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Chapter 15
Creating the Home and
Section Pages
ime to get down to work. Now that you understand how to get around in Store Editor and
use the Editor toolbar, you can get started setting up the Home page and section pages. The
Home page is your store’s “front” page; the section pages are product category pages. You’ll
learn in “Creating and Editing Section Pages” later in this chapter, how to create pages for
various other purposes by creating section pages.
You’re going to learn how to use HTML in message fields, a very important technique that,
as you saw in the previous chapter, can make your store stand out. You’ll also learn how to
add, remove, and move components on the Home page, how to create a product “special” on
the Home page, how to place products onto a section page, and how to move products between
sections. By the time you finish this chapter, you should have a good feel for how to create pages
within Store Editor; in the following chapters, you’ll learn much more about how to define what
sort of information is placed onto them and what the pages actually look like—the page design.
Setting Up the Home Page
Let’s begin working in Store Editor by setting up the Home page. When you first open Store
Editor, you’ll be in the Home page; if you’ve moved around, you can get back there by clicking
the Home button on the navbar. Then click the Edit button on the Editor toolbar. The page you
can see in Figure 15-1 opens.
Look in your browser’s Address or URL bar; do you see /index.html at the end? If so, you’re
definitely in the Home page. If not—if you see a scramble of letters, such as CMIqwAAC—
you could still be on the Home page; in some circumstances Merchant Solutions doesn’t show
the index.html filename. Is there a Home button at the top of the navbar? If not, you’re in the
Home page.
Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. Click here for terms of use.
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A typical Store Editor Edit page
The “Help” text under fields in the Edit pages is usually ambiguous and sometimes
plain wrong! Stick with the field descriptions in this book.
This is a typical Edit page. You’ll see a lot of these while working in Store Editor. Wherever
you’re modifying a page, you’ll see something similar to this; fields will vary, but essentially the
pages all use the same sort of layout. Table 15-1 explains what the fields are when working in the
Home page.
You can see the effect of most of the settings in this Edit page in Figure 15-2.
Remember, the Variables page is used to control settings throughout the store and is explained
in Chapter 17.
CHAPTER 15: Creating the Home and Section Pages
Every page, as you saw with products earlier, has a unique ID. In this case
Merchant Solutions has provided the ID.
The Types and Templates pages are advanced features that allow you to create
completely new page designs. We do not cover this subject as it’s really a “relic”
from an earlier version; if you need more design control you probably should be
working with SiteBuilder, Dreamweaver, or some other kind of HTML tool.
This is the main block of text that appears on the Home page. You can place HTML
in here. See the “Using HTML in the Message and Other Text Fields” section for
more information.
This is the text that appears in the browser’s Title bar when the page is displayed.
(If you know HTML, you may know that this is the <TITLE></TITLE> text.) To
help the search engines index your site, make sure you use good keywords here,
rather than just your company name. See Chapter 26 for more information.
The list of sections (categories) and products that will be included on the navbar;
each item has its own button. Some of these entries are put there automatically;
when you click the Section or Item button on the Editor toolbar, for instance, you
create a section or product page. The system puts a button onto the navbar for you
(and thus places the appropriate section or product name in the Contents text box).
This setting controls which page elements will be displayed on the Home page
and where each element will sit. The elements include items such as the Message
and Image that you define in this Edit page, along with other items, such as a
search box and an address block, which are created elsewhere. See Chapter 17 for
information on how to use this tool.
You can upload an image onto the Home page if you wish; click the Upload button.
A special is a section or product that you want to feature on the Home page. Simply
type the ID of the section or product into this box, and information about that section
or product will be placed onto the page. See “Making a Product or Section a ‘Special’”
later in this chapter for more information.
This controls the format of the picture that you upload on the Image line. Left
reduces the image in size and places it to the left of the text, wrapping the text
around it to the right; select Banner and the image is shown above the text, larger,
but constrained to the width of the text below it; select Unconstrained and the
image is shown full size above the text.
This line is where you define which buttons will be shown in the navbar on the
Home page. We’ll cover this later in a discussion about different ways to modify
the navbar throughout the site; see Chapter 17.
If you enter specials in the Specials box, Specials-format defines how they will be
This field defines what information is pulled in from a product or section that you
have entered into the Contents box. In other words, when information about a
product or section is displayed on the Home page, this is where that information
comes from. See Chapter 17 for more information.
TABLE 15-1
The Fields Available While Working in the Home Page
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The manner in which the product or section information is formatted; see Chapter 17.
The number of columns of information shown on the page.
Another block of text you can place onto the Home page; by default it’s not used,
but you can add it using the Page-elements control. You can also use HTML in this
box. (See the “Using HTML in the Message and Other Text Fields” section that
TABLE 15-1
The Fields Available While Working in the Home Page (cont.)
The Page-title
The Editor
These buttons
controlled by
the Contents
text box
The site’s title,
entered into the
Variables page
Order and
number of the
buttons that
appear here
controlled by
the Buttons
The Message
Placed on the
page by the
Specials text
The Addressphone field
from the
Variables page
Final-text; not entered in the
Home page’s Edit page, rather
into the Variables page; must be
listed on the Page-elements line
Image; size and position
set by the Image-format
line (here set to Left)
The Home page elements
The Intro-text; doesn’t
appear unless it’s listed on
the Page-elements line
CHAPTER 15: Creating the Home and Section Pages
Using HTML in the Message and Other Text Fields
You can place HTML text into a variety of fields in the Store Editor’s Edit pages. In the Home
page’s Edit page, you can place HTML into the Message and Intro-text fields. This is very
important because it allows you to do many things. You’re not limited to having just plain old
text on your pages; you can do anything that can be done with HTML.
HTML means HyperText Markup Language, and it’s the coding used to create web pages.
In your browser, select View | View Source, and you’ll see the code used to build the current
web page. You can use it to modify the text in your store pages. For instance, enclosing text
with <b> and </b> makes it bold. If you know HTML you can use it to format text, create
tables, insert images, and more, in the Caption and Abstract fields.
Using HTML, you could do the following:
■ Drop an image into the page by pulling it from another web site. For instance, the
following tag drops a picture into the page by pulling it from another web site or from
a special directory you create in your store, in this case from
<img src=" jpg">
(We’ll explain this in more detail under “Working with Images and HTML” later in this
When you press ENTER after typing text into a text box that allows HTML, Merchant
Solutions automatically enters a <br> tag, the line-break tag.
■ You can format text in many ways: bold, italic, underlines, different colors, different
fonts, different sizes, and so on.
You can format paragraphs anyway you wish: left, right, justified, and so on.
You can create tables.
You can insert Flash animation files.
You can create bulleted or numbered lists.
Many store owners choose not to use most of the fields in the Home page. Instead, the only
thing they place into the content area of the page is the Message, in which they put HTML,
laying out the page exactly the way they want. To find out how to remove elements using the
Page-elements line, see Chapter 17.
Anything you can do with HTML, you can place into your text boxes and, therefore, display
on your pages (see Figure 15-3).
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Placing HTML in text boxes allows you to format the content of your pages.
How about products? If you import your products, how do you handle HTML fields? Just
drop the HTML straight into the appropriate fields in your database or spreadsheet. When
creating product data files, you can use HTML in the Caption and Abstract fields.
This can’t be stressed enough; the ability to use HTML in the text fields provides tremendous
design power, allowing you to dramatically change the look of your site. You can create your
blocks of HTML in an HTML editor, then copy and paste them into Merchant Solutions.
Moving and Removing Elements on the Home Page
The content area of the Home page has a variety of elements or components that you can choose
to position or omit from the page—the Contents and Intro-text fields from the Edit page, the
Final-text field from the Variables page, the store’s Name field from the Variables page, and so
on. These are modified—added to the page, removed from the page, or shuffled around on the
CHAPTER 15: Creating the Home and Section Pages
page—by clicking the Edit button in the Editor toolbar, and then clicking the Change button on
the Page-elements line.
Unfortunately, sometimes these elements “stick.” You add an element or move one, and
nothing seems to change when you return to Store Editor. If you’re absolutely sure that you
did what you are supposed to do and the desired action was not carried out, try reloading
the web page. Failing that, try exiting Store Editor (click Manager on the Editor toolbar on
the Home page), then log out and log back in.
Table 15-2 shows the elements available to you, and Figure 15-4 displays the table in
Store Editor.
Making a Product or Section a “Special”
A special is a product or section that is displayed on the Home page—it’s “specially featured”
on your site’s front page. Creating a special is simple. Navigate to the product page and click the
Special button on the Editor toolbar. Store Editor jumps you to the Home page and shows you
how the special will appear.
To remove a special, navigate to the product or section page and then click the Not Special
button on the Editor toolbar.
The text from the Address field in the Variables page (see Chapter 17).
Defines where the navigation buttons sit on the page, but this setting probably only
has an effect if you have created a horizontal navbar (by selecting Top-buttons in
the Page-format drop-down list box in the Variables page)—some witnesses claim
it sometimes works even with the vertical navbar! Generally speaking the setting
is ignored because when you first open Store Editor it has a left-side navbar. We
recommend that you leave this element listed in the table and use the Buttons line in
the Edit page to control the buttons.
A list of links pointing to all the products in your store.
The text from the Final-text field in the Variables page.
The image uploaded through the Image field of the Home page’s Edit page.
The text from the Intro-text field on the Home page’s Edit page.
The text from the Message field of the Home page’s Edit page.
The store’s name, from the Title field in the Variables page, or the Name-image, also
defined in the Variables page.
Places a search box onto the page, which visitors can use to search your site.
Defines where product “specials” will be placed. You will learn about setting a
product as a “special” next.
TABLE 15-2
The Elements Available in the Content Area of the Home Page
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The Page-elements table
There’s another way to enter a special. Go to the Home page and click the Edit button on the
Editor toolbar. Then type the ID of the product or section you want to feature as a special into
the Specials text box, and click Update.
There are a number of settings that affect specials:
■ Label-color, Label-font, and Label-font-size Click Variables on the Editor toolbar
to find these settings. They modify the color, the typeface, and the font size of the Label
text. The Label text (a product field) is only used if the Home page’s Edit page has the
Specials-format drop-down set to As-thumbnails.
■ Specials-format Navigate to the Home page, then click the Editor toolbar’s Edit
button to find this setting. You can select As-contents (the special is laid out on the page
according to the Contents-elements, Contents-format, and Columns settings in the Home
page’s Edit page), or As-thumbnails (the product’s icon image, label, and price are
Sometimes specials may be shown as a little block, probably a blank red square. This is
probably because you have too much text in the product’s Label field (set in the product’s
Edit page or in the product import file). Keep the Label field short.
CHAPTER 15: Creating the Home and Section Pages
Creating and Editing Section Pages
You now have at least one product in the product database, perhaps many more. It’s now time to
create your store pages. We’ll begin by editing an existing section page or creating a new section
What is a section? Merchant Solutions uses the term section but it might help to think of
a section as a category. A section (category) page contains links to product pages. For
instance, a section page in a cookbook store might be Baking; on this page shoppers will
see links to books about baking; clicking one of these links takes a shopper to a product
As you learned earlier, you can create your section pages when you import your product
data, and in many cases—if you have more than just a few products—this is the best thing to do.
Assign each product to a section (a category), then when you import the data file and “publish”
your data, Merchant Solutions automatically creates a page for each section you built. You can
then go into Store Editor and modify the section pages that were automatically created when you
imported your products.
1. In Store Manager, click the Store Editor link. You’ll be viewing the store’s Home page.
2. Look on the left side of the page; you’ll see a number of buttons—you should see one
button for each section that was created. Click one of the section buttons that you created
to load that section, and click the Edit button on the Editor toolbar. Or, to create a new
section, click the Section button while on the Home page.
3. Enter or modify the information in each field, as described in Table 15-3.
The section name. If the section is a first-level section—if it’s added to the Home
page—then this Name also appears on a button on the navigation bar. (These are
known as the Contents buttons; see Chapter 17.) If a subsection of another section
page, the name appears on the parent section page. The name is also displayed at
the top of the section page, unless you’ve added a Headline (see below). The Name
should be kept fairly short.
You can place an image at the top of the page, if you wish. Click the Upload button
to select it. This image size is controlled by the Item-height and Item-width settings
in the Variables page.
The heading appears at the top of the section page if no name has been added. As
with the name, it should be kept relatively short.
This is the full section description; it appears near the top of the page, under the name
or headline. You can make this as long as you want, and you may include HTML tags
to modify the text.
TABLE 15-3
The Fields Available When Creating a New Section Page
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This box lists the contents of the section page—it can contain product IDs and
section names (if you have placed subsections into this section). If you imported
products from a data file and used the path field, the Contents box contains a list of
the products that have been assigned to this section, each separated by a space. You
can change product and section positions on the page by moving them around in the
Contents list. See Chapters 16 and 17 for information on managing page contents.
The Abstract text is used in place of Caption text on pages other than the section
page, so typically it’s a shorter block of text (although actually you can enter as much
as you wish). For instance, if you set the section as a special, the Abstract text is used
on the Home page (if Specials-format, on the Home page’s Edit page, is set to Ascontent, and Abstract is selected in the Home page’s Contents-elements list). You can
also format Abstract text using HTML tags.
This image is used on pages other than the section page. For instance, if you set
the section as a special (see “Making a Product or Section a ‘Special’” earlier in
this chapter), the icon will appear on the Home page, or if this is a subsection of
another—parent—section, the icon will appear on the parent-section page.
In addition, if this is a first-level section—one below the Home page and not a
subsection of another section—and if you set Button-style to Icon in the Variables
page, the Icon image will be used as a navbar button. The Icon image size is
controlled by the Thumb-width and Thumb-height settings in the Variables page.
This image appears as a smaller image, next to the main Image, on the section page.
This image size is controlled by the Inset-width and Inset-height settings in the
Variables page.
The Label text does not appear on the section page itself. Rather, it is used on the
Home page when the section has been set as a “special”, and on parent section pages
if the section is a subsection. Furthermore, in the case of a special, the Label text is
only used if the Specials-format setting is set to As-thumbnails on the Home page’s
Edit page. This text should be kept short, as it is displayed in the form of a one-line
You can ignore this for now. It’s an advanced feature that defines which settings
apply to the page. See Chapter 16 for more information.
This is the address of the page on which the product will sit in your store. It’s
required if you are submitting products to the Yahoo! Product Submit marketing
program (see Chapter 21).
TABLE 15-3
The Fields Available When Creating a New Section Page (cont.)
Are some of the fields in the table missing from the page you’re viewing? You probably
have the Advanced toolbar turned off. Leave the Edit page and open the Advanced toolbar
by clicking the little red triangle. Make sure the Advanced toolbar is always on: click the
Controls button on the Advanced bar, select Advanced in the Default Editor Mode dropdown, and click Update.
CHAPTER 15: Creating the Home and Section Pages
You’ll learn about the Variables page in Chapters 16 and 17.
You can see how these various elements are laid out on a page in Figure 15-5.
The Site Title, created using the
Title field in the Variables page
Inset image
A subsection, entered
into the Contents field
A product, entered
into the Contents field
An example section layout
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The manner in which items are laid out on the page can be modified. See Chapters 16
and 17.
Working with Images and HTML
Merchant Solutions provides fairly limited help with images. If you enter a product by hand, you
can provide three images—but you have only limited control over where they appear, anyway.
Two of them, the Image and Inset images, will appear on the product page. If you import your
products, you only get to define a single image (the Image field), by importing the images
separately (see Chapter 13).
