Yahoo rolls out Stores to help upstart businesses sell online

Yahoo on Thursday unveiled a new web service for small businesses looking to sell their goods online.

The Sunnyvale Internet giant is attempting to revamp its offerings to small businesses, this time with a suite of services for upstart retailers that want to start selling online. Yahoo’s small business division, which offers web hosting, domains and basic website templates, has rolled out Yahoo Stores — a new e-commerce platform that lets small business owners create a website and begin selling within minutes. Yahoo Stores is a play for the small retailers that have traditionally flocked to Amazon to sell their products, hoping to leverage the company’s massive e-commerce online audience and shipping and fulfillment services to grow their businesses.

Yahoo Stores is for e-commerce newbies who don’t know much about website design and may not have the time or skills to build their own website. Business owners can create an online storefront using a prepackaged website template, and add descriptions and photos of the items they’re selling. Yahoo facilitates online payments so that sales can happen immediately. The website goes live — on desktop and mobile — within minutes of the business owner signing up.

“Within a minute or two we (are) able to create a store and set up credit card payments,” said Amit Kumar, head of Yahoo Small Business.

Business owners can also sign up to advertise on Facebook, Google and Amazon through Yahoo’s automated online advertising feature that integrates with those sites’ APIs.  Business owners set an advertising budget, but have little control over the advertising itself. Yahoo also has a built-in automated search-engine optimization to help young businesses get attention online.

“You don’t have to know how Google works or set up the account there,” Kumar said.”You don’t have to understand AdWords or all that complex stuff.”

Since the process to start selling online with Yahoo is so quick and automated, it seems an invitation for fraud. Kumar said the site has fraud detection systems that can flag potentially fraudulent sellers, bots and other bad actors, but he declined to be more specific.

Yahoo charges businesses a monthly fee for the service and takes a cut of each transaction, although Kumar declined to say how much. The service will be available to new business owners who sign up with Yahoo, and rolled out to existing Yahoo-run business web sites the coming weeks. Many of the leading e-commerce companies use Yahoo web hosting platforms.

Screenshot of Yahoo Stores courtesy Yahoo

Heather Somerville Heather Somerville (221 Posts)

Heather Somerville is a business reporter covering venture capital and startups for the Bay Area News Group.