international, Kumar said in an interview with Silicon Valley Business Journal back in June.
"Yahoo Small Business is not yet international. And obviously, we're Yahoo, we're a somewhat international company. So there's a huge opportunity to grow internationally once we're ready for that. We're really only scratching the surface now," he said.
"We're expecting to start expanding internationally this year, so it's very exciting to see what will happen once we do. Is it a 10x opportunity? Is it 100x? I don't know, but obviously it's an order of magnitude."
You can check out this video Yahoo made about Stores below:
(Image source: smallbusiness.yahoo.com)