However, there’s another way to drop product images into your product pages, and you can
include as many as you want. You can create a special directory in your account to store images,
and pull the images into your pages. Here’s how you do it, assuming you understand basic
1. In Site Manager, click the Manage My Services button at the top right of the page.
2. In the Manage My Services page, click Web Hosting Control Panel.
3. In the Web Hosting Control Panel page (Figure 15-6), click the Create & Update link on
a tab near the top.
4. Scroll down and click the File Manager link to open File Manager.
You can create a new folder using File Manager.
CHAPTER 15: Creating the Home and Section Pages
5. Click the Create Subdirectory link near the top.
6. Type images into the text box and click Create Subdirectory.
7. The File Manager page appears again; click the new images link.
If you know how to use an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) program and have a large number of
files that you want to upload, you’ll probably want to use that. To find the FTP settings you
need, click the Create & Update link on a tab near the top of the Web Hosting Control Panel,
then scroll down the page to find the FTP Account Info line.
8. In the page that appears, click the Upload Files link (top right) to open the Easy Upload
page. Use this page to upload the image files you want to work with into the images
directory you have just created.
You have now loaded the files you want to refer to into your hosting account. The next step
is to point a subdomain—such as—to the new images directory.
With these instructions you’re going to create a subdomain to point to your images
directory because we’re assuming that you pointed your main domain——
and the www. domain ( to your store. Your store is actually placed in
a different web server location (you won’t see the store when you view the contents of your
hosting account). You learned how to point these domains to your store in Chapter 12.
1. Click the Manage My Services button at the top of the page to return to the Manage My
Services page.
2. Click the Domain Control Panel link.
3. Click the Manage Domain & Subdomains link.
4. Click the Add Subdomain button.
5. Type images into the text box and then select images from the drop-down list box.
6. Click the Submit button.
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That’s it; you’ve uploaded images into a directory in your hosting area from which you can
now pull images into your site. In order to refer to an image you would enter a URL like this:
For instance, let’s say you have an image called bigpicture.jpg and your domain name is You would use this <img> tag to pull an image into your store:
<img src="">
You can test to see if everything’s set up properly by typing the URL (http://images into the address bar in your browser and press ENTER. The
image should load into the browser.
Once you have uploaded the images, here’s how to actually use them in your HTML:
1. Create your HTML in an HTML-editing tool such as Dreamweaver or Microsoft
2. Where you want to insert an image, use an <img> tag, like this:
<img src="">
3. Enter this HTML into the product’s Caption field. (You can also enter HTML into the
Caption field in your spreadsheet and database, and import the product; see Chapter 13.)
As with the Home page, you can create all your section-page content using HTML in the
Caption field.
4. Publish your product data as normal; when you open the product page in your browser,
you should see the images created by the HTML that you placed into the Caption field.
Placing Other Products on a Section Page
We’re going to look at how to place a product in a section page, which is useful in two circumstances:
if you are not importing a data file through Category Manager, or if you are importing a data file but
want a product to appear in two or more section/category pages.
As you saw before, you can define which category (section) a product is placed into when you
import data (see Chapter 13). But what if you want the product to appear in multiple categories?
There are two things you can do.
If you duplicate a product in your data file, you might add some little code to the duplicates.
Let’s say you are selling a book with the ISBN number of 0-764-56758-6 and using this
number in both the ID and Code fields. The first duplicate might be D1-0-764-56758-6, the
second D2-0-764-56758-6, and so on.
Place the product into your database once for each category where you want the product to
appear. If you want the product to appear in three categories, make sure you have three entries
for the product in the database, with a different path for each, of course. The problem with this
method is that you’ll have to use different ID and Code fields because these are unique fields;
CHAPTER 15: Creating the Home and Section Pages
Catalog Manager simply won’t allow you to import a data file with duplicated ID or Code fields.
Still, this method may be the most efficient if you want to place many products into multiple
You can manually place a product into a section page. The product only appears once in the
database, but a little instruction in the section page tells Merchant Solutions to place the product
into that section.
Here’s how to manually place an existing product into a section/category page.
1. In Store Editor, navigate to the section page into which you want to place the product.
2. Click the Edit button on the Editor toolbar.
3. Scroll down to the Contents field.
Don’t remember the code of the product you want to associate? Click Contents on the Edit
toolbar and copy the product code from the list, or refer to your original import spreadsheet
or database.
4. Type the product ID into the field, in the position in which you want it to appear.
5. Click the Update button at the top or bottom of the page.
Here’s another way to do the same thing, using Copy and Paste:
1. Navigate to the page containing the product you want to associate with the section.
2. Click the Copy button on the Editor toolbar. You’ll see the Clipboard bar under the
Editor toolbar.
You can navigate to multiple pages, clicking Copy on each one to “collect” them in the
Clipboard bar.
3. Navigate to the section page into which you want to place the product.
If you copy an item to the Clipboard accidentally, how do you remove it? Click it to place
it onto a section page, then go into that page’s Edit page and remove the product from the
Contents text box.
4. Click the link in the Clipboard bar. Merchant Solutions automatically inserts the copied
product into the current page. (It has entered the code for the product into the current
product’s Edit page Contents field.)
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Moving Products Between Sections
You can also shift products around in your store, from page to page, using the Clipboard bar that
you’ve just seen. This time, instead of clicking the Copy button, click the Cut button. Then,
when you move to another page and click the link in the Clipboard, the product is actually
moved to the new page.
We recommend that you don’t use this method for moving or copying products into
sections unless your store only has a handful of products. In general, you should
import products into Catalog Manager, as explained in Chapter 13.
What if you change your mind? You have two options. You can simply navigate to the
section page in which the product was found originally and click the link—thus replacing it back
where it started. Or you can go into the Contents page (click the Contents button on the Editor
toolbar), and click the Siberia button you’ll see near the top.
In the Exiles page that appears, you’ll see the product page you just cut; it’s “exiled” of
course, because it no longer has a parent (if you’ll excuse the mixed metaphor); it’s no longer
linked to from any other page.
Click the link to the page and click the Unexile button on the Editor toolbar.
Now let’s look at how to modify the store layout—how items are placed on the page, both in
the Home page and in the catalog pages.
Chapter 16
Modifying Page Layout
n the previous chapters, you learned how to create pages by various methods and discovered
some very basic techniques for defining what appears on those pages. In this chapter you’re
going to learn much more about page layout—how, for instance, you can use Store Editor’s
Contents-format and Contents-elements to define how product information appears on a section
page. This can be a little confusing, as there are a number of settings that affect contents
layout, but this chapter should help you figure it out if you take it slowly and spend the time
experimenting a little.
Modifying the Section Page’s
Head and Contents Layout
A section/category page contains both a “head”—the section’s Name and Image—and
“contents.” Merchant Solutions uses the term contents in various ways, but in the case of the
section page, it means information about the products contained within the section. For each
product, the section page can display various different content elements in different formats—the
product Name, the product Icon image, the Abstract, the Order button, and so on. You can have
just a little information, with most of the information displayed on the product page where the
buyer would order, or instead have a lot of information, with the buyer able to place an order on
both the section page and the product page. You can even discard your product pages entirely and
simply let people order off the section pages.
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The page content is configured using these settings, which are found in the Variables page:
Defines which section head elements will be displayed at the top of the
section page. Select Image to include the section Image, and select Displaytext-title to include the section Name (the Image is placed above the Name
if both are selected). This has no effect on the Inset image, by the way, which
displays regardless of this setting.
Defines the placement of the section Name, Image, and Inset image at the top
of the section page. You can set these to Left, Center, or Right.
Defines how the product elements are laid onto the section page.
Defines which product elements—the Name, Abstract, Caption, etc.—are
displayed for each product that is included in the section page.
The number of columns used to display product information.
These settings, by default, are stored in the Variables page; click the Variables button on the
Editor toolbar button and search the Variables page to find them. You can see the effect of these
settings in Figure 16-1.
Whether the section Image and
Name are present is controlled
by the Head-elements.
The Inset image is not
controlled by Head-elements;
if present, it displays.
The manner in which
the product Name and
Icon image are placed
together is defined by the
Contents-format setting.
The Image, Name, and
Inset image positions are
controlled by Head-style.
The various product elements displayed on the
page are defined by the Contents-elements setting.
The number of columns used for products
is defined by the Columns setting.
A few formatting choices for section pages
Modifying Page Layout
Choosing Product Layout with Contents-format
The Contents-format setting defines how the product information is displayed on a section page.
As you can see in Figure 16-2, there are four different Contents-format layouts: Vertical (the
contents are stacked, one element above another); Ell (an L shape, with an image and the text
next to it); Wrap (the product Name and text wrapped around the image); and Pack (the product
Images are packed together with no other information displayed).
Pack . . . all you get
is the product image
The four different Contents-format layouts
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Picking Product Elements with Contents-elements
The Contents-elements setting in the Variables page defines which product
elements are displayed on the section/category page.
Be careful with a Rebuild import (see Chapter 13). If you rebuild the
database, all your section-page formatting will be lost.
The product’s Icon image, if available; otherwise, a reduced-size product Image.
If no image is available and Bullet has been selected, a bullet is used. By default,
this is a small square (using the Home-button-color setting in the Variables page).
You can upload your own bullet image if you wish (see the Bullet-image line on
the Variables page).
The product’s Name, shown as a text link. This is overridden by Display-text-file;
that is, if Display-text-file is selected also, then Screen-text-file will not appear.
The product’s Name, converted to an image link.
The product’s Abstract text.
The product’s Caption. If the product has an Abstract and if you select Abstract in
the Contents-elements list, Caption won’t appear even if selected.
The product’s Price. If the product also has a Sales-price, both are shown, with
labels (Regular price: $32.95 Sale Price: $19.00)
Select this, and all basic product information is displayed: the Name (as plain
text, not a link), the product Code, the Price and Sales-price, the Options, and an
Order button.
Select this, and any products associated with a product on the section page will
be listed below the product itself. (That is, if a product ID has been entered
into the product page’s Contents field.) However, this does not include product
accessories; an accessory will not be listed. (To learn about associating one
product with another, see “Associating One Product with Another” and for
information on accessories, see “Creating a Product Accessory” later in this chapter.)
You can select multiple elements in this list by holding the CTRL button and clicking; if you
use a Macintosh, press the Apple button.
Overriding Head and Contents Settings
You’ve just seen how to modify section pages’ Head and Contents settings—they are set in the
Variables page. You can, however, override these settings in two ways:
■ Use Leaf, an additional group of format settings.
■ Override the settings for a particular page.
Modifying Page Layout
Using Leaf
The Leaf system provides another group of page-formatting settings for section and product
pages. As you’ve just seen, the Variables page provides the following settings: Head-elements,
Head-style, Columns, Contents-elements, and Contents-format. However, there’s another group
of these settings, found on the Config page: Leaf-head-elements, Leaf-head-style, Leaf-columns,
Leaf-contents-elements, and Leaf-contents-format.
These settings are the same as the ones in the Variables page (with the exception—probably a
programming oversight—that Leaf-head-style provides only two choices, Left and Center, unlike
Head-style, which also has a Right setting).
Leaf has no effect on the Home page. However, both Leaf and Variables settings work in
product pages as well as section pages. By default, in fact, the product pages use the Leaf
settings, not the Variables settings.
Thus, you have two different design settings; some section pages may use one set, while
others can use the other set:
■ If Leaf is set to Yes in a page, that page uses the settings in the Config page.
■ By default, Leaf is set to Yes in product pages, so by default, product pages use the
Config settings.
■ If Leaf is set to No in a page, that page uses the settings from the Variables page.
■ By default, Leaf is set to No in section pages, so by default, section pages use the
Variables settings.
Overriding Contents Layout
The third way to define these settings for a section page is to override those settings for a
particular page. In other words, you can use the Variables settings, you can use the Leaf settings,
or you can create settings specifically for a particular page. Here’s how to override:
1. While viewing a section, click the Layout button on the Editor toolbar to see the
Layout toolbar.
2. Click one of the buttons; it doesn’t matter too much which, perhaps one of the Columns
3. At this point, Merchant Solutions automatically creates new fields in the section’s Edit
page. Click the Edit button on the Editor toolbar, scroll to the bottom of the page, and
you’ll see the settings under the Custom properties bar.
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4. You can now set properties using these controls directly, or click Cancel at the bottom of
the page to return to the section page and use the Layout toolbar to make changes:
■ Click On Own Pages to select the following Contents-elements: Image, Bullet,
Screen-text-file, Abstract, and Price.
■ Click On This Pages to select the following Contents-elements: Image, Screen-textfile, Caption, and Order, and to set the page Template to nil.
■ Click an alignment button to change the Contents-format setting; click Left to select
the Ell setting or click Center to select the Vertical setting.
■ Click a column number to change the number of columns used for the products listed
in the section page.
You can also manually override whatever settings you want, not only the Head and Contents
settings. Here’s how:
1. Navigate to the section where you want to override a setting.
Remember that by default, the section settings are controlled by the Variables page. When
you override a setting in a particular section page, you are, in effect, saying to Merchant
Solutions, “Don’t use the setting in the Variables page for x; use this instead.”
2. Click Edit on the Editor toolbar.
3. In the Edit page, click the Override Variable button.
4. In the drop-down list box you see, select the variable that you wish to override. For
instance, let’s say you want to have a custom background color on this particular page;
select Background-color.
Modifying Page Layout
5. Click the Update button to return to the Edit page.
6. Scroll to the bottom of the page and you’ll find a new item added to the Edit page, below
the Custom properties bar. Use this new line to choose the custom settings for the page.
7. Click the Update button to save your changes and return to the section page.
Placing Products on the Section Page Only
You can set up your store so that product information is placed onto the section page—the
products do not have their own product pages. Buyers will have to order the product directly
from the section page. In fact, you can set individual products to work this way, or you can place
all the products on a section page.
This procedure ensures that a product doesn’t have a product page, but it doesn’t ensure
that the necessary information, such as an order button, is displayed on the section page.
Use the Contents-elements setting to do that. You cannot, however, differentiate between
products on a section page; all the products on the page use the same Contents-elements
First, here’s how to make sure that a product doesn’t have a product page:
1. Navigate to the product’s page.
2. Click the Edit button on the Editor toolbar.
3. In the Template field, replace “page.” with “nil”—type it exactly like that, with no
period after the letters.
4. Click the Update button. You’ll return to the section page.
5. Click the Up button on the Editor toolbar to return to the section page.
To reverse the situation and ensure that the product does have its own page, replace “nil”
with “page.” in the Template field.
Now, when you click the product name in the section page, you won’t see the product page;
you’ll go directly to the Edit page.
There’s a quick way to carry out this procedure for all products on a section page. Here’s
1. Navigate to the section page.
2. Click the Layout button on the Editor toolbar. The Layout bar opens.
3. Click On This Pages on the Layout bar.
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That’s it, that’s all it takes. Merchant Solutions automatically carries out the following
actions for you:
■ It changes all the individual product templates to nil.
■ It creates the following Custom properties at the bottom of the section’s Edit page: Headstyle, Contents-format, Contents-elements, and Columns,
■ It selects the following Contents-elements: Image, Screen-text-file, Caption, and Order.
In some cases, Merchant Solutions won’t allow you to select On This Pages, if doing so
will “orphan” a “grandchild.” If the section page contains a product that itself has an
accessory, that accessory will now be “orphaned”; there will be no way for a shopper to
get to the accessory if product data is only displayed on the section page.
Creating and Editing Product Pages
You’ve already seen how to create product pages using Catalog Manager, and that’s how we
recommend you work with your products, unless you have just a small number.
If you modify a product in Store Manager, the changes will appear once you look at the
product in Catalog Manager. Both systems load the data into the same database.
You can also create products—and edit products that you created through Catalog Manager—
from within Store Manager:
1. In the Home page, click the Item button on the Editor toolbar to create a product that is
linked directly from the Home page; a button will be created for the product on the navbar.
