November 26, 2007, 12:00 AM

Retailers report extended web site outages on Yahoo Store platform

The e-commerce platform provided by Yahoo Inc.’s Yahoo Merchant Solutions, or Yahoo Store, has experienced outages for several hours today, according to Yahoo and retailers operating on the Yahoo Store platform.

Don Davis

Editor in Chief

The e-commerce platform provided by Yahoo Inc.’s Yahoo Merchant Solutions, or Yahoo Store, has experienced outages for several hours today, the day recognized as the kick-off to the online holiday shopping season, according to Yahoo Inc. and retailers operating on the Yahoo Store platform.

Yahoo says problems with the checkout process started early this morning. In messages posted on its web site for small business clients, Yahoo began noting at 8:31 a.m. Pacific time that “some merchants are reporting that shoppers are receiving an error message indicating ‘system unavailable’ during the checkout process. We are aware of this issue. More information will be provided as it becomes available.”

Yahoo continued to provide updates throughout the day, the latest at 2:08 p.m. Pacific time, when it said it was “continuing to investigate this issue.”

Yahoo released the following statement today in response to a reporter’s inquiry: “Due to heavy holiday traffic on Yahoo-powered merchant stores, some consumers have not been able to complete online transactions. We are aware of the issues and are working towards a solution as quickly as possible.”

Kevin Hickey, vice president of marketing for New Stanton, PA-based OnlineStores.com, which operates several retail web sites on the Yahoo Store platform including EnglishTeaStore.com and United-States-Flag.com, said the order management system on his company’s sites had been down for several hours as of mid-day today. “We are losing about $4,000 an hour in sales,” he says, noting that orders had started to “trickle in” at about 11 a.m. Pacific time. OnlineStores.com, which expects to do about $16 million in online retail sales this year, is No. 378 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide

Hickey says he had heard from others in the retail industry that the outage has been widespread among retailers on the Yahoo Store platform, a point echoed by Diana Nelson, founder of KazooToys.com, based in Denver. Nelson said her site returned to full functionality at mid-day today, but that she’s been unable to tell exactly how long her site was unable to process orders.

Both Hickey and Nelson said that the Yahoo Store platform has been generally reliable up to now for the several years that they’ve operated their sites on it.

In its statement today, Yahoo also said: “Yahoo makes every effort to prevent outages and has a better-than-average record with this issue. We continue to put strategies in place that will minimize the impact that extremely heavy traffic periods have on our merchants. Yahoo!’s relationship with our merchants is extremely important to us and we value their loyalty. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused and we are continuing to put processes in place to prevent further disruptions.”

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