Practical Ecommerce

The PeC Review: Yahoo! Alerts Can Send You Text Messages

While there are many online tools that can help ecommerce proprietors keep track of their businesses’ reputations and reviews, Yahoo! Alerts, a free notification service, is one of the few that can send those alerts as text messages to a mobile phone, or via Yahoo! Messenger, as a standard feature.

Four Stars While there are certainly a large number of ecommerce business people working full time in online retail, many other online businesses start as part-time, family affairs or as multichannel operations. Yahoo! Alerts SMS (short message service, i.e. text messages) capability is especially helpful for these kinds of businesses.

Imagine a multichannel video game retailer that sells used Wii, PlayStation 3, and X-Box 360 games through an online store, via eBay, and in a brick-and-mortar shop. Watching a computer all day and keeping tabs on what consumers are saying about your various channels is not really an option, but what if you could get a text message on your mobile phone, when a consumer complained about one of your outlets on a bulletin board? That sort of alert could give you an opportunity to quickly respond or fix a problem before your business’s reputation was damaged. And that is just the sort of thing that Yahoo! Alerts can do.

Each week, The PeC Review looks at products and services that could help an online merchant. Our goal is to both rate and identify those products. This week, I took a look at Yahoo! Alerts and I was generally pleased with the product, awarding it four out of a possible five stars for its simple-to-understand and easy-to-use interface and its standard text messaging feature, which I really liked. But I wish that Yahoo! Alerts also offered an RSS feed alert option, too.

Video: Establishing Yahoo! Alerts

Messages on My Mobile Phone

Yahoo! Alerts’ ability to send text messages to virtually any mobile device is far and away the service’s best feature. I set up alerts for my name and several of my businesses. So even if I am away from my computer, I’m notiified when others are writing or talking about me and mine. The service also supports multiple mobile devices, so if I have a particular phone for one of my businesses, I can send one alert to it and send other alerts to completely separate mobile devices.

Alert Quality

I use several different alert services, and with Yahoo! Alerts, I tend to get more local or regional results that were overlooked in other services. For me, this is actually a sign that Yahoo! is doing a good job of scouring the web for the data it provides via alerts.

No RSS Feed

I am a huge fan of RSS. I like it because I can receive it in my favorite feed reader, parse it for websites, and generally manipulate it. And Yahoo! offers an almost endless number of ways to get great and valuable RSS feeds from several sections on its web portal. But oddly, the company did not include RSS as an option for Yahoo! Alerts.

Perhaps, Yahoo! figured that since it had RSS feeds covered in other areas of the site, it didn’t need them in Alerts. Or maybe the staff of Yahoo! just didn’t think of it. I don’t know, but I really wish they had an option for getting my alert information via a feed. That way, I could manage all of my Yahoo!-driven data (feeds, emails, and SMS) from one dashboard.

Summing Up

The Yahoo! Alerts service is a great way to stay abreast of how others are talking about your business or even getting the latest headlines from Practical eCommerce. I was especially enamored with the service’s SMS capability, which is one of the main reasons that I gave it four out of a possible five stars in this review. But I really wished that some of Yahoo!’s robust RSS options were also available from Alerts’ interface.

Armando Roggio

Armando Roggio

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