2. Navigate to a section where you want to create a product, then click the Item button on
the Editor toolbar.
3. Navigate to a product page and click the Accessory button on the Editor toolbar. This creates
a special kind of product, covered under “Creating a Product Accessory” later in this chapter.
4. Navigate to the Contents page, click the New button at the top of the page, type a product
ID, and click Continue.
Modifying Page Layout
Of course, you can also edit existing pages, even if you created them in Catalog Manager.
Simply navigate to the page and click the Edit button on the Editor toolbar. When you create
or edit product pages in Site Editor, you’ll see some fields that were not present in Catalog
Types and Templates are advanced features used in the early days of the Yahoo!
product (Yahoo! Store) to provide advanced design capabilities. These days people
who need more design flexibility use one of the HTML editors (StoreBuilder,
Dreamweaver, or some other tool).
You can forget about this; it’s a “relic” from the early days of Yahoo!’s e-commerce
product, related to associating products with each other. It’s not commonly used
these days.
By default, this is set to Yes, meaning the product page uses some layout settings
from the Config page.
Creating a “Link” Information Blurb
There are link to links, products, sections, accessories; if it has an ID, you can link to it.
Using this method from the Home page will add a button with the link to the navbar; using
this method from a section page adds a blurb with the link to the page itself.
This following technique allows you to create a blurb on your section/category and product
pages. This blurb will contain text, an image, and a link—on the heading and on the image—
pointing wherever you want it to go, inside or outside your site:
1. Navigate to the page where you want to place this link and information blurb.
2. Click the Links button in the Editor toolbar.
3. Enter the following information:
■ Name The text that will appear as a heading above the link Abstract.
■ URL The URL of the web page that the link points to, either within your web site
or to a page outside the site. If outside the site, make sure you precede it with http://;
if not, the link is created to a non-existent page within your site.
■ Image You can upload an image to go with the link blurb.
■ Abstract This is the actual blurb, the text that appears below the Name and Image.
It can be as extensive as you wish and can include HTML tags.
■ Label You can probably ignore the Label; nobody seems to know what this is or
when it appears!
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4. Click Update. This is what your link looks like when placed onto a section or product page:
The Image
The Name; click here to go to
the web page identified by the
URL you entered.
The Abstract
Creating a Product Accessory
A product accessory is a special kind of product. It’s a product that is associated with another one
and that appears on that product’s page. A buyer can place an order for an accessory directly from the
parent product’s page—there’s an Order button next to it. Accessories do not have their own pages;
if you click on a link in Store Editor to an accessory, you’ll end up in the accessory’s Edit page.
Be careful with Rebuild (an import function described in Chapter 13). If you add an
accessory to a product page and then Rebuild your database, the accessory is deleted
from the database. Rebuild throws away the existing data and replaces it with the data
from the new file.
You will only see the Accessory button on the Editor toolbar if the Leaf setting on the product’s
Edit page is set to Yes. See the “Using Leaf” section for more information about Leaf.
To create an accessory, simply navigate to the product page where you want to place it and
click the Accessory button on the Editor toolbar. You’ll see a normal product page, although
not all fields are needed as it doesn’t have its own product page. You can forget about the Label,
Inset Image, and Icon Image, for instance, but make sure you have a Caption:
Modifying Page Layout
And while you could put a product name into the Contents field, this is pointless because the
accessory doesn’t have its own page to display any associated products, and the product you
enter into Contents will not appear on the accessory’s parent product page.
The Accessory elements that are displayed on the product page are, by default, determined
by the Leaf-contents-elements and Leaf-contents-format settings in the Config page, as
discussed in Chapter 17.
Another, safer way to associate products with each other is to enter information about
the accessory in the parent product’s Caption. You can then store this information in your
database or spreadsheet so it is never removed. You can create links to other products within
the Caption using normal HTML tags. URLs are created like this: http://www.yourdomain
By the way, an accessory is not affected by the Contents choice in the Contents-elements
list. When you choose Contents as one of the Contents-elements (the product elements) to be
displayed in a section page, Merchant Solutions will include all the items listed in the product
page’s Contents text box on the section page, except accessories. That is, if the Contents text box
lists other products that are associated with the product in question, the associated products will
be listed on the section page under that product, but accessories will not.
Associating One Product with Another
You’ll often find that two otherwise independent products are associated with each other. Your
camping store may sell both groundsheets and tents separately, but sometimes people buy both
at the same time. Your cooking store may sell bowls and spoons separately, but you may want to
encourage people to buy both at once. Merchant Solutions allows you to associate products with
each other, by inserting information from one product onto another product’s page.
There are two ways you can do this:
■ Type a product code into the Contents box in another product’s Edit page.
■ Use the Copy button on the Edit toolbar.
Don’t remember the code of the product you want to associate? Either click Contents on the
Edit toolbar and then copy the product code from the list, or refer to your original import
spreadsheet or database.
Using the Contents box is quick and easy. Simply open the product’s Edit page, scroll down
to the Contents box, and type the code of the product you want to associate with the current
product. The products will be display in the order in which they appear in this Contents box.
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The copy-and-paste method works like this:
1. Navigate to the product that you want to associate with another product.
2. Click the Copy button on the Editor toolbar. You’ll see the Clipboard bar under the
Editor toolbar.
3. Navigate to the product page with which you want to associate the product.
4. Click the link in the Clipboard bar. Merchant Solutions automatically inserts the copied
product into the current page. (It has entered the code for the product into the current
product’s Edit page Contents field.)
5. The Layout bar automatically opens. In effect, Merchant Solutions has converted the
current page to a section layout.
Modifying Product Page Layout
You’ve learned how to modify section/page layout in various ways. That’s pretty much all you
need to know about product-page layout, too, with a few minor differences:
■ Product pages can use Variables-page settings or Leaf settings, just as section pages can.
But because Leaf is set to Yes by default, the product pages must use the Leaf settings.
■ The Contents-elements setting defines how associated and accessory products are
treated. That is, if you have associated one product with another or created an accessory,
Contents-elements defines which information for that ancillary product will be included
on the product page.
In this chapter, you’ve seen how to modify page layout. In the following chapter, we’ll look
at how to modify design elements, such as text colors and buttons, but also how to add extra
pages to the site to hold noncatalog information.
Chapter 17
Customizing the Site Design
ow that you’ve learned how to create pages and place elements onto those pages, let’s look
at how to define how the pages appear. What background colors do they use? What typeface
for the various text elements? What color text? What color for text links?
In this chapter, you’ll see how to define these things, and plenty more. Merchant Solutions
provides a very quick way to change design elements—in literally seconds you can give your
store a completely different appearance. But it also provides a hundred or more ways to tweak
things very slightly, changing button designs, the text used on the buttons, the color of headings,
and so on.
You’ll also learn how to create additional, ancillary pages. Not category or product pages,
these pages provide contact information, your privacy policy, and any other information you
want to make available to visitors.
Modifying the Store’s Graphic Design
Merchant Solutions provides tremendous flexibility in the design of your store: colors, fonts,
image dimensions, and so on. There’s so much flexibility, though, that it can take a long time to
figure out exactly what everything does. We’re not going to explain every design possibility, but
we will look at the really quick ways you can change your site’s design. Then we’ll dabble a little
in the more advanced features.
There are two ways to modify store design:
■ The Look button—quickly select a design.
■ The Variables button—modify scores of different design settings.
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Quickly Selecting a Design
Merchant Solutions provides a way to select a different look for your site within seconds. The
first appearance may not be exactly what you want, but you can then modify more design
components using the Variables page, as we’ll see next.
1. In Store Editor, click the Look button on the Editor toolbar. The Look bar opens:
You can ignore the Revert button—its usefulness is limited.
2. Click the buttons to see the different designs. Each time you click, the store changes.
When you have the design you want, click the Hide button to close the bar.
Clicking on a Look bar option changes several things:
The navbar button text size, color, and typeface
The navbar button color and design
The navbar background color
The content area background color
Heading text sizes, color, and typeface
Text color
These settings do not change layout; everything on the page remains in the same position.
They only change design.
Modifying the Navbar Buttons
The buttons you see on the left side of your Store Editor when you first enter are the navbar
buttons. The navbar is already configured for you—Merchant Solutions chose the buttons that
will appear and the positions in which they will be placed. However, you can modify these in a
number of ways, as we’ll see right now.
Switching to a Horizontal Button Bar
You may wish to switch your navbar, removing the left-side navbar with a slim button bar at the
top of the page . . . may, because this simply isn’t appropriate for most stores. If you have a lot of
buttons, they’re not going to fit properly on a horizontal bar at the top—they will run off-page, to
the right of the store, and make the store pages too wide. Try it and see if it looks good for your site:
1. In Store Editor, click the Variables button.
2. Find the Page-format line.
Customizing the Site Design
In very long pages, in particular in this Variables page, use your browser’s Search function to
find the line you are looking for. It’s much quicker than just scrolling down the page trying to
pick it out! In Internet Explorer, select Edit | Find.
3. Select Top-buttons from the drop-down list box.
4. Click the Update button at the top or bottom of the page. You’ll be returned to the page
where you were before, where you can see the new navbar position.
Adding, Removing, and Moving Buttons
Here are the buttons available for placement on the navbar:
■ Contents The Contents buttons are the buttons that point to pages that are children of
your Home page. By default they are in Position #1, at the top of the list.
■ Download Don’t use this button; it is left over from the old Yahoo! Store and not used
in Merchant Solutions.
■ Email When a shopper clicks the Email button, his e-mail program opens with the
Compose window, with your store’s e-mail address in the To: field. (This is the Email
field in the Variables page.)
■ Empty This is not a button, rather an empty space, such as the empty space that
appears by default between the upper and lower buttons in the navbar.
■ Help This displays a generic Help page at; it’s not
very useful, so you’ll probably want to omit this button.
Home This takes the shopper back to your Home page.
Index This displays the store’s Index page.
This is the store’s Information page.
Mall This is the Y! Shopping button. Clicking this takes the shopper away from your
store, to the Yahoo! Shopping Home page (
■ Next Clicking this takes the shopper to the next product in sequence.
■ Privacypolicy Clicking this opens your store’s Privacy Policy page.
■ Register This allows someone to log into an existing customer account or register as a
new customer.
■ Request Clicking this displays a generic page where a customer can request a catalog;
this information is then e-mailed to the customer, using the Automatic Catalog Request
Processing Email address in the Store Manager’s Fax/Email page.
■ Search Clicking this opens your store’s Search page.
■ Show-order When the shopper clicks this button, the items placed in the shopping cart
are shown.
■ Up Clicking this takes the shopper to the parent page—if in a product page, up to the
section page; if in a section page, up to the parent section or Home page.
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Here’s how you can control which buttons are placed onto the Home page’s navbar, and in
which position they appear:
1. In Store Editor, navigate to the Home page and then click the Edit button.
2. Scroll down to the Buttons line and click the Change button. You’ll see the table shown
in Figure 17-1.
3. To remove a button, delete the number next to the button (don’t use 0, as this sometimes
confuses Merchant Solutions).
4. To select the buttons you want and place them into the desired order, type numbers into
the boxes; 1 for the first button, 2 for the second, and so on.
The table used for modifying the Home page’s button positions
Customizing the Site Design
5. To insert a button, type a number into the button’s text box; when you click the Update
button, all the numbers will be reordered, leaving the inserted button in the correct
6. Click the Update button.
7. In the Edit page that appears, click the Update button.
How about the navbar used on pages other than the Home page? These are controlled by
the Variables page. Click the Variables button on the Editor toolbar and then click the Change
button on the Nav-buttons line.
Changing the Order of the Contents Buttons
Yahoo! uses the term contents buttons to refer to the buttons at the top of your navbar that point
to section/category pages. How do you shuffle the order of these around? They are controlled
by the Contents field in the Home page’s Edit page; changing order here modifies the Contents
button order not only in the Home page, but in every page in the store.
Can’t find the Contents field in the Edit page? You’ve probably got the Advanced Editor
turned off. Exit the Edit page; if only one Editor toolbar is visible, Advanced mode is
turned off. Click the little red triangle at the right end of the bar to turn it on. Better still,
make sure it’s turned on by default. Click the Controls button on the Advanced bar, select
Advanced in the Default Editor Mode drop-down, and click Update.
Navigate to the Home page and click the Edit button on the Editor toolbar. Find the Contents
field and move the section/category names into the sequence in which you want them to appear
in the navbar.
Changing Button Designs
If you don’t wish to provide button images, there are still a number of other ways in which you
can modify the look of the navbar buttons. Click the Variables button in Store Editor and look
for these lines:
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■ Home-button-font
■ Home-button-font-size
The Home-button variables only affect the navbar buttons if you use the horizontal navbar,
set by choosing Top-buttons in the Page-format drop-down list box. If you don’t use the
Top-buttons, these settings modify the site Title (the Title is set at the top of the Variables
As suggested by the button names, you can change the color of the button face, the text on
the button, and the edge of the button. You can change the text size and typeface. You can modify
the space between the text and the edge of a button (padding), and the space between buttons
themselves (edge-width). You can also control the Home-button design separately from all the
other buttons.
One element is very significant. Button-edge-color is a very misleading term; you can use
this setting to define the color of the navbar on which the buttons sit.
Changing Button Labels and Using Images
You can change button names in a variety of ways, by changing text labels in some cases (some
buttons can’t be changed) or by providing button images.
■ Contents buttons The contents buttons—the ones that point to the section/category
pages—are already named for you, using the section/category names you create. You can
change these by importing products into Category Manager with new section/category
names in the path field of your data files, or by going into a section page and changing
the Name field.
If you set the Variables Button-style to Icon, any button for which you do not provide an
icon will be a plain text button with no outline around the text.
■ Info, Privacy Policy, Request Catalog, Show Order buttons You can change the text
used in these buttons. Click the Variables button on the Editor toolbar and search for the
info-text, privacy-policy-text, request-text, and show-order-text lines. Enter the text
you want to use and click Update.
■ All buttons You can provide an image to be used for all your buttons. Click the
Variables button on the Editor toolbar and search for the Button Properties section.
Select a Button-style of Icon and upload the buttons using the Upload buttons. If you
have provided Icon images for your section/category pages, they will be used as navbar
buttons, too.
Changing the Function of the Y! Shopping Button
By default, your navbar contains a Y! Shopping button. This leads to the Yahoo! Shopping home
page (, so you’ll probably want to remove it. The last thing you want
is for visitors to your site to be distracted by this prominent button and then leave your site.
Customizing the Site Design
You can remove the button as explained earlier, of course, but you can also modify this
button to link to any page you want inside or outside the site. Click Variables on the Editor
toolbar and search for the Mall-Image line. Click the Upload button to upload a replacement
image. On the line below, Mall-url, enter the URL of the page you want the button to link to.
Adding More Buttons
You can add more navbar buttons if you wish, pointing to pages within your site or outside.
1. Navigate to the Home page.
2. Click the Links button in the Editor toolbar.
Using this method on the Home page adds a button with the link to the navbar; using this
method in a section page adds a blurb with the link to the page itself.
3. Type a link name; the text that will appear on the button.
4. Type the URL the link points to, either within your web site or to a page outside the site.
If outside the site, make sure you precede it with http://; if not, the link is created to a
non-existent page within your site.
5. If you prefer, you can upload an image file to be used as the button. (You’ll also have to
change Button-style in the Variables page to Icon.)
6. You can ignore the Abstract and Label fields if you only plan to use this link as a
navbar button; the Abstract field is not used when creating a button, although it is used
when creating a link in a section or product page. As for the Label field, it’s probably
never used under any circumstances!
