Online retail is maturing and a polarised landscape is emerging.
This seems to favour small companies offering niche products and
services as well as the very largest companies offering everything they
can lay their hands on.
For large companies, the internet offers a channel to a global
marketplace with the associated economies of scale.
In this heavyweight corner there are companies such as Amazon.com, the
US online bookstore. It offers discounts of up to 40% and partner
schemes enabling anyone in the world to sell books on its behalf with
potentially no cash outlay.
In the flyweight corner you can choose any one of 1000 companies selling
their products with a solution created by the US company Via Web.
Yahoo! bought Via Web in June this year for a reported 455,000 shares of
Yahoo! stock - about dollars 50m (pounds 31m). It is now branded as the
It provides the facility for small businesses to sell products and
services on the web and enables their customers to pay online by credit
This is not exceptional; there are many e-commerce solutions
What is unusual is that anyone can do it (in the US) in ten minutes for
a cost of only dollars 100 (pounds 63) a month.
The procedure for setting up a store is clear, quick and simple. I took
the ten-day free trial offer and in 11 minutes created a basic
For the shopper, the experience is just as simple.
The downside is that the service is based in the US and is not open to
international merchants yet.
The procedure for choosing and paying for goods is surprisingly
hassle-free, and despite the fact that this is an off-the-shelf
solution, the ability to customise your own site is almost endless.
With Via Web, e-commerce has truly arrived for the masses.
New Media is edited by Binnur Beyaztas, who can be contacted at
Site: Yahoo! Store
Where to find it: http://store.yahoo.com