How do I open my store for business?

This document will outline the steps necessary to complete the Open for Business process. The Open for Business process is defined as the steps required to prepare your store to open for business as outlined in the Open for Business control panel. Several recommended steps will also appear that are not required to submit the form but should be completed by merchants before opening for business.

Not all aspects of building, managing and promoting your store are covered in this document. To get in-depth information on building, managing and promoting your store, consult the Online Help.

You can print this document and check off items as you complete them, or you can follow along while reading online. Items outlined in this document will be marked in two ways:

  • Required - items marked required must be completed in order to complete the Open for Business Form.
  • Recommended - items marked recommended are not required to complete the Open for Business Form but will aid the merchant in being more successful upon opening.

Opening for Business

This outline has been designed to be used in conjunction with the Open for Business control panel. Merchants can access the Open for Business control panel by signing into their account; merchants with more than one Small Business service will need to click the Store Manager link for the Store they wish to access.

Open for Business control panel when no steps are completed
Figure 1: Open for Business control panel when no steps are completed.

The Open for Business control panel is your guide to completing the tasks necessary to open for business. You will use the links to access the tools needed to complete the tasks. As you meet the requirements for each task, the Open for Business control panel will update to show the status of each task and whether it is complete, progress messages for the tasks you have completed, and also which task we recommend you complete next. All tasks must be completed in order to open your store for business, but you can complete the tasks in any order.

Before You Begin (recommended)

While you can choose to jump right into the tasks needed to open for business, you may wish to consider the following before you start:

  • Research competitors: Search on Yahoo using keywords that you believe would be associated with your products. What types of sites appear in the results? Are any of these sites competitors? What are these sites doing right and wrong? What type of language is used on each site? Would similar language appeal to your target buyers? How are the products priced? Do they offer bulk discounts, free shipping, or other pricing strategies that would work for your business?The more of these questions you can answer before you begin building, the more likely it is that your business will get off to a good start.
  • Plan before you build: Start to plan how products will be grouped on your site and what information will appear on each page. If you are only starting with a few products then you may not need a detailed plan. If your store will contain hundreds of products, then you should know which products will appear on which section pages and how those section pages will appear in your navigation bar (link menu) and on your home page.

Design Your Site (required)

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Time to complete    30 minutes or more    Design is really an ongoing process. If you have a design in mind, you can use the Design Wizard to select a starting design and then use the Variables page in the Store Editor to customize colors for your text, navigation buttons, and other elements if you do not like the settings from the Design Wizard.If you need some inspiration, browse for sites in the same or similar market to your store. What elements of their design work? What elements don't work? Use those sites as guidance to how your site can look.Keep in mind though that you can start with a very basic design to open your store. Then, after focusing your attention on adding products and promoting your site, you can always revisit your site design later.Create your item/product pages—Your store needs to have at least a few products in order to open for business.To create item pages, use the Add Product Wizard. You can also consult the following help:
  • Store Editor
  • Yahoo SiteBuilder—consult the help within the application. You will need to use Catalog Manager to enter your products prior to importing your catalog and building pages.
  • Dreamweaver—consult the help within the application accessible from the Yahoo menu after downloading the Merchant Solutions extension for Dreamweaver. You will need to use Catalog Manager to enter your products prior to importing your catalog and building pages.
  • Other HTML tool—consult the help within the application. You will need to use Catalog Manager to enter your products prior to using Store Tags to build pages.
Create your Info and Privacy Policy pages—Using the publishing method you selected after reading the Publishing Options document listed above you must:
Required materials    Company logoCompany colorsStore policy text    If you have a company logo, you can pick colors for your site based on the colors of your logo. If you do not have one, you may wish to consider hiring a graphic designer to create one for you. Do you have any company brochures or letterhead? If so, you can use any colors you may have chosen for those.
Goal of this task Design and publish your site This task will be marked as complete when you complete the Design Wizard.* Don't worry about publishing your site before you have added products or completed the other steps as shoppers will not be able to purchase from your store until you open for business.Remember: It is better to get open and start selling, and giving search engines a chance to find your site, than to keep your store under construction for months trying to perfect the design. 

*Note: If you are building using your own tools and your Web Hosting portion of your account, you will need to click the link for building using your own tools on the Design Your Site Introduction page, and then select the check box to indicate you will build using your own tools. To access te Web Hosting portion of your Mercant Solutions account, click the Manage My Services button appearing in the top of the page and then select the Web Hosting control panel link.