7. Click Update.
In general, when you create a link on the Home page, it only appears on the navbar. However,
there’s one condition in which it also appears on the Home page itself: when you have the Contents
option selected as one of the page elements that will be displayed (this setting is on the Home
page’s Edit page).
A link is an element that can be used in two places, on the navbar or on a section or product
page. See Chapter 16 for more information about placing a “link blurb” onto a section or product
Using the Design Variables Page
Once you’ve picked a basic design, you can now modify the slightest detail. The Variables page
offers almost 100 settings providing tremendous flexibility, from text and link colors to button
sizes and fonts, from the currency symbol to the Sales Price label. Take a look for yourself; these
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settings are explained next. (In some cases, we’ve combined settings for the sake of brevity; for
instance, we haven’t described every setting related to buttons.)
■ Title The store’s name, which, by default, appears at the top of each page. When you
create your Merchant Solutions account, your account name is placed here but you can
change it. This text is not used if you are using a Name-image image (explained a bit
later). The size of the Title is controlled by Banner-font-size, the color by Home-buttoncolor, and the typeface by Home-button-font.
■ Email The store’s default e-mail address, used on the store Info page, and, if you use
the Email button on the navbar, it is the address used when visitors to your site e-mail
■ Background You can modify your pages’ background color and define a background
image if you wish.
■ Text-color The color of the “body” text used in your pages.
■ Link You can change the color of the links on the page, as well as the color of the links
when they are clicked.
■ Buttons Various settings let you change what the buttons in the navbar look like; the
button text’s font, font size, and color; the space around the text within the buttons; and
the space between buttons.
■ Buttons-edge-color This is actually the navbar background color, the color of the
background under the buttons.
■ Home-button-color The color of the Home button, if you set Page-format (explained
further down in this list) to Top-buttons.
■ Home-button-text-color The color of the Home button, if you set Page-format to
Top-buttons; also modifies the color of the Title text.
■ Home-button-font The typeface used on the Home button, if you set Page-format to
Top-buttons; also modifies the typeface used for the Title text.
■ Home-button-font-size The font size of the Home button, if you set Page-format to
■ Display-font The font size and typeface used in Title text.
■ Text-font The font size and typeface used in body text.
■ Labels The color, typeface, and font size of the text used for the product Label text
when displayed as a “special” placed on the Home page.
■ Banner-font-size The size of the text used for the store’s name at the top of the site’s
pages (from the Title field).
■ Emphasis-color The color used for emphasis text, in particular the Sale Price text.
■ Thumb-height / -width These define the size of the section or product Icon image
displayed on the section or product page.
Customizing the Site Design
■ Inset-height / -width These define the size of the section or product Inset image
displayed on the section or product page.
■ Item-height / -width These define the size of the section or product Image displayed
on the section or product page.
■ Page-format The navbar format defines whether the buttons are on the side or top of
the page.
■ Page-width If using Side-buttons, this determines the width of the store pages; that is,
how far the contents of a page will spread to the right. (If using Top-buttons, Page-width
is ignored.)
■ Name-image An image used in place of the Title text on interior pages (in the Home
page you must ensure that Name is selected as one of the displayed Page-elements).
■ Head-elements This defines which section-head elements will be displayed at the
top of the section page. Select Image to include the section Image, and select Displaytext-title to include the section Name (the Image is placed above the Name if both are
selected). This has no effect on the Inset image, by the way, which displays regardless of
this setting. See Chapter 16.
■ Head-style Defines the placement of the section Name, Image, and Inset image at the
top of the section page. You can set these to Left, Center, or Right.
■ Columns The number of columns used to display product information.
■ Column-width This modifies how columns of product data are formatted on section
pages. It actually doesn’t set column width. That’s defined by the width of the product
Label—above a certain minimum width, the wider the label, the wider the column. This
Column-width setting, though, defines whether the text below the label conforms to the
minimum column width (Fixed) or extends to the width set by the Label (Variable).
■ Row-pad The vertical space between products listed in a section page.
■ Contents-elements Defines which product elements—the Name, Abstract, Caption,
etc.—are displayed for each product that is included in a section page. See Chapter 16.
■ Contents-format Defines how the product elements are laid onto the section page.
■ Bullet-image You can display a bullet instead of an image for each product on the
section page (using Content-elements). It’s a little square bullet or you can upload an
image here.
■ Button-style Defines what the buttons on the navbar look like: Text (just the text, no
button image behind it); Solid and Incised (“3D” buttons, which look pretty much the
same); and Icon. If you select Icon, button images that you have uploaded will be used
in place of the text navbar buttons. If you’ve uploaded Icon images in section/category
pages, those are used on the navbar as well.
■ Nav-buttons These specify the buttons that are included on the pages, as well as their
positions. This setting affects all pages except the Home page, which is controlled in the
Home page’s own Edit page.
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■ Button Image Uploads Set the Button-style to Icon, then upload button images for
the Up, Next, Show Order, Home, Info, Privacy Policy, Help, Search, Index, Download,
Register, Request, Email, and Mall buttons.
■ Info-text The text used on the Info button (which leads to the Information page) if
Button-style is not set to Icon. You may want to change it to Information or About Us.
■ Privacy-policy text The text used on the Privacy Policy button if Button-style is not
set to Icon.
■ Request-text The text used on the Request button if Button-style is not set to Icon.
(This button leads to a generic request-a-catalog page.)
■ Mall-image/Mall-url You can create a new button, totally replacing the default Y!
Shopping button; upload an image and specify a URL.
■ Keywords Keywords that will be placed into a keywords meta tag at the top of every
page in the site (<meta name=“keywords” content=“keywords”>), read by some search
engines to help them index pages. (Actually, this tag is not particularly important
anymore, and using the same tag for all pages isn’t ideal, anyway.)
■ Head-tags HTML tags that will be placed at the top of the page. For advanced users,
this field might be used to create the <meta name=“description”> tag, for instance. You
could also use it to place a banner across the top of the store.
■ Final-text Another block of text into which you can add HTML. By default, it appears
in all section and product pages, and can be added to the Home page if selected in the
Page-elements (in the Home page’s Edit page) field.
What if you want to use Final-text on the Home page but not on the section and product pages?
You can remove it from section and product pages by overriding the variable (Chapter 16) for
each page. That can be very laborious. A simpler way is to not use Final-text! Simply put the
text you want on the Home page into another field, such as Intro-text.
■ Address-phone A block of text that can be placed onto the Home page using the Pageelements setting in the Home page’s Edit page. You can use HTML tags.
■ Price-style How Sale-price will be displayed. Quiet (prices in normal text, on product
pages only); Normal (prices are displayed in bold); Big (prices are rendered into
images). Sale-price is always displayed using Emphasis-color, one of the earlier settings.
■ Regular-/Sales-price-text You can define the text that appears before the prices on
your pages. For instance, rather than Sales price: you might use Our price!:
■ Order-style Defines how product order information is laid out:
Customizing the Site Design
■ Secure-basket This determines whether a secure server (an https server) is used while
displaying items in the buyer’s shopping cart. This isn’t entirely necessary and even
slows down page loading, but some buyers prefer to see this. The payment-transaction
pages are always served from an https server.
■ Compound-name If Yes is selected, accessory items placed into a shopping cart will
show the parent product name, too.
■ Order-text The text on the Order button.
■ Show-order-text The text on the Show Order button.
■ Families This is another “relic,” related to the Family field you’ve seen elsewhere; you
can ignore it.
■ Cross-sell-text If you use the Cross-Sell Tool (see Chapter 21), this is the text used to
introduce the complementary products.
■ Currency The currency symbol you want to use in your store; by default, $.
■ Thousands mark The character—by default a comma—used to divide groups of three
digits in your prices; for instance, 5,000.
■ Decimals mark The character—by default a period—used to denote the decimal place
in a number, such as 15.56.
■ Quantity-text The character used to separate a quantity and price when using quantity
pricing, by default a / symbol (as in 4/$20). See Chapter 13 for information on setting up
quantity pricing.
■ Minimum-order This is the minimum order, in dollars. Set this to 50, for instance, and
the store won’t let the buyer check out if the total charge, before shipping, is less than $50.
Remember, you can override settings on particular pages. For instance, if you sell mainly
tangible products but have one downloadable product, you could set that one product to use a
No setting in Need-ship. Or if all products but one are immediately available, you can set the
Availability text for a particular product. See Chapter 19 for more information.
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■ Minimum-quantity Set to 1 by default, but this allows you to automatically enter a
quantity into the shopping cart. Set it to 10, for instance, and when the buyer clicks the
Order button, the Quantity field in the shopping cart will show 10.
■ Availability Text that appears above the order information on a product page, letting
buyers know that the product can’t ship immediately.
■ Need-ship If set to No, the product can be purchased without a shipping address. If
selling downloadable products or subscriptions, for instance, you could set this to No.
■ Need-bill If set to No, the product does not require a billing address.
■ Need-payment If set to No, the product does not require payment; it’s a free product.
■ Personalization-charge This is the charge for product personalization, using the
Monogram and Inscription features (see Chapter 13).
■ Ypath/Shopping-url These are “relics” of earlier days; you can ignore them.
■ Publish-timestamp This is a UNIX code indicating when the store was last published.
It’s unintelligible to ordinary people, and you can ignore it.
It’s possible to override variables for one particular section page. Open the page, enter the
Edit page, and click Override Variable. Remember that if you delete a product or section, you
lose the settings, including overridden variables! And that means that if you import products
and do a Rebuild (see Chapter 13), you are going to lose all your overridden variables
because Rebuild deletes items and then re-creates them. So, if you do override variables,
make sure you always do an Add import.
Adding Ancillary Pages
Merchant Solutions has a number of ancillary pages, of which two are required—Yahoo! will not
allow you to open for business without creating an Info page and a Privacy Policy page.
The Info page is intended to provide basic store information to customers. You can put
anything you want here, but Yahoo! does demand certain information: your street address and
phone number, an e-mail address at which you can be contacted with questions about your store
and products, your shipping rates and methods, and refund and return policies.
You must have this information, but you may want to add other things, too. Consider adding
information that builds credibility—memberships in trade associations, Better Business Bureau,
and so on—and other contact methods, such as Instant Messaging, fax, and so on.
Remember, you can change the text on the navbar’s Info button—perhaps to Store Info or
Information—in the Variables page; look for the Info-text field.
To edit the Info page, open the page—click the Info button on the navbar—then click Edit
on the Editor toolbar. You can upload an image (which appears at the top right) and enter text
into three text fields. You can, of course, enter HTML into these fields.
Customizing the Site Design
There’s one more field that is automatically dropped onto the page. The text in the Variable
page’s Email text box is placed onto the page immediately after the Info page’s Address-phone
field and before the Info field. If you don’t want this e-mail address appearing here—perhaps
you have built a table of contact information that you are placing into one of the other fields—
override it using the Override Variable button at the top of the Edit page (see Chapter 16).
Yahoo! demands that all stores must contain a Privacy Policy page, which should
“inform customers what personal information is collected and how it is used.” In fact, the
Privacy page contains a note about Yahoo!’s privacy policy, which you are not allowed
to modify and cannot remove. It’s popular these days for sites to post long, complicated
privacy policies. Yahoo!’s is almost 1,400 words long. There’s no reason a privacy policy
can’t be short and sweet, though, and in any case, you’re already covered by Yahoo!’s
policy. These things are good to include:
■ We collect information we need to process a purchase, to ship your products, and to
make contact with you if there is a problem with the order.
■ We don’t rent, sell, or share your private information, except where necessary to process
and ship your order.
■ We limit access to your information only to trusted employees who need the information
in order to process and ship your order.
To edit the Privacy page, enter the page and click the Edit button. The only field you can
enter here is the Info text. However, you can use HTML tags in this text to format the text any
way you wish, and even to add images.
Creating a Feedback or Catalog-request Form
There’s a very simple way to create a feedback form. Yahoo! calls this form a catalog-request
form, but you really can use it for various purposes: feedback, information request, subscribing
to a newsletter, and so on.
You can also create links from any of your pages to the Request page. Here’s how to find the
URL you have to use. In Store Editor, look in the browser’s Address bar for the yhst number
on any page. Then add that number to the end of
wg-request-catalog?. For instance, if the yhst number is yhst-35484225783552, then the
URL is
Yahoo! Merchant Solutions creates this form automatically; whether you customize it and
use it or not, it’s always there. You can get to it by turning on the Request navbar button. (In the
Home page’s Edit page and in the Variables page, open the Buttons table and add the Request
item.) You can also create a link to it from any page by entering it into a text field in an Edit
page, or by creating a Link element (see Chapter 16).
How to Make Money Online with eBay, Yahoo!, and Google
You can also customize the form. Most of this isn’t done in Store Editor, though; all but the
first item are handled through Store Manager.
1. Change the text on the button pointing to the form; in the Variables page, use Requestimage or Request-text.
2. To set the e-mail address to which the message is sent, click the Fax/Email link and enter
the information into the Automatic Catalog Request Processing Email to field.
3. Set the text that appears in the browser’s title bar while the form is displayed in the
Catalog Request Form Title field of the Customize Your Order Form page; click the
Order Form link.
4. Add extra fields to the form; click the Edit Extra Fields link in the same page.
5. Add a text message at the top of the page; use the Message field.
6. Add check boxes to the form to let people subscribe to your newsletter, to request a paper
catalog, to request a call from a sales person, and so on; use the Request Items field.
Creating More Pages
You can create more pages, if you wish, for a variety of purposes. For instance, A2BScooters
.com—which we looked at in several earlier chapters—created, in addition to the section pages
and normal ancillary pages, several more pages: Our Price Guarantee, Free Shipping, Link to Us,
Scooter Laws, Safety and Scooters, and About A2B (see Figure 12-1).
How did they do this? Simple; they created new sections. A section page doesn’t have to
contain products, it can contain whatever content you want. Name the section with the text you
want to appear in the navbar, and then put whatever text or HTML content you want onto the
page, in the section’s Caption text box.
You can also create however many layers of subsections; a button on the navbar may lead to a
More Information page, for instance, which can then link to as many subsection pages as you wish.
Publishing Your Work
Remember that before your work appears in your store, you must publish it. All the product
information you’ve entered, the section pages you’ve created, the design settings you’ve made . . .
none of this is “live” until you publish it. Simply return to the Home page and click the Publish
button on the Editor toolbar.
Of course, your store is not ready to go yet. You still have to define how the “backend”
works—how the transaction processing functions. In the following chapter, you’ll learn how to
set up a credit-card merchant account, order forms, and notification e-mail messages.
Chapter 18
Defining Payment Methods
and Your Checkout Process
ou’ve finished your store, at least the piece that’s visible to the buyer. Now there’s plenty
more work to do. The first thing you may want to do is get started on setting up a creditcard merchant account, so you can process credit-card orders. In fact, Yahoo! won’t allow you
to open your store until you have a merchant account working. In this chapter, you’ll learn what
a merchant account actually does and how to get one. You’ll also learn how to set up payment
processing in Merchant Solutions and configure the credit-card antifraud tools. Fraud is a huge
problem for many businesses, so it’s important to understand what you can do to minimize it.
In addition, you’ll see how to set up various order-form options, and how to ensure you
receive order notifications so that you know when you have an order waiting to be processed.
Setting Up a Credit-card Merchant Account
Before you can open a Merchant Solutions store, you must have a credit-card merchant account;
Yahoo! won’t allow you to open until you do. You cannot set up the merchant account until,
in theory, you are ready for business. You must be “ready for business with clear product and
pricing information available for viewing.” We recommend you set up the account as soon as
possible, as it can take a little while to get sorted out. So, as soon as your store appears to the
outside world to be ready, you should begin the process.
