October 8, 2009, 12:00 AM

Yahoo is close to selling its Yahoo Store platform, sources say

The Yahoo Store e-commerce platform, which supports 28 of the Internet Retailer Top 500 online retailers, appears to be close to a sale by Yahoo Inc., according to sources familiar with the Yahoo Store operation.

The Yahoo Store e-commerce platform, which supports 28 of the Internet Retailer Top 500 online retailers, appears to be close to a sale by Yahoo Inc., according to sources familiar with the Yahoo Store operation.

A spokeswoman for Yahoo declined to comment on word spreading among the e-commerce community about the pending sale of the Yahoo Store platform, which is known formally as Yahoo Merchant Solutions and is hosted by Yahoo under its Yahoo Small Business unit. Yahoo put the

Yahoo notes that the platform serves more than 50,000 online stores, handling more than $3 billion in e-commerce transactions and 2.7 billion shoppers a year. With 28 of the Top 500 online retailers, it is the most commonly used small-retailer platform and the fourth-largest commercial platform overall retailers listed in the Top 500 Guide. Among vendors of e-commerce platforms listed in the Guide, it follows ATG, GSI Commerce and IBM WebSphere.

Retailers on the Yahoo Store platform contacted by Internet Retailer say they haven’t received any official word from Yahoo about a sale of the platform, but they say it appears to be apparent. “I’ve been phone calls from other vendors bidding on our business,” says Diana Nelson, owner of KazooToys.com, which has operated for years on the Yahoo Store platform.

Scot Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor Corp., which helps retailers link to third-party shopping sites or develop their own sites, says a major challenge for any acquirer of the Yahoo Store platform will be absorbing its technology infrastructure without causing any downtime. “This is a huge operation with lots of moving pieces,” he says.

Nelson notes that the Yahoo Store platform has been reliable except for a much publicized outage for a couple of hours on the day of Thanksgiving in 2007. “In 10 years, we’ve been down only that one time, and that’s not bad,” she says.

Brian Schwank, director of marketing at Rock Bottom Golf, says Yahoo has been upgrading the Yahoo Store platform with technology that, for example, is enabling RockBottomGolf.com to deploy a more user-friendly customer log-in application that will make it easier for shoppers to get order status and enter shipping and billing information. He adds that he has not received information about a sale of the Yahoo Store platform. “I’m not worried about it,” he says.

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