Small businesses can now create an online store through Internet portal Yahoo for $US100.
The announcement is an expansion of the services Yahoo offers to help small businesses that want to promote themselves or their merchandise online.
The latest small-business service from Yahoo is in response to competitor Netscape Communication's announcement last June of a similar offering, said Tim Sloane, an analyst at Aberdeen Group in Boston.
"The market has only started to react to this announcement," Sloane said of Netscape's service. And with America Online's recent acquisition of Netscape, the competition among Web browsers seeking to lure small-business customers is more intense.
"They don't know it, but they [small companies] are affected a lot," Sloane said of the role a Web presence can play for a business.
Visibility and accessibility are important factors for online consumers, and, according to Sloane, Web presence promises to be a key to future small-business growth.
"In the next few years the Net will generate $US2 trillion worth of business," he said.
The following are the current small-business services Yahoo offers:
-- Yahoo Site (http://site.yahoo.com) offers businesses a way to create a Website for $US29.95 monthly. Individuals have up to 25MB of storage space and a suite of tracking and reporting tools that provide information on how the site is doing.
-- Yahoo Store (http://store.yahoo.com) allows merchants the ability to create, publish, and manage online stores to market and sell goods for $US100 to $US300 monthly, depending on inventory size.
-- Yahoo Business Express (http://www.yahoo.com/info/suggest/busexpress.html) lists businesses in the main Yahoo directory for a one-time non-refundable fee of $US199. Also offered is a $US500 package providing the store with a one-week promotional text link under "New Featured Stores" in Yahoo Shopping.
-- Yahoo Connected Office (http://connected.clubs.yahoo.com/office) provides communication tools like message boards and chat for no charge. A shared company calendar and customisable business news and information are also provided.
-- Yahoo Small Business (http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com) offers general small-business information, products, and services such as package tracking for Airborne Express, Federal Express and UPS along with industry news and business coverage, tips and weekly highlights for no charge.