Credit-card Transactions Explained
Here’s how a credit-card transaction works, as you can see in Figure 18-1. When someone
purchases something with a credit card online, that information is sent to a payment gateway.
The gateway sends the information on to one of the credit-card networks. There is just a handful
of different networks—when your card is swiped at a store, the credit-card swipe terminal
sends the information on to one of these networks. In effect, the payment gateway in an online
transaction takes the place of the swipe terminal in a brick-and-mortar store transaction.
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Your online store
Credit-card network
Buyer’s bank
Your bank
1. Your store sends a message to the credit-card gateway, which passes it on to the credit-card network.
2. The network checks with the customer’s bank to see if it will cover the transaction.
3. The bank sends a message back, approving the transaction.
4. The network sends a message back to your store, letting it know it can complete the transaction.
5. The store lets the network know the transaction has been completed.
6. The network begins the process of transferring money to your account.
How credit-card transactions are processed
Your merchant account identifies you as the merchant. The buyer’s credit-card number, of
course, identifies the buyer. The credit-card network sends the information to the appropriate
credit-card company, which checks the credit card to see if it’s valid and has sufficient funds for
the purchase. If everything’s okay, it authorizes the transaction, holding the funds temporarily.
Later, usually at the end of the day, the transaction has to be settled; at that point, the credit-card
company takes the money from the credit card and transfers it to your bank account (or, at least,
begins the process; it actually takes a day or two—perhaps as many as five days—before the
money appears in your account).
So, you can see that a merchant account is required to identify you and tell the credit-card
companies where to put the money.
Already Got a Merchant Account?
If you’re setting up an existing business online, you may already have a credit-card merchant
account. You may be able to use it with your store, depending on a couple of things: the network
compatibility and the account policies.
Defining Payment Methods and Your Checkout Process
If you’re setting up an existing account to work with Yahoo! Merchant Services, the bank
or company that provides the merchant account must now provide MID (merchant ID) and
TID (terminal ID) numbers. You’ll have to provide the company with information about
Merchant Solutions: the product name and ID, and the vendor name and ID. (To find this
information, click Pay Methods in Store Manager and then click the Set up processing
through FDMS link; you’ll find the information in the Setup page.)
Merchant accounts are set up to work with a particular credit-card network, of which there are
several. Yahoo! Merchant Solutions sends transactions out over a First Data Corp. network, known
as FDMS Nashville. If your current merchant account sends information over a different network,
you will not be able to use it with Merchant Solutions—you’ll have to apply for another one.
However, even if your merchant account does work with FDMS Nashville, you may not be
able to use it. Some accounts are restricted to specific types of transactions. If your merchant
account only allows “swipe” or credit-card-present transactions, you are not supposed to carry
out transactions in which you do not see the credit card. Check with the bank or company that set
up your merchant account.
Merchant Account Fees
There are all sorts of fees associated with merchant accounts. Compare carefully and make sure
you are absolutely clear about exactly which fees are going to be charged.
■ Setup Fee The fee charged for the privilege of setting up an account.
■ Discount Rate The percentage fee that you will be charged for a transaction; if the
rate is 2.29% and the transaction (including shipping and handling) totals $100, you
are charged $2.29. The discount rate varies depending on the card type used. (The rate
typically quoted is for Visa and MasterCard, but American Express, Discover, and others
have different rates.)
■ Termination Fee Watch for this one! Most merchant accounts charge a fee—
sometimes hundreds of dollars—to close the account.
■ Transaction Fee A fixed sum charged, in addition to the discount rate, for each
transaction. Usually around 15 to 25 cents, but again, it varies depending on the card
■ Monthly Fee Sometimes called a statement fee or service fee. You’ll pay this every
month, regardless of the number of transactions.
■ Monthly Minimum The minimum discount-rate fee you’ll pay; if your transaction
discount rates don’t total this or more, you’ll still pay the minimum.
■ Chargeback Fee The fee you’ll pay if a transaction is charged back to you; if
someone claims they never received the product, for instance, or that the card was used
fraudulently, your account is charged for the transaction and the chargeback fee.
■ Online Access Fee There may be a fee to use a merchant account’s online tools.
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■ Equipment Lease or Purchase Some unscrupulous companies charge for
“equipment,” claiming that they are providing the equipment that transmits the
transaction to the credit-card network (the payment gateway). These charges can
sometimes amount to thousands of dollars (although this practice is probably dying out).
■ Other Stuff! Ask for a full schedule of fees, so you know what else you may be
charged for—there are different rates for different types of transactions, for instance—
sales, credits, authorizations, and so on. Some companies will provide a list of five
different fees and claim that’s the full list; it isn’t. A full schedule includes many more
fees, but some companies (such as 1st American, mentioned in the next table) won’t
show you the list until after you apply.
Merchant account rates vary tremendously. If you are a long-term brick-and-mortar
merchant and have never sold online, you may be used to paying way too much for
your merchant accounts. E-commerce has led to great price competition, so it’s now
possible to get relatively cheap merchant accounts. Whichever company you are
already using or plan to use, compare pricing!
The following table shows examples of the two companies recommended by Yahoo!. Other
companies may be comparable, or may have significantly higher fees.
1st American
Option 1
1st American
Option 2
Setup Fee
Termination Fee
Discount Rate (MasterCard)
Transaction Fee (MasterCard)
20 cents
25 cents
25 cents
Monthly Statement Fee
Monthly Minimum
Chargeback Fee
Setting Up Credit-card Transactions
Yahoo! works primarily with a merchant account company called Paymentech. In fact, Paymentech
manages the payment gateway (discussed earlier) and sets up merchant accounts. However, if
you are rejected by Paymentech, you may be able to set up an account through another company.
Yahoo! suggests you try 1st American Card Service (,
or that you go to the First Data web site and try the list of companies provided (http://www.fdms
.com/section.asp?m=25&s=117). You may also want to check another service, even if Paymentech
Defining Payment Methods and Your Checkout Process
doesn’t turn you down, to see if you can get a better deal. Click the Pay Methods link in the Order
Settings column in Store Manager to apply for an account.
When you set up an account, it will be automatically able to handle MasterCard and
Visa transactions. Other cards are optional; if you want to accept American Express and
Discover, for instance, make sure you ask for these. Yahoo! Merchant Solutions can also
accept Carte Blanche, Diners, Optima, and JCB.
Once you’ve set up a merchant account, you have to enter the information into Store Manager,
so it knows what information to send to the credit-card network with every transaction.
1. In Store Manager, click the Pay Methods link.
2. In the Merchant Account Signup and Setup area of the Payment Methods page, click the
Set up processing through FDMS link.
3. Very carefully enter the information you have been provided into the Setup Merchant
Account Through First Data page (see Figure 18-1), and click the check boxes next to the
credit-card types. Do not check any credit card that you cannot accept; if you do, when
Merchant Solutions tests the connection it will fail.
4. Click the Setup button, and Merchant Solutions will access the credit-card network to
test the information you’ve entered.
Configuring Credit-card Verification (Risk) Tools
Credit-card fraud is an unfortunate—and at times significant—cost of doing business. Fraud in
online transactions is around 12 times higher than for in-store purchases, and over three times
higher than mail-order and phone sales; in total, a little over 1% of all dollars charged are done
so fraudulently.
Using these fraud-reduction tools does not guarantee that you won’t be a victim of fraud! It
also doesn’t indemnify you in any way. If you ship a fraudulently purchased product, you still
end up losing (the product and the chargeback fee from the credit-card company), however
careful you are.
For some businesses, in fact, fraud is very significant; for others, it’s a minor cost. If a credit
card is used fraudulently and you ship the product, you lose three ways. The owner of the credit
card will eventually complain to the credit-card company, which investigates. And if you can’t
prove the product was delivered to the card owner, they’ll refund the money. You’ll pay back the
purchase price, you’ll pay back the shipping cost, and you’ll pay a chargeback fee, probably $20–
$30. (The credit-card companies love to advertise that if someone uses your card fraudulently,
they’ll cover your losses. Actually, it’s the merchants who cover your losses!) What’s worse, if a
merchant’s chargeback rates are consistently high, they can be fined or even lose their credit-card
merchant account altogether.
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One risk tool, IP Blocking, allows you to stop people using certain IP (Internet Protocol)
numbers from placing orders at your store. (Every computer connected to the Internet
at any moment has a unique IP number identifying the computer.) At this stage, you are
unlikely to know what numbers to block, so we’re going to ignore it for the moment. For
more information, see Chapter 20.
So it’s in your interest to reduce fraudulent transactions as much as possible. Merchant
Solutions provides two credit-card tools to help you do that:
■ AVS: Address Verification System AVS compares the billing address with the address
on file at the credit-card company.
■ CVV: Card Verification Value The CVV is a three-digit number on the back of a Visa
or MasterCard credit card, or a four-digit number on the front of an American Express
card. As it’s not part of the actual credit-card number and so never appears on transaction
paperwork or in transaction databases, it’s harder to steal. The theory is that if someone
can provide the CVV number, there’s a good chance that he has the actual card in his
Understanding Address Verification
AVS looks at the billing address a buyer enters into your order forms and compares it to the
information on file. You can then decide what to do according to the response that is returned:
Street address OK, ZIP code bad
Street address bad, ZIP code OK
Both street address and ZIP code bad
System is unavailable (sometimes AVS isn’t functioning)
Verification information not available (the network is unable to access address
information for some cards, in particular foreign cards and debit cards)
Unfortunately, AVS doesn’t work for foreign transactions.
You can choose how to handle each of these responses:
■ Flag the transaction. The order will appear as Pending Review so you will be able to
confirm the transaction, perhaps by calling the buyer. In addition, the particular AVS
response code will be displayed, so you know what the problem is.
■ Accept the transaction. For instance, if the ZIP code is correct but the street address
bad, you may want to accept the transaction without flagging it.
Defining Payment Methods and Your Checkout Process
How much are your products worth? With very high-cost products, you’ll probably be more
careful about fraudulent transactions. Also, some products have very low fraud rates—books
and classical music, for instance—while others have much higher rates (such as golf clubs).
It’s sometimes hard to decide how to handle these transactions; some merchants are so paranoid
that they tighten down the fraud tools as far as they will go. But it’s worth understanding that
sometimes AVS will return bad responses in cases in which no fraud is involved. Perhaps someone
has moved recently or mistyped something or mixed up cards with different billing addresses. Bad
AVS does not always indicate fraud. For some businesses, simply rejecting all bad AVS responses
will reduce sales more than it reduces fraud.
Understanding Card Verification Value
If you turn on CVV—and you probably should—the buyer will be prompted to enter a three- or
four-digit code when using a Visa card, MasterCard, or American Express card. The CVV system
then checks the number provided by the buyer against the number on file. There are three bad
CVV responses:
■ Code doesn’t match
■ CVV system not currently available
■ CVV number not provided or not available for that card type
As with AVS, you get to choose how to handle each. You can flag or accept the transaction.
Selecting Risk Settings
Here, then, is how you go about selecting your risk settings:
1. In Store Manager, select the Risk Tools link.
2. In the Risk Settings page, click the Settings link.
3. In the Settings page, check the Yes, enable Risk Tools check box.
4. If you wish, you can set an Order Minimum. Leave it set to 0.00 to use AVS and CVV for
all orders, or set it to a number and orders above that dollar value will use AVS and CVV.
5. Select the AVS Rules; for each AVS response, select whether you wish to Flag or Accept
the transaction.
6. Select the CVV Rules; for each CVV response, select whether you wish to Flag or
Accept the transaction.
7. We recommend that you leave the Yes, make CVV required on checkout check box
checked; if you clear it, transactions will be processed even if the buyer doesn’t enter the
8. Click the Update button.
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Selecting Payment Methods:
Credit Cards, PayPal, and More
Once you’ve set up your credit-card merchant account, you also need to make sure the payment
method actually appears on the web site. This is done in the Payment Methods page.
There are other ways to accept payments, too: PayPal, purchase orders, COD, fax, e-mail,
phone, and so on. We’ll look at these in Chapter 20. However, note that all these methods—
including PayPal—require human intervention. None are as convenient as credit cards, which is
why most merchants prefer credit-card transactions.
PayPal is a very popular option these days for merchants. However, note that PayPal is
not built into the Merchant Solutions store. You can set up a PayPal payment method but
will then have to check your PayPal account manually to ensure that the payment has been
received; that is, Merchant Solutions does not get an automated confirmation from PayPal.
Most merchants will want to avoid some or all of these non-credit-card transactions. One
method that has an extra advantage, however, is phone orders. If you prominently display a
phone number on your web site, you may find that you actually don’t get many phone calls but
that the number of online credit-card orders increases. Making it clear that you’re available, that
a buyer can call and talk to someone, increases the “comfort level” and credibility of your store.
In order to specify which payment methods you want to use, click the Pay Methods link in
Store Manager and scroll down the page. Simply click Yes next to each payment type you want
to use—make sure you only select the credit cards that you have already set up in your creditcard merchant account. If you wish, you can type PayPal into the Add Other text box, then
click Add and, in the screen that appears, click Done (don’t make any changes in this screen).
This adds PayPal to the list but as mentioned before, you should remember that this is a manual
process. You will have to get the buyer to PayPal your payment before shipment.
When you have finished in this page, click Update.
Setting Up Your Order Forms
Now let’s set up how your order forms function. Click the Order Form link on the Store Manager
page (under the Order Settings column), and you’ll see the Customize Your Order Form page.
These are the options available to you:
■ Enable new checkout flow Leave Enabled for all orders selected. The new checkout
flow was introduced years ago, but the old flow is still available for long-term merchants
who wish to continue using it.
■ All forms use Select this whether buyers should enter their names into a single name
field or into separate first and last name fields. The latter is generally the best choice.
As you make changes, you can see the effect by clicking the Preview Order Forms button at
the top or bottom of the page.
Defining Payment Methods and Your Checkout Process
■ Currency Select the currency you are using.
■ Cart Look This defines whether the shopping-cart pages look like the store you
created using Store Editor, or whether they use very simple “generic” pages, which you
may want to select if you are not using Store Editor to build your catalog pages. Click
the Preview Order Forms button to see the difference.
■ Checkout branding You can choose to put your domain name or a store logo at the
top of the checkout pages.
■ Privacy Policy URL The URL of a page containing your privacy policy, which will be
displayed in the checkout pages. Leave this blank if you want to use the page created in
Store Editor.
■ Information Page URL The URL of a page containing your privacy policy. Leave this
blank if you want to use the page created in Store Editor.
■ Continue URL The URL of a page displayed when visitors click Continue Shopping.
If you don’t enter anything, the Continue Shopping link returns the shopper to the
previous product.
■ Final URL The page displayed when shoppers click Keep Shopping on the orderconfirmation page. If you don’t enter anything, your store’s Home page is used.
■ Customer Rating Enabled If this is turned on, Yahoo!’s customer-rating system is
turned on so customers can rate their experience shopping with you.
■ Email Comments To If you don’t want the rating information sent to the e-mail address
in the Yahoo! account associated with this store, enter the address you want to use here.
Gift Wrap
If you offer gift-wrapping services, select Yes.
Price Enter the price for gift wrapping, and whether you charge per order or per item.
Gift Message Select Yes if buyers will be able to enter a short gift message.
Shipping Info Message A short message that goes at the top of the Shipping Address
box on the checkout’s Shipping Form. You can use HTML in this field if you wish.
■ Edit Standard Fields Click this link to determine which fields should be included
when you export XML data. (You must also select the Export Form Fields Set to
Display (Yes) check box on the Field Length Limits page.) You can export data in
various formats from Order Manager (see Chapter 20).
