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Easy Does It

1) Point. 2) Click. 3) You've got an online store.

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This story appears in the March 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

It sounds like a late-night infomercial: Go from zero to e-commerce in less than 24 hours! No HTML required! No high-paid Web design firms! Just point and click your way to an online e-commerce presence! Welcome to the wide world of browser-based build-your-own-Net-store services. Keep in mind, this approach works better for product-oriented businesses than service businesses. Essentially, you're putting together your own little Amazon.com. It's good for brick-and-mortar entrepreneurs wanting a quick online presence, but it also works for Net-only start-ups. You get a low overhead Web presence and all your services from one provider. Is a do-it-yourself Web site right for you? I visited three leaders in the arena to figure out what's alluring about them . . . and what's lacking.

Three's A Charm

Yahoo!: Yahoo! Store is advertised on the Yahoo! main page with the tag line "Build an online store in 10 minutes." I decided to try out the free test drive. Within five minutes, I was signed up. In another 10, I had my first two items listed, a picture uploaded and an info page prepared. The interface is intuitive, requiring only a browser to use, and the resulting Web site was easy to navigate and had a professional appearance. Any test site you make here is good for 10 days; after that, you have to switch to a regular account. Users pay a monthly flat rate-$100 for up to 50 items, $300 for up to 1,000 items and $100 for each additional 1,000 items. Credit card processing costs extra.

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