The major search engines offer you a lot more these days than simply a chance to list your Web address. Most of them have their own minishopping areas, where your company's Web site can be listed. When a cybershopper clicks on a particular category, he or she is sent directly to your store. These areas are similar to cybermalls, which are searchable by category and are designed as ways for Web shopkeepers to increase their traffic.
While most search engine directories offer links to larger online companies--including 1-800-FLOWERS or Barnes & Noble's online bookstore--Yahoo! keeps your shopping experience close to home. The engine recently acquired e-commerce vendor Viaweb and now hosts the small-company-oriented mall, renamed Yahoo! Store (http://www.viamall.com). Visitors are presented with a list of sites organized by category, including health and beauty aids, apparel, electronics and automobiles. It's relatively easy to get listed in the store; you just use Yahoo's e-commerce software to build a Web page advertising your store, which comes with an automatic listing on Yahoo! and the other major search engines. Yahoo! Store shopkeepers pay a flat rate that's determined by the size of their sites. A small store that has up to 50 items for sale, for example, costs $100 a month.
Melissa Campanelli is a technology writer in Brooklyn, New York, who has covered technology for Mobile Computing & Communications and Sales & Marketing Management magazines. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.