■ Edit Extra Fields Click this link to add more fields to the shipping-information box.
If selling very large products, for instance, you might add a comment box into which the
buyer could add the best time for delivery.
■ Billing Info Message/Edit Standard Fields/Edit Extra Fields These options work in
the same way as for the Shipping options but appear on the Billing form.
■ Disable Comments The Billing page contains a Comments box at the bottom, allowing
buyers to enter special instructions. It’s a good idea to leave this turned on, but you can
turn it off if you wish.
How to Make Money Online with eBay, Yahoo!, and Google
■ Order Confirmation Message This is the message that appears at the top of the orderconfirmation page. You can enter HTML if you wish.
■ Order Status Message The message at the top of the order-status page. This is a page
that buyers can view after completing a transaction so that they can track their orders.
This field can include HTML.
■ Catalog Request Form Title This is not anything to do with the order form. It’s the
text that appears in the browser’s title bar when a visitor is viewing the Catalog Request
form, displayed by clicking the Request button on the navbar. (The Catalog Request is
e-mailed to the address on the Fax/Email form.)
■ Message The message that appears above the Catalog Request form; you can enter
HTML here.
■ Request Items For each line you enter into this box, you will get a check box that
the buyer can select. For instance, you might have a check box to let people subscribe
to your newsletter, one to request a paper catalog, another to request a call from a
salesperson, and so on.
■ Edit Extra Fields Click this link to add more fields to the form.
■ Multiple Ship To Enable Turn this on if you want to allow buyers to ship products in
a single order to different addresses.
■ Field Length Limits Click this link if you want to change the text-entry limits
on fields in the Shipping and Billing pages, if you want to use the Young America
fulfillment company’s ( address format, or if you want to turn
on the feature that allows you to specify which fields are included in an XML export file.
■ Order Button This defines what happens when the buyer clicks on the Order button
for a product that is already in the shopping cart.
■ Enable Got Customer Email Collection Check Box This is used when you sign up
for a Campaigner e-mail marketing account (provided by a company called Got). In Store
Manager, click the Email Marketing link in the Promote column. Select Yes to add a check
box to your checkout process, allowing people to choose to receive e-mails from you.
■ Enable Webloyalty Thank-You Reward Banner On Confirmation Page Select this
to turn on the Webloyalty system, which displays a banner on your order-confirmation
page allowing buyers to opt to receive a “reward.” (You can see a demo here: http:// The reward is some kind of free membership in
a discount club for a limited time. There’s no real benefit to the merchant to set this to
Yes; you won’t earn commissions on sales.
■ Item Options Validation Current Setting If you have created all your product options
properly, you shouldn’t have to change this setting. We recommend you do not change
this setting, as it opens your store up to security vulnerability, which could potentially
be used to commit fraud against you (although admittedly it’s very unlikely). This
was added to Yahoo!’s store some time ago to plug a potential security hole in which
someone could use options to submit an order at a much lower price than the real one.
Defining Payment Methods and Your Checkout Process
Setting Up Notification and Feedback Messages
It’s now time to define the Fax/Email addresses and settings. Click the Fax/Email link under the
Order Settings column in Store Manager. You’ll see the screen in Figure 18-2.
You don’t need the credit-card number in the confirmation message. You’ll learn how to
process orders online in Chapter 20.
This page lets you define how order notifications and catalog requests are sent to you. An
order notification is information about a recent order, sent to you so that you know you have an
order ready to process and ship. By default, it doesn’t provide all the information—it doesn’t
include credit-card information unless you set up encryption, which most merchants do not do
(as it can be a little complicated). A catalog request is information entered by a buyer into the
Catalog Request page, although it makes more sense to think of this as a feedback form (see
Chapter 17).
The Fax/Email page
How to Make Money Online with eBay, Yahoo!, and Google
In each case, the settings are very similar, with the exception of the Encryption Settings.
■ Email To The e-mail address you want the order notification or feedback message sent
to. You can send messages to multiple addresses, separating them with a comma and a
■ Encryption Settings Click this if you want to set up encryption so that you can receive
credit-card numbers in the e-mails. This is not necessary because you will process the
orders online.
■ Send Select the time at which you want the messages sent; many merchants want them
sent immediately, but it’s possible to have them sent at a particular time of day.
■ Format Select the format in which you want to receive e-mailed information. You
can choose just plain text, with each message in an individual e-mail. Or you can select
another format—Adobe Acrobat PDF, two different QuickBooks formats, the old
Viaweb format (Viaweb was the company that originally created the Merchant Solutions
software), or XML. If you select one of these formats, you could choose to have the
information sent periodically, in which case information will be grouped together.
■ Send Emails as attachments Select this, and the plain text messages will be sent
attached to your e-mail message, not displayed inside it. You’ll have to open the message
in another program to read it.
■ Don’t notify me of any errors when faxing Select this, and you won’t see notifications
when faxes can’t get through. Notifications are displayed at the bottom of this page.
■ Don’t resend faxes, even if an order occurred Select this, and Merchant Solutions
will not try again if faxes can’t get through on the first attempt.
There’s a little more configuration to do. In the next chapter, you’ll learn how to configure
shipping and taxes, and how to work with automated inventory tracking.
Chapter 19
Configuring Shipping, Taxes,
and Inventory
o you’ve created a store. You have products, categories, and various information pages.
You’ve set up your payment methods and your order forms. Finished? Not quite. You still
have to set up various details: where you are willing to ship, what shipping methods and rates
you will use, how you will handle sales tax, what will be in your confirmation e-mails, and how
you will manage inventory.
Specifying Where You Ship—Foreign Orders
You need to define what countries you are willing to sell to, so that your customers see the
correct address options when they check out. Where you are willing to ship to is dependent to
a great degree on what kind of product you are selling. Is it very expensive to ship overseas?
Will the product require large import duties when arriving in the country? Is it a product with a
high fraud rate? When a buyer claims a credit-card transaction was fraudulent, you lose the price
of the product and the cost of shipping, and also you must pay a chargeback fee. So, overseas
shipments are even more expensive as a loss than domestic shipments. In addition, foreign
orders have a much higher fraud rate, perhaps 2.5 times the domestic rates (although rates vary
greatly in different areas around the world). Indeed, one study found that 10 percent of Internet
merchants that used to ship overseas have stopped doing so because fraud losses outweighed
the profits.
Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. Click here for terms of use.
How to Make Money Online with eBay, Yahoo!, and Google
Still, many businesses do significant trade overseas; 10 or 25 percent of orders going outside
the United States is by no means an unusual amount. Here’s how to set your country choices:
1. In the Store Manager, click the Foreign Orders link.
2. In the Foreign Orders page, click the right option button to see these choices:
■ Default List of Countries The list of around 70 countries that appears by default.
These are countries that Yahoo! says are low-fraud countries, and in general that’s
true. However, there may be some countries on the list that are relatively high-fraud
countries—Egypt, for example, is on the list yet it has quite high rates according to at
least one study.
■ US Only If you will only ship within the United States, select this.
■ All Countries Except Selected Select this check box to choose countries you don’t
want to ship to; this is useful if you want to ship to most locations with only a few
■ Only Selected Countries Select this check box to choose countries you do want to
ship to; this is convenient if you want to ship to a small selection of countries.
■ Complete List of Countries If you are willing to ship anywhere, select this.
3. Click the Update button.
Setting Up Shipping Methods and Rates
One of the most complicated things to deal with is shipping products to buyers. You need to
define what methods will be used: what companies and what particular services from those
companies, and how much you will charge. You will configure these settings through Shipping
Manager. Click Shipping Manager in the Order Settings column of Store Manager.
Using UPS OnLineTM Tools
Yahoo! has integrated UPS OnLine Tools into Merchant Solutions, providing a very simple way
to manage shipments if you choose to ship via that service. The tools help you print UPS labels,
provide address validation, help buyers select a shipping method, and insert tracking numbers
into confirmation messages.
You can use the UPS OnLine Tools with any Merchant Solutions package. However, highvolume merchants who want to integrate with UPS WorldShip (which we don’t cover here)
must have the Merchant Solutions Professional package.
Before you can use UPS OnLine Tools, you must have a UPS account; visit
.com/myups/info/openacct to do so. Register with UPS by clicking the Shipping Manager link in
Configuring Shipping, Taxes, and Inventory
the Order Settings column of Store Manager, and then on the Shipping Manager page, click the
UPS Registration link.
When you complete the UPS registration, UPS options will automatically be integrated into
Shipping Manager, as you’ll see when you set up your shipping methods.
Creating Shipping Methods
Begin by creating the shipping methods you want to provide—downloadable, air, ground, Federal
Express, UPS next day air, and so on. Click the Shipping Methods link in Shipping Manager, and
then click the Edit button in the Ship Methods page; you’ll see the page in Figure 19-1.
On this page you are simply telling Merchant Solutions what shipping methods you want to
use. Don’t worry about how much will be charged for each method; you’ll deal with that next.
Right now you are defining which methods will be presented to the buyer as a shipping choice.
The Edit Methods page
How to Make Money Online with eBay, Yahoo!, and Google
The following are your choices:
■ General Methods These are nonspecific, predefined terms that will appear in the
Choose Shipping Method drop-down list box during checkout. Downloadable, of course,
refers to a product that will be downloaded and not shipped. If you feel the descriptions
are not specific enough—you’d rather say Fedex Ground than Ground, for instance—or
if they simply don’t match what you want to use—US Postal Service Media Mail, for
instance, or Priority Mail—you can create your own names under Custom Methods.
■ Custom Methods Type a term and click Add to add it to the list. It will appear on the
page above the text box. (You can delete it by clicking the little trash can icon.)
■ UPS Methods If you signed up to use the UPS OnLine Tools, you’ll see the list of
UPS Methods. Simply check the ones you want to offer.
The order in which the items are listed in the Ship Methods page is the order in which they
appear in the Choose Shipping Method drop-down list box in the checkout pages. If you want
to change the order, click the Change Display Order button.
When you click Update, the methods you selected are added to the Ship Methods page.
Defining Shipping Rates and Creating Rules
Now that you’ve defined the shipping methods you want to use, you can specify how much the
buyer will pay you for each method. This can be a little time-consuming because you have to
add a number of rules. For instance, if you ship anywhere in the world, you’ll want to include
a variety of shipping methods to accommodate people in different regions around the world.
But then you’ll also want to have different shipping charges. You’ll charge a Canadian who’s
selecting Global Priority Mail less, for instance, than someone in the United Kingdom, because
your charge is less for Canada than for the UK. So, before you begin creating your shipping-rate
rules in Merchant Solutions, you should spend some time figuring out which method can be used
for each delivery area, and how much will be charged in each delivery area.
Merchants often make money on shipping charges—actually charging more than it really
costs to package and ship the item—but there’s a limit to how far you can take that. You don’t
want your shipping charges to be so much that they discourage the purchase!
When you’re ready, here’s how to set up the shipping-rate rules.
1. Return to Shipping Manager and click the Shipping Rates link.
2. In the ship rates page, click the Add Rule button.
3. Select Anywhere if the rule can be used in any location to which you ship, or select
Specific Location if you want to specify where the rule applies, and then choose one of
these options:
Configuring Shipping, Taxes, and Inventory
■ Select Inside and choose one or more countries if you are specifying which countries
the rule applies to. Then select, from the list, the country or countries to which the
rule applies.
■ Select Outside and then, from the list, choose US United States to specify that the
rule applies to all shipments overseas (of course, we’re assuming here that you’re in
the U.S., but you can specify any other configuration if you need to).
4. If you selected Inside the United States or Inside Canada, you can now specify where
in the country the rule applies, either by selecting the states or provinces or by entering
specific ZIP or Post codes. If you want the rule to apply to the entire country, select Any
State or Any Province.
5. Click the Next button.
6. In the next screen, select the shipping method this rule will use. For instance, if setting
up a rule for shipping via Priority Mail to Europe, you might select Global Priority Mail
(assuming you have created this method in the Ship Methods process). See Figure 19-2.
7. Click the Next button.
8. In the next page, you’ll select the type of calculation you want to use for this rule:
■ Flat Rate Charge Merchant Solutions uses a flat rate—$5, $12, or whatever you
specify—as the shipping charge. The charge can be per order, per pound, or per item.
■ Percentage Charge A shipping charge based on a percentage of the order charge.
If you say shipping is 10%, then on a $200 order the charge will be $20.
Selecting the shipping method to be used for this rule
How to Make Money Online with eBay, Yahoo!, and Google
■ Rate Table This is a more complicated method in which you can define the
charge based on the order value, the number of items in the order, and the shipping
weight (if you provided shipping weights when entering your products into Catalog
Manager; see Chapter 13).
■ UPS Real-Time Rates If you registered for the UPS OnLine Tools and specified
a UPS method, you can have UPS calculate the rates for you.
9. Click the Next button.
Let’s look at each of the shipping methods in turn.
Using a Flat Rate Shipping Method
After you’ve clicked Next, the Flat Rate Details page opens. Enter how much you want to
charge. For instance, you might charge a flat $3 Per Order; then another $1 Per Item. Or
perhaps you could simply charge $7 Per Pound. Charge any combination that works for you.
Using a Percentage Shipping Method
This is a very easy method to use. Simply type a percentage into the text box. Typing 10, for
instance, causes the shipping charge to be $15 on a $150 order.
Creating a Rate Table
The rate table allows you to create more complicated shipping rules that vary depending on
various criteria and at various levels. For instance, you could base shipping on the value of the
order, with a maximum shipping charge; $5 for the first $50 of value, $7.50 up to $100, and $10
for a shipment that is valued at $200 or above.
Perhaps you want to charge based on the weight of the shipment or the number of items.
Perhaps you might charge a flat rate for the first five items, another rate for an order of 10 items,
and still another rate for orders of 15 or more.
Simply select what the rule should be by clicking the Based On drop-down box: Taxable
Amount, Nontaxable Amount, Amount, Weight, or Items. Now enter your rates into the boxes
below. The table in Figure 19-3, for instance, shows a rule that charges the following:
■ $5 for an order of five or fewer products
■ $10 for an order of 10 or fewer products
■ $15 for an order of 11 or more products
If you don’t have enough rows, click the Add Additional Rows link to extend the table.
Using UPS Real-Time Rates
If you selected a UPS Shipping method, all you need to do is to click the UPS Real-Time Rates
option button in the second step of creating rules and click Next. There are no configuration
Configuring Shipping, Taxes, and Inventory
A rate table configured for a shipping charge based on the number of products
in the order
settings; if you select it, then the UPS rate tables will be used. The page that appears shows you
your UPS account information and reminds you that you must provide shipping weights for your
What if you want to charge more for the shipment than UPS charges? After all, it will cost
you more to ship the product than UPS will charge you—you have the cost of packaging and
the time it takes to pack the product. In order to manage this, you will create another rule for the
shipping method.
For instance, let’s say you selected UPS Second Day Air. You would create one rule using
the UPS Real-Time Rates rule type. Then you would create another rule using one of the
other methods. For instance, you might add a $5 Flat Rate Charge. When Merchant Solutions
calculates shipping for an order for which the buyer selected UPS Second Day Air, it adds the
charge provided by the UPS OnLine Tools, and then adds $5.
Combining Methods and Finishing the Process
After you’ve selected and configured the rate type—and clicked the Next button, of course—
you’ll see an option that allows you to decide whether or not the rule should be combined with
By default, with the Apply ONLY this rule, even if other rules match check box not
selected, the rule will be combined with others. In the earlier UPS example, you combined the
How to Make Money Online with eBay, Yahoo!, and Google
UPS Real-Time Rates rule with a Flat Rate rule; leave this check box unchecked and these rules
will be combined. Check it, though, and if two rules match, only this one will be used; the other
will be ignored.
