Practical eCommerce counts over 300 different shopping cart platforms. In this ongoing “Cart of the Week” feature, we profile—but not evaluate—a specific shopping cart, asking about its strengths and weaknesses.
For this installment, we asked Paul Boisvert, Product Manager at Yahoo! Small Business to explain the benefits of his company’s cart. We then asked Maia Haag for her evaluation of it. Haag is president of Iseeme.com, a Minnesota-based retailer of personalized children’s gifts and a customer of Yahoo!’s cart.
PeC: Please provide some general background on the cart.
Boisvert: Yahoo! Merchant Solutions is a fully hosted ecommerce solution that provides merchants with the tools to build, manage and promote their store. Yahoo! has been helping small and medium-sized retailers build successful stores since 1998. Today Yahoo! hosts over 45,000 small and medium-sized online stores and hosts more Internet Retailer top 500 stores than any other hosted platform.
Yahoo! offers three tiers of pricing starting at $39.95 for our Merchant Starter package, $129.95 for Merchant Standard to $299.95 for our Merchant Professional offering. Yahoo! also charges a transaction fee based on completed transactions.
PeC: What are the cart’s biggest strengths?
Boisvert: Yahoo! allows customers to manage up to 50,000 products, use unlimited disk space and bandwidth and utilize robust content management to create search-engine friendly static HTML pages. It includes a completely customizable checkout process and integration support for real-time inventory, tax and shipping and order exports.
Some of the biggest strengths come from being part of Yahoo! We can roll out features and take advantage of network infrastructure enhancements that smaller vendors may not be able to match. A few examples of this include our cross-sell recommendation engine that was first deployed for Yahoo! Shopping. It data-mines order history and customer viewing behavior to determine the best product recommendations for product pages and in the cart page. Also, the purchase of Indextools, rebranded as Yahoo! Web Analytics, allows us to offer a turn-key enterprise-level analytics solution and Yahoo!-monitored redundant data centers allow for 99.9% uptime. The use of Akamai and Yahoo! Content Delivery Network allows for geo-serving content from the closest server.
PeC: What are some of its weaknesses?
Boisvert: In the eyes of some people, Yahoo!’s use of RTML, the proprietary template language for Yahoo! stores, is not a benefit, because it is proprietary and isn’t as accessible as more common web development languages. However, RTML is a very powerful programming language that can do amazing things for merchants who learn the ins and outs of it.
PeC: Any other thoughts for our readers?
Boisvert: Our revised Open for Business process, consisting of a set of step-by-step wizards, makes it easy for new merchants just starting an online business to complete the steps needed to get their business online and start to generate traffic to their store.
A Customer’s View
Maia Haag, President of I See Me, Inc. (a Yahoo! client) offers her thoughts on the cart.
PeC: What are Yahoo! Merchant Solution’s biggest strengths?
Haag: Yahoo! Merchant Solution’s checkout is easy for customers to use. It provides the ability for customers to redeem coupon codes and gift certificates, and it’s easy for us to change the design and layout using their checkout manager tools. We also appreciate the fact that Yahoo! has enabled PayPal to be implemented so easily as a payment method. And Yahoo! has just updated its cross-sell tools to make this tool even more effective.
PeC: What are some things it could improve?
Haag: Our customers regularly ask us if they can send items to multiple shipping addresses within one order. That is not possible with Yahoo! Merchant Solution’s cart.
PeC: How specifically would using Yahoo! improve a merchant’s business?
Haag: Yahoo! saves time and money for merchants by making it easy for them to create a store without knowing HTML programming. It is easy to update the store as a merchant adds new products. And we have found Yahoo!’s servers to be very consistent. We don’t ever have to worry about our store going down.
PeC: What are your plans for future cart development? Do you plan to change carts at some point?
Haag: The only thing that is making us look at other cart options is the fact that Yahoo!’s cart does not allow our customers to ship items to multiple addresses within the same order. If it weren’t for that issue, we would be extremely satisfied with Yahoo!’s cart.