Yahoo can also offer you the time-savings, expertise and convenience of our Yahoo Merchant Solutions Developer Network - a group of professional web designers and developers who have expertise in designing and building Yahoo Merchant Solutions sites.

Developers will help you to:

  • Save time - Frees you from spending time on designing, building and testing a site so you can get to doing what you do best - managing your business.
  • Start selling more quickly - Use the experts in the Designer Directory to get your store built quickly so customers can start buying from you without delay.
  • Express yourself online (be unique) - The Designer Directory experts will work with you to build your site the way you want it.
  • Have more confidence - Be confident that your site will look professional, etc. The Designer Directory professionals have built over 1500 Yahoo stores.
  • Help gain more customers - Leverage knowledge to help rank higher in search engines so your prospective customers can find you.

 

More Design Help

Add Your Products (required)

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Time to complete    Depends on number of products added Consider adding your top products only to start. You can always add more later. To start, add the name, image, description (including product keywords) price, sale price, and any product options.

You can always return to edit product description and pricing, or change product images.

Required materials    Product imagesProduct descriptionsOther product data (price, options) Product images are critical to selling products online. If you are selling unique or custom products, you may need to take your own product photos. If you are selling goods from a manufacturer or supplier, you may be able to request stock photos from the supplier.

Product descriptions should contain enough information to answer buyer questions about the product. Your descriptions should also have keywords and keyphrases about the product for which you would want the page to be found in search engines.

Also, you will need to add other product information such as a price and sales price (if applicable). If your product has options such as size or color, those will need to be added as options for buyers to select.

Goal of this task    Add at least one product You only need to add one orderable product to open for business, though you may have many more. Consider only adding your best selling products (or what you believe will be your top sellers). You can always continue to add products after opening for business.

More Add Product Help

Set up Payment Processing (required)

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Time to complete    PayPal signup and setup—   20 minutesMerchant Account—one-three business days PayPal is a good choice for many merchants just starting with an online store. You can set up an account very quickly. Merchants can also choose to set up PayPal while they are waiting for approval on a merchant bank account.

Merchant accounts allow you to offer credit card payment options directly on your site.

Required materials    PayPal—name, address, email,   and bank account informationMerchant Account—name, address, banking account information, and store information. The PayPal Signup process is very quick to complete. PayPal requires some personal and banking information to register and verify your account.

For security reasons, the approval process for merchant accounts is more involved, requires significant personal and business information, and takes longer to process. Merchants that wish to open sooner can sign up for or enable a PayPal Business account to accept PayPal while waiting for approval of a merchant account.

Merchants can choose to sign up for PayPal Payments Pro, the Yahoo preferred merchant account provider, for Bank of America Merchant Services, or use any merchant account that is compatible with the FDMS Nashville platform.

Goal of this task You must set up either an online payment option or provide information for your offline payment option. Merchants can choose to use an online payment processing option (PayPal, Bank of America Merchant Services, or an FDMS compatible merchant account) to process orders online.

Merchants can also choose to process transactions offline through another system. In order to process transactions offline, you must provide your merchant bank name, bank phone number, and account number for verification purposes.

More Payment Processing Help

Set up Tax Rates (strongly recommended)

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Time to complete    Depends on number of   tax rates; about 2 minutes per tax rate You can use the Auto Tax Setup Wizard to select states for which you need to collect sales tax. This will set up a default rate. You can then edit these default rates if necessary, or set up additional tax rates by zip code if you need to add a supplemental rate to the base rate for the state for certain counties.
Required materials    Knowledge of taxes your   business will need to collect You can consult the Sales Tax Clearing House web site (http://thestc.com/ta.cgi?STRates) that has links to the tax agencies for all states where you can look up the most current information about when you will need to charge tax based on where you are doing business and to where you are shipping goods.
Goal of this task    Set up one or more tax rates to be added during checkout, or choose to use the default setting where tax is added after the order. You have the option of setting up your tax rates so they are calculated at the time of the order, or adding any tax after receiving the order. While Yahoo does permit you to skip setting up tax rates to open for business, we highly recommend merchants set up tax rates to calculate at the time the order is placed. Buyers that see one total for their order at checkout, and see a higher charge (if you added tax after the order is received) will at best call to ask why, or at worst submit a chargeback to their credit card, costing you extra fees and a lost sale.