Why would you want to ignore some rules? Let’s say you set up a rule for the entire United
States and another rule for just within your state. A shipment into your state would match both
rules, so you would want to ignore the United States rule.
Once you have set up your shipping methods and rates, you should test them. Test these, as
well as sales tax calculations, by clicking the Shipping & Tax Test link in Shipping Manager,
or the Order Settings column of Store Manager. See “Using the Shipping & Tax Test Tool”
later in this chapter.
Configuring Shipping Settings
Once you’ve set up the methods, rates, and messages, you can define how all this comes
together to function in your store. Most of these settings are related to UPS, but the first setting
is important for all stores. Click the Settings link in Shipping Manager. You’ll see the options
shown here:
■ Shipping Calculations This drop-down defines whether shipping calculations are
made or not. You can select No shipping charges (the system assumes that no shipping
charges are necessary); Tell customer that shipping may be added later (the system
won’t add charges but will display a message telling the customer that shipping charges
may be added to the total shown); Calculate in real time; OK if no matching rule
(shipping charges are added, and the order will always be accepted, even if the selected
shipping method doesn’t match the buyer’s shipping location); and Calculate in
real time, error if no matching rule (charges are added, but if the buyer selects an
inappropriate method, he’ll see an error message).
■ UPS Branding Check this box to place the UPS logo during checkout.
■ Address Validation Select the check box to turn on Address Validation,
a UPS tool that checks to see if the buyer’s address is valid (only if using a UPS shipping
method with a delivery in the U.S.).
■ Time in Transit Select to display an
estimated delivery time (if using UPS).
■ Rates and Services Select to display the
shipping rates (if using UPS).
■ Shipping Location This is merely a
reference field to ensure that the correct UPS
shipping location is entered.
■ Ship-To Address Type If your customers
are primarily business, select Commercial;
otherwise, select Residential.
Configuring Shipping, Taxes, and Inventory
■ Account Type This is the account type you selected when you set up your UPS
account; it determines the UPS rate chart used.
■ Allow Additional Insurance Select Yes if you want the rates to automatically include
shipping insurance, based on the purchase total.
■ Reference Number You can determine what reference number will be sent to UPS so
that you can reconcile orders and shipments on UPS documentation later. You can create
a combination of your domain name and order number if you wish, or just select the
order number and leave the other field blank.
■ Label Format Select what type of printer you’ll be using. If using an Eltron label
printer or compatible, select UPS Thermal Printer (Eltron); for any other kind of
printer, select HP Compatible LaserJet or Ink Jet.
Defining Shipping Confirmation Messages
This is the final step in setting up shipping, configuring the confirmation messages sent to buyers.
Click the Shipping & Order Status link in Shipping Manager to see the Shipment Status page.
■ Shipment Tracking Make sure this check box is selected or shipment tracking will not
function—shipment-status e-mails will not be sent to buyers.
■ Order Confirmation Email In order to have order-confirmation e-mails sent to
your customers immediately after they place their orders, you must enter an e-mail
address here. This will be the Reply To address in the message they receive. It might be
[email protected], for instance; make sure this is a valid e-mail address for which
you have created an account.
■ Bounced Message Email If someone enters a bad e-mail address, the confirmation
e-mail may bounce back to you. This is the address to which these bounces will be sent;
[email protected], for instance.
■ Confirmation Email This is the message at the beginning of the confirmation e-mail;
it’s rather basic, so you may want to customize it, e.g., Thank you for your purchase at . . ..
Click Preview Email to see what the message looks like.
■ Status Update Email This is the message at the top of a status-update e-mail sent to
the customer, when the shipping status changes.
■ XML Updates An advanced feature that allows a sophisticated merchant to send an
e-mail to Yahoo! to update order status.
Managing Sales Tax Rates
Here’s something many small businesses forget about in their early days—sales tax! In fact, the
whole issue of sales tax is rather confusing, so here’s a quick summary of your obligations.
How to Make Money Online with eBay, Yahoo!, and Google
In the U.S., local government has the right to collect sales tax on products sold within their
borders, and most do; the state, city, and county can all collect tax. In some cases there are even
special-district taxes; several cities may get together and start a new tax to fund, for instance, a
rapid-transit system throughout the region.
The situation is further complicated by the fact that different products—and, in some states,
services—have different tax rates. And some products are exempt from all sales tax, or exempt
from state sales tax but not from local tax, and so on. In fact, the U.S. probably has the world’s
most complicated sales-tax system. Unlike European nations, that generally have a single salestax rate, every order your deliver potentially has a different tax rate.
This situation could change; but, quite frankly, it’s not likely to change any time soon.
There is no current legislative process working to change it.
However, at the current time there is one thing that makes things simpler for you. In most
cases, you don’t have to collect sales tax for every location to which you deliver! It all depends
on what’s known as nexus. If you have a nexus in a state, you must collect sales tax in that
state. What, then, is a nexus? In general, nexus is a physical presence. What’s that mean? Well,
that depends on which state you’re talking about! Different states define a nexus differently.
However, in general, a nexus exists for you in a state if
You have a store in that state.
You have employees working in that state.
You have some kind of office location or other property in that state.
At some point during the year, you employ someone, in some capacity, working within
that state to solicit sales—such as setting up a booth at a convention.
■ You, an employee, or an agent, at some point during the year, visit a customer in that state.
If your business fits some of these conditions, you may have a nexus. If you have a store
in a state, there’s no need to wonder; yes, you have a nexus. But if your business occasionally
visits a convention in a state . . . well, maybe, maybe not. In Florida, no; in California, possibly,
depending on the number of days in total you have a “presence” in the state.
So how do you handle sales taxes? Here are some points to consider:
■ If you think it’s possible that you may have a nexus in a state, contact the state and find
out if you actually do. (Contact the state’s Department of Revenue or similar.)
■ If you discover you do have a nexus in the state, you’re going to have to find out what
the sales tax rates are.
■ Find out how you have to collect and remit the taxes.
■ Register with the state and get a sales tax license.
■ Get all the numbers, then read on and find out how to set it all up in Yahoo!.
Here’s a good place to start on your hunt for state tax authorities, the Federation of Tax
Configuring Shipping, Taxes, and Inventory
Okay, so now you’ve discovered that you have to charge sales tax for your products in, say,
Colorado. The tax rate varies throughout the state. Strictly speaking, you have to pay a different
tax rate depending on the delivery location—the place in which the buyer lives. Here’s what the
situation looks like in Colorado:
Sales tax is due on most “tangible personal property” sold for 17 cents or more.
The base state sales tax is 2.9%; all sales must be assessed that rate.
On top of the 2.9% is a city, county, and, in some cases, a special-district sales tax.
Under Colorado law, you must collect sales tax dependent on the location of your nexus
and the delivery—you collect tax for the locations you share. If you have an office in
Denver, and deliver by mail or UPS to Colorado Springs, you just collect the state sales
tax, 2.9%. But if the buyer is also in Denver, you must collect all the sales taxes in that
area: a total of 7.6%.
■ Thus, if you have a location in Denver, some of your sales in Colorado would be charged
at 2.9%, some at 7.6%.
Setting Up Sales Tax in Merchant Solutions
Here’s how to set up sales tax rates in Merchant Solutions. As an example, we’ll assume that
you are in Denver, Colorado, and want to set up two rates: one for deliveries within Denver, and
another for deliveries to other locations within Colorado.
Begin by finding out what ZIP codes are contained within Denver. A number of web sites can
provide this information. Search Yahoo!, for instance, for zip codes denver. You might also try and We found 75 ZIP codes, a range
from 80201 through 80299. (Yes, that’s more than 75 numbers, but some are unused.) Now, let’s
begin to set up the tax rates:
1. In Site Manager, click the Tax Rates link.
2. Click the Use the Auto Setup Wizard link.
3. Currently, Merchant Solutions only calculates taxes in the U.S., so when asked where
you are based, there’s only one check box; click Next.
4. You’ll see a list of states. Click the state in which you have to collect sales tax; if you
have to collect in multiple states, hold the CTRL key and click each one (on the Mac, use
the Apple key).
5. Click Done.
6. Merchant Solutions has now set up a very basic sales-tax profile for each state, but you
need to go in and modify it. Click the edit link on the state line.
7. In the Edit Rule page, shown in Figure 19-4, you can ignore the Country box; United
States is already selected. (In theory, you create a tax rule that sets up a tax rate for a
particular country.)
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The Edit Rule page, where you define the sales tax for a state
8. Ignore the State box as well; the state abbreviation should already be here.
9. We’ll ignore the Zipcode box, too. We’re setting a tax rate for the entire state, so leave
(any) displayed.
10. In the Add this charge: Percentage of taxable amount text box, type the tax rate for
the state; in our example, 2.9%.
11. If sales tax is charged on shipping, enter the amount into Percentage of shipping charge
(it’s not in Colorado).
If you want to combine two rules, make sure both Override drop-down list boxes are set to
No. If you want them to stand alone, make sure both are set to Yes.
Configuring Shipping, Taxes, and Inventory
12. The Override all other rules if this rule is matched? drop-down list box allows you
to define how multiple rules are managed. You can tell Merchant Solutions to combine
two rules or make them stand alone. For instance, one rule might define the tax rate for
the entire state while another defines the additional tax rate for a particular area within
the state, in which case the rules must be combined. That’s what we’re going to do here.
We’ll leave this drop-down set to No, meaning that another rule—which we’ll create in
a moment—can also enter into the calculation. This will mean that everyone in Colorado
pays 2.9% and people in a particular area will pay an additional sum.
13. Click the OK button.
When you’ve set up your tax rates, test them! Use the Shipping & Tax Test utility in Store
Manager, explained in the next section.
You’ve created one rule to set up tax, in this example, in Denver. Now we have to set up
sales tax for the rest of the state. In this example we are going to specify that people who have
their orders delivered in Denver will pay an additional sales-tax rate.
1. In the Tax Calculation page, click the Add New Row link.
2. In the New Tax Rule page, leave Percentage selected (most sales taxes are percentages,
not flat rates), and click Next.
3. In the next screen (bizarrely named Customer Matching), make sure US United States is
selected in the Country list box and that the Inside option button is selected:
4. Enter the state two-letter code into the State text box.
5. Enter 80201-80299 into the Zipcode text box; we’re going to set a tax rate for these ZIP
codes, the codes that cover Denver.
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6. Click the Next button.
7. In the page that appears, enter 4.7 into the Percentage of taxable amount text box.
8. Click the Done button.
That’s it; you’ve set up the tax rates for Colorado. In Denver—the ZIP code range entered
into the Zipcode text box—purchases are assessed the 2.9% state rate and the 4.7% Denver rate.
Outside those area codes, just the 2.9% rate is assessed. And outside Colorado entirely, no tax is
added to the calculation.
There’s one more thing to do, though. Having defined the tax rates, you now have to
ensure they are used in the checkout system. You must select the correct option from the Tax
Calculation for Customers drop-down list box on the Tax Calculation page.
■ Calculate in real time The tax rules you have used will be used during the checkout.
■ Nothing is taxed Your tax rules will not be used—no tax will be added to the
■ Tell customer that tax may be added later Your tax rules will not be used—no
tax will be added to the transaction. However, a message is displayed informing the
customer that you may have to add sales tax to the order before shipping.
Make sure you click the Update button after making this selection.
Using the Shipping & Tax Test Tool
Merchant Solutions provides a great little testing system for your shipping and tax calculations.
It’s a good idea to use this—spend enough time to make sure you’ve checked a wide range of
possible shipping locations and items, weights, and order values. A mistake in your tax and
shipping settings could prove expensive.
Click Shipping & Tax Test in Store Manager to see the test tool. Play with this for a while.
Enter different amounts in the Taxable, Non-Taxable Amounts, and Item Counts fields,
different Ship Methods, and so on. When you click the Calculate button, the results are shown
below. Make sure they make sense in every case, and if you find a problem, go back to taxes and
shipping to find the error.
Configuring Inventory Options
Your final step before opening for business is to tell Merchant Solutions what sort of inventorymanagement system you’ll use. What do we mean by inventory management? Your inventory is
your stock of products, and inventory management in this context means, essentially, figuring out
how your store knows which products are available or which are not . . . better still, how many of
each product you have in stock. In addition, you can have the inventory system send you e-mail
alerts when stock levels fall below a certain amount.
Configuring Shipping, Taxes, and Inventory
Click the Configure Inventory link in Store Manager to see the three Inventory Options:
■ None This is the default, and most small merchants use this method. There is no
inventory management. You’ll have to physically modify a product’s settings to show it
as not available if a product is out of stock, put a message onto your product saying it’s
not yet available, or perhaps take the order and let the buyer know it’s not yet available.
You won’t receive notifications if stock levels fall below a specified limit.
■ Real-time Inventory You’ll need someone who can write a program that will check
with an inventory application running on another web server. This option is beyond the
scope of this book; it’s an advanced method that is only used in special circumstances
and requires programming skills.
■ Database Inventory This option adds an Inventory link to Store Manager, leading to a
page where you can modify product quantities by hand, or import a file containing stock
levels for each product.
Many merchants, especially existing offline merchants just beginning to sell online, really
don’t need to worry about inventory levels. Their online sales are a small proportion of
their offline sales, and so have little effect on inventory levels.
Configuring Database Inventory
Small merchants will generally use either no inventory management or the Database Inventory
system. To use the latter, follow these instructions:
1. Click the Database Inventory option button.
2. Click the Modify Settings button. You’ll see the settings in Figure 19-5.
3. If you want to see e-mails warning you of stock levels falling too low, select Yes in the
Send email alert box.
4. Set the warning level in the Alert Threshold box; if you want to know when stock drops
to 5 or below, type 5.
5. Enter the e-mail address to which the warning messages should be sent in the Email
to: box.
6. Select a time at which the message should be sent in the Send column.
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Setting up Database Inventory
7. An In Stock column, shown next, can be displayed to the buyer when he places something
into the shopping cart. If you don’t want this column, select No in the Display Inventory
Column drop-down list box. Or select one of the Yes options; with Quantity means
the column actually shows the actual number in stock, while with Availability means the
columns shows only Yes or No.
8. Select Yes in the Quantify can Exceed Availability drop-down list box if you want to
allow buyers to place an order for an item that is out of stock. If you select No, the item
appears in the shopping cart when the buyer clicks the product’s Order button, but it will
be removed from the shopping cart as soon as he returns to shopping or tries to check out.
Configuring Shipping, Taxes, and Inventory
9. The Default inventory quantity drop-down defines how the system handles products
for which there is no inventory information stored in the database; if you select Zero,
the system assumes that the product is out of stock. If you select Infinity, it assumes it is
always in stock.
10. Click the Update button.
Entering Inventory Data
You’ve set up how the Database Inventory system works, but right now your system has no
inventory information. Here’s now to enter it:
1. In Store Manager, click the Inventory link in the Process column. (This link doesn’t
appear if you don’t have Database Inventory configured.) The Inventory page appears.
2. Click the Edit button if you want to modify inventory levels by hand. You’ll be able to
type a number into each product’s Quantity field separately.
3. If you want to import your inventory levels, click the Upload button. You’ll be able to
upload a .csv file, similar to the one discussed in Chapter 13, but this particular file must
contain only two columns, Code and Quantity.
Opening for Business
You’re ready for business! Or at least should be if you’ve done everything we’ve covered so far.
