Practical Ecommerce

Cart of the Week: Yahoo!

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.

ALT 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, 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

ALT 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.

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Brendan Gibbons

Brendan Gibbons

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  1. larsomatic December 16, 2008 Reply

    We have been using Yahoo Store (Yahoo Merchant Solutions) since 1998.

    The the 10 years that we have been with them, we only experienced one outage that we are aware of. And that was over the period of a single day. That’s pretty good uptime for a hosted solution!

    They have an extremely secure system for keeping credit card numbers, with two layers of password protection. And they delete card numbers automatically after 30 days, which protects you from big losses in the unlikely event that someone bad were ever to steal your passwords and get into your store.

    Our Yahoo Store is extremely search engine friendly, and appears on the front page of Google for many, many keywords that are important to us.

    We have a multi-million dollar a year business, so our cart is obviously important to us. We are constantly evaluating other options, and haven’t seen anything that’s so great it would be worth switching.

    Yahoo Store also has more sites in the Internet Retailer Top 500 retailers than any other hosted ecommerce solution.

    I didn’t know that until I attended an Internet Retailer trade show. I was thinking that maybe we were going to outgrow Yahoo Store, but I realized after looking at the other options, that they were just as good and often a lot less expensive. Some of those big hosted solutions costs $10K a month.

    I don’t mean to sound like a shill for Yahoo. I honestly think they’re great.

    I read your cart reviews all the time because I’m on your email newsletter list. I just thought it might be helpful to comment when I saw this one, since I have 10 years of experience using it.

    Hope that’s helpful for anyone evaluating them!

  2. frank65l December 16, 2008 Reply

    First: Can you make a list of these 300 shopping carts, i cant find even a fraction of that on this site.
    Second: Every time i want to leave a comment, i have to sign up again, as my user and password does not work.
    Last: As a yahoo store user for almost 3 years, i have a lot more problems than larsomatic. rtml is a nightmare to learn and use, No help from Yahoo for it. My site has been down a lot more than larsomatic’s. Some functions inside of my store, like promo email, does not work. customer service is slow or can not solve my problems. The cost for custom website design from yahoo partners is extremely expensive. I am glad larsomatic has had good luck with them, Other than the problems i have had, they are very good in every other way.

  3. Roberto Trigo December 17, 2008 Reply

    I’ve been a Yahoo! fan for years and have successfully set up three websites and stores using the Yahoo tools. I’ve found it a good way for someone who is starting small to get set up without having to know HTML. The only issue I’ve had was caused by having the Google Web Accelerator running while using Yahoo Sitebuilder….and the Yahoo service people were able to quickly diagnose that and give me a simple fix…