Note: If you have set up tax rates, but you do not see tax charges applied correctly when placing a test order, check that you have your tax rates set to calculate in real-time; you can select this setting on the Tax Rates page below your tax rules table.

More Tax Rate Help

Set up Shipping (strongly recommended)

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Time to complete    Depends on the number    of shipping rates; about 5 minutes per rate When setting up shipping rules, you can use the default methods (Air and Ground) and create rates based on order total, weight, percentage, flat rate, or UPS real-time rates for those methods.

If you know you will use a specific carrier, you can create shipping methods specific to that carrier, or you can create generic shipping methods such as ground, next day air, and 2nd day air and choose the carrier with the lowest rate.

Required materials    A sense of how much you will charge for shipping and which methods (Air, Ground, FedEx, UPS) you'll offer to buyers. If you are new to shipping goods, you may wish to visit your local post office or commercial mail center to determine what shipping rates will be for packages of a certain weight and size (if bulky). If you typically ship items with similar shipping costs, you can set up rules to charge a flat rate per item or per order.

You can also remove much of the guess work with shipping costs by using the Yahoo preferred shipping provider, UPS. Yahoo has integrated with UPS to offer real-time rates and services that buyers can review in the shopping cart before checking out. Merchants can also print UPS labels or even use the UPS WorldShip software. Read more.

Goal of this task    Set up at least one shipping method and the rate for that method or choose to add shipping charges after taking orders (not during checkout) You have the option of setting up your shipping rules so they are calculated at the time of the order, or adding any shipping costs after receiving the order. While Yahoo does permit you to skip setting up shipping rules to open for business, we highly recommend merchants set up shipping rates to calculate at the time the order is placed. Buyers that see one total for their order at checkout, and see a higher charge (if you added shipping costs after the order is received) will at best call to ask why, or at worst submit a chargeback to their credit card, costing you extra fees and a lost sale.

Note: If you have set up shipping methods and rates, but you do not see shipping charges applied correctly when placing a test order, check that you have your Shipping Settings set to calculate in real-time.

More Help on Shipping Metods and Rates

Placing a Test Order (recommended)

Yahoo recommends placing at least one test order in your store before you open for business. Placing a test order allows you to test whether or not you have set up tax, shipping, and payment options correctly in your store. A test order also provides an opportunity to see how a real order will appear in your Order Manager for you to review before processing. You may also wish to try using your credit card but change the shipping or billing data to see how AVS and CVV responses appear if you have online processing enabled through a merchant account.

Remember to cancel any test orders or these will be added to real orders when calculating your transaction fee charges. 

Opening for Business

Open for Business control panel showing all tasks complete
Figure 2: Open for Business control panel showing all tasks complete.

 

Once you have completed the open for business tasks (and optionally placed a test order) you can officially open your store for business by clicking on the Open for Business button. Shoppers will now be able to check out on your store. You will also start using the Store Manager interface to perform all store functions.

Track and Revise (Recommended)

Opening your store for business is merely the first step in an ongoing process of building a successful online store. You need to continually track and improve your store early on to quickly build repeat customers.

Further Resources


Building your store

Store Editor

Basic Editing - changing page layout, using variables, rearranging buttons, setting options and more
Yahoo SiteBuilder -View the help within the application
Dreamweaver -View the help available within the application after downloading and installing the Merchant Solutions extension by selecting the help command from the Yahoo menu.

 

Managing your store

Store Manager

Order Settings - setting up payment methods, and inventory settings
Checkout & Registration Manager - customizing your checkout pages using Checkout & Registration Manager
Site Settings - setting preferences, granting access to store, password protection
Statistics - understanding, viewing and troubleshooting statistics
Orders - viewing orders, setting up online payment processing, finding a merchant account provider
Order Processing Guide - learn about applying for a new or setting up an existing merchant account, place a test order and then view the order in the Order Manager, process the sale of a test order, void the sale, submit a batch with the transaction, and issue a credit
Retrieving orders - emailing, faxing, printing and exporting orders, advanced order options
Shipping - setting up shipping methods, rates and options
Risk Tools - using AVS and CVV settings

 

Promoting your Store

Promote

 

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