You need to complete these steps:
1. Enter products into the product database.
2. Create and customize your store pages.
3. Create and customize the two ancillary required pages, Info and Privacy Policy.
4. Set up a credit-card merchant account.
5. Set up all your store settings, from what the order form looks like to inventory settings.
Now, here’s what you have to do to actually open for business:
1. Go into Store Editor and click the Publish button on the Editor toolbar.
2. Return to Store Manager and click the Publish Order Settings in the Order Settings
3. Look near the top of Store Manager for the Open for Business link. If you’ve completed
all the required steps, you should see this link in the yellow box above the columns of
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4. Click the Open for Business link and follow the instructions; you’ll have to provide
your credit-card merchant account information to prove that you have set up a merchant
5. You’ll be informed when your information has been reviewed and the site is up and
Once your store is up and running, you should try a test order or two to learn how to process
orders. Move on to the following chapter to learn about this.
Chapter 20
Processing Orders
ou’ve finally reached the point to which you’ve been heading all through the process of
building a store: processing orders! In this chapter, we’ll look at how to handle an order
once a buyer has come to your store and bought from you. We’re going to discuss how to
review the orders, how to check “flagged” orders (Yahoo! automatically flags some orders
according to your preferences about handling AVS and CVV codes), and how to process creditcard payments—including how to modify charges and cancel orders. You’ll also learn about
processing other forms of payment—fax, phone, and mail orders—and payment methods such
as PayPal and COD. Finally, you’ll see how to manage your shipments, including using the
integrated UPS tools.
Reviewing Your Orders
Click the Orders link, under the Process column, in Store Manager, and you’ll see something
like the screen in Figure 20-1.
You have a few options here:
■ View a specific order. The most recent order number will be shown, but you can enter
any number and then click the button.
■ View a range of orders. If you have several unprocessed orders, the numbers will be
shown here. Click View to see them all on one page.
■ Summarize a range of orders. You’ll see one line per order, showing the customer
name, the city and state, number of items, order value, date, its status (Pending Review,
On Hold, etc.), and the amount of the order that has been shipped.
■ Print a range of orders. You can choose to print full-order information, an invoice, or
packing slip.
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■ Export a range of orders. You can export information in a variety of formats: MS
Excel, MS Access, CSV (a text file with comma-separated values), M.O.M. (Mail Order
Manager software), QuickBooks, PC Charge (a credit-card processing program), XML,
or Plain Text.
■ Order Lookup. Enter any piece of information—a fragment of the street address, a
buyer’s last name, an order date, and so on—to find matching orders, up to one year old.
(You can search on credit-card numbers for orders up to 30 days old.)
Let’s take a look at an order page. Simply click the top View button. You’ll see a page like
that in Figure 20-2.
The Yahoo! Merchant Solutions Order Manager
Processing Orders
A sample order in Yahoo! Merchant Solutions Order Manager
Here’s the information you’ll find in this page:
Order ID
The order identification number, which comprises the store ID (yhst35484225783552 in this case) and the specific Order ID (485 in the example).
This line only appears if you use the Mark Order option buttons on the right
side of the page, or if Yahoo! automatically marks the order as Pending Review,
based on the AVS and CVV information (see “Checking Flagged Orders” later in
this chapter).
The time and date the order was processed.
Ship To
The shipping address.
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Bill To
If the customer used a different billing address you’ll see it here.
The customer’s e-mail address.
The chosen shipping method.
Selecting an option from this drop-down will send a confirmation message to
the customer when you click the Update button. You can tell the customer that
the order has shipped, will ship within a particular period, or that the item is no
longer available.
In addition, you can enter the shipping method and a tracking number here. (It
will be saved when you click Update.) If you use the Ship Order link in the Ship
via UPS box on the right to prepare a shipping label, the UPS tracking number
will be placed here automatically.
This shows the payment method including, if applicable, the credit-card number.
Rev-Share URL
If you created a tracking link that was used to access your account for this order
(see Chapter 21), the tracking-URL information is shown here.
Yahoo! Network
If the order came from Yahoo!—for instance, if the buyer arrived through a
Yahoo! search—you’ll see information here.
Order XID#
This is an ID used by Commission Junction to identify affiliate-generated orders
(see Chapter 21).
IP Address
This is the IP (Internet Protocol) number of the computer used to place the order.
If you decide that this order is fraudulent, you can block orders from this IP
number; click the number to open the blocker (see later in this chapter).
The order information—the items that have been ordered, the subtotal, tax, and
Merchant Notes
You can enter a note here if you wish; this note is saved when you click the
Update button.
Mark Order
You can classify an order in various ways—by default, it’s set to OK, but you can
change it to Fraudulent, Cancelled, Returned, On Hold, or Pending Review. The
choice is set when you click the Update button.
If you cancel any transactions, remember to use the Cancelled
setting; if you don’t do so, you’ll get charged the transaction fee
for that order. (Yahoo! charges a 1.5% fee for every transaction
in a Starter store, 1% for the Standard store, and .75% for a
Professional store.) Marking orders as Fraudulent and Returned
also avoids paying these fees, although if you kill a lot of orders
using these statuses, Yahoo! may investigate to ensure that you
are not doing so merely to avoid the fees.
Clicking a link here creates an Adobe Acrobat PDF document containing Full
Order information, an Invoice, or a Packing Slip.
Options button
Click this button to change the print format to PostScript, an earlier version of
PDF (2.0), or HTML.
Processing Orders
Ship via UPS
Click the Ship Order link to print UPS shipping labels.
Click the Confirmation link to open the Confirmation page that the customer saw
when completing the transaction.
Click the Rating Request Email link to send an e-mail to the customer asking for
a rating; the customer will be able to rate your store, from Poor to Excellent, on
five different criteria.
Notice also the two buttons on this page:
Click this button to see a page in which you can change almost anything about
the order; the buyer’s address, the shipping method, the items ordered and
pricing, and so on.
Click this to save the changes you made to the Order page; for instance, select
a Tracking Information option and click Update to send an e-mail to the buyer
with shipping information.
Checking Flagged Orders
In Chapter 18 you learned about using “Risk Tools”—the AVS (Address Verification System)
and CVV (Card Verification Value). If the customer enters invalid information, the order will be
handled in one of two ways, depending on what you chose in the Risk Tools page:
■ The AVS or CVV information is ignored. The order will be given a status of OK.
■ The order is flagged. It will be marked as Pending Review in the Orders page. You’ll
see it listed on the Pending Review line in Order Manager.
Read Yahoo!’s detailed information before deciding how to handle orders with bad AVS and
CVV codes.
If you have chosen to run the risk tools—to flag some orders—Yahoo! will mark orders that
have problems as Pending Review. Here’s how to deal with them:
1. In the Order Manager page, click the link pointing to the Pending Review order. The
Order page will open; you’ll notice that the Pending Review option button in the
Mark Order box is selected, and the Marked line, below the Order ID, says “Pending
2. Look at the AVS and CVV codes under the credit-card number on the Payment line.
3. Based on these codes, decide what course of action you want to take; contact the buyer
or process the order as normal. (If you choose to contact the buyer, you may wish to
place the order On Hold—click that option button, then click the Update button.)
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These are the Card Verification Values you may see in the Payment area:
■ M Match; there’s no problem.
■ N Incorrect code. This could be a mistake on the part of the buyer, but could be an
indication of fraud.
■ P or X System unavailable. Not an indication of fraud, but then neither does it provide
information suggesting that the transaction isn’t fraudulent.
■ S or U The system is not providing CVV information for some reason. As above, not
an indication of fraud.
The Address Verification Codes are more complicated, unfortunately. The AVS checks the
street address and ZIP code; these are the codes returned for U.S. credit cards:
YYY Valid street address and five-digit ZIP code
YYX Valid street address and nine-digit ZIP code
NYZ Valid five-digit ZIP code, invalid street address
YNA Valid street address, invalid ZIP code
NNN Invalid street address and ZIP code
NYW Valid nine-digit ZIP code, invalid street address
XX Card number not on file
The previous codes—with the exception of the first two, of course—may indicate a possible
problem. The following do not; for some reason, no AVS information is available, but that isn’t
an indicator of fraud:
XXU Address information not verified
XXR System unavailable
XXS Service not supported
XXE Address verification not allowed for this card type
XX No response from AVS
These are codes you may see for foreign credit cards. The first few are good codes, of course:
■ YYD Valid street address and postal code
■ YYM Valid street address and postal code
■ YYF Valid street address and postal code (United Kingdom)
These may indicate a problem:
■ YNB Valid street address, invalid postal code
■ NYP Valid postal code, invalid street address
■ NNC Invalid street address and postal code
Processing Orders
The previous codes may indicate a possible problem; the following do not—for some reason
no AVS information is available, but that isn’t an indicator of fraud:
■ NNI Address information not verified
■ XXG Non-AVS participant
Remember, bad codes do not always indicate fraud. There are many reasons that people may
enter bad address and CVV information.
There are many decisions to be made here, depending on the type of products you are
selling—in particular the value—and where you are sending them, your willingness to take a
risk, and so on. We recommend that you thoroughly read all the fraud information and devise
some sensible processes and standards for managing these codes.
Processing Credit-card Payments
Most of your orders will probably be placed using a credit card. Here’s how to process these
1. Enter the Order page.
2. Review the order information to ensure that it looks okay.
3. Find the Transaction Control Panel at the bottom of the order.
4. Click the Sale button. If the transaction is processed correctly, the Order page will now
show “Charged” on the Payment line.
5. When you have processed the payment, return to the order form to prepare the shipment.
If shipping via UPS, use the Ship Order link in the Ship via UPS box to create your
mailing labels (see “Shipping Your Order” later in this chapter).
Note that at the point you click the Sale button, and the payment is processed correctly, the
money the buyer owes to you is reserved—your money is secure, and you can go ahead and ship
the product. Technically speaking, though, the process isn’t quite finished. Credit-card orders
have to be “settled.” Typically merchants submit a batch of orders to be settled at one time,
generally once a day, and the Merchant Solutions software automates this process for you; each
evening Yahoo! automatically submits all your orders—the batch—for settlement. You could, if
you wish, submit a batch of orders sooner, by clicking the Submit batch link, but there’s no need
to do so.
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Modifying Charges and Canceling Orders
What if you need to change the payment sum? Perhaps someone called in, and asked you to
change the shipping method, or add an item. Perhaps you haven’t processed the payment . . . or
perhaps you have. And how about canceling an order? The following methods can be used to
change or cancel a payment:
■ To change the payment, if you haven’t yet processed. Simply modify the sum in the
Transaction Control Panel, and then click Sale.
■ To change the value, if you’ve already processed the order but the batch has not
been settled. Click the Void Sale button to void the original transaction, then enter the
correct value and click the Sale button.
■ To change the value, if the batch has been settled. Return to Store Manager, and click
the Manual Transactions link under the Process column. (This link only appears once
you have your credit-card merchant account set up.) This takes you into a form where
you can manually process credit-card transactions. Enter the information and click Sale
to charge more, or Credit to refund money.
■ To cancel a payment, if the batch has not been settled. Click the Void Sale button
(this button appears only if you have already processed the order). This removes the
transaction from the batch, so it won’t be submitted for settlement.
■ To cancel a payment, if the batch has been settled. Go into the Manual Transactions
page (from Store Manager), and issue a credit. This form does contain a Void Transactions
box, but this won’t work if the transaction has already been settled.
Processing Fax, Phone, and Mail Orders
You may choose to accept fax, phone, and mail orders if you wish. The best way to process
these orders is to enter them directly through your store. Actually enter your store as if you
were a customer, choose the items, and enter the shipping and payment information into the
checkout pages.
If you process an order like this, you should probably type a quick note into the transaction’s
Merchant Notes field—Phone order entered by Joe, for instance.
It is possible to charge somebody’s card using the manual-transaction form (the Manual
Transactions link under the Process column in Store Manager). But the problem with doing this
is that you won’t have a record of the actual sale, only the credit-card transactions. If you enter
Processing Orders
it into the store directly, you’ll have a full record, and can manage the confirmation e-mails,
shipping labels, tracking number, and so on fully.
Processing PayPal and Other Forms of Payment
Credit cards are the easiest way to take payments—indeed you must have a credit-card merchant
account before you can open your store. However, as you saw in Chapter 18, you can set up
other methods: Bill Me, COD, Purchase Order, PayPal, and so on.
We’re assuming that you have set up PayPal as a payment type, using the Add Other text
box in the Payment Methods page (see Chapter 18).
Here’s how you would process PayPal payments; other methods are going to be very
similar—you’ll process the payment “offline,” then come to the Orders page to mark the order
as complete:
1. When you review the order, you’ll notice PayPal set as the Payment type. (Ignore the
expiration date; this is simply the default expiration date used if someone enters a credit
Alternatively, consider sending a PayPal invoice. Log into your account, click the Request
Money tab, and then click the Create an Invoice subcategory below the tab. The buyer will
be able to click a link in the invoice e-mail to view a payment page in a web browser.
2. PayPal is not fully integrated into Yahoo! Merchant Solutions, so you need to take a few
additional steps. You must request payment via PayPal immediately (the longer you let
things slip, the less likely you are to get paid!). Click the buyer’s e-mail address, and
send an e-mail asking for payment, and explaining how. You need to provide the e-mail/
ID of your PayPal account, and you should also probably provide a link to PayPal to
speed up the process.
3. When you receive the payment, return to the order form to prepare the shipment. If
shipping via UPS, use the Ship Order link in the Ship via UPS box to create your
mailing labels.
4. Return to the Order page.
5. From the Tracking Information drop-down list box, select Shipped.
6. Click the Update button at the top of the page.
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Shipping Your Order
You learned how to set up shipping methods in Chapter 19. Once you have processed the
transaction and you are sure that you have been paid, you can go ahead and ship the package.
Once it’s shipped, follow these steps:
1. Go to the Order page.
2. Select the shipping method you used from the smaller Tracking Information drop-down
list box.
3. Enter the tracking number, if available.
4. Select Shipped from the larger drop-down list box.
5. Click the Update button. The customer will be mailed a shipping-notification message,
which includes the shipping method and tracking number.
Shipping via UPS
Merchant Solutions has integrated UPS shipping, making it very easy
to print shipping labels for that service. Click the Ship Order link next
to the UPS logo to see the Create a Shipment page.
This is very straightforward. Simply make the appropriate shipping
choices—the address type, the packaging type, dimensions, and weight,
and whether you want a Saturday Delivery (the shipping type is
already set from the order).
On the following page, you’ll be able to review the shipping
information; when you click the Ship Now button, the shipping
information is sent to UPS, and on the third page you can click the
Print UPS Label button to open a window containing a label that
you can print. If you now return to the Order page, you’ll see more
UPS information.
You now have four options:
Ship Order
Click here to go through the shipping process again.
Void Shipment
Click this link to void the shipment; information is sent to UPS to cancel it.
Print Label
Click here to see the label again so you can print it.
Shipment History
Click here to see the time and date that the shipment was processed (and voided
if that’s the case); you’ll also find the tracking number, the shipping service, and
the shipping price.
Processing Orders
Blocking Fraudulent Orders
If you are the victim of fraud, or perhaps receive an order that you decide might be fraudulent
and have decided not to fulfill it, you may want to block the IP number from any future
Be careful about blocking IP numbers. Many, perhaps most, IP numbers are shared.
For instance, if someone dials into their ISP—AOL, for instance—the ISP assigns an
IP number to the computer. When the user disconnects, the IP number is assigned to
another computer. Thus blocking the IP number doesn’t really help in this situation;
the next time the user connects, he will have a different IP number, and the one you
would be blocking would be assigned to another, totally innocent person.
An IP number is an identifier; every computer connected to the Internet, at any given
moment, has a unique IP number identifying it. When someone purchases from your store, the IP
number of the computer used to make the purchase is saved with the transaction; you’ll see it on
the IP Address line on the Orders page.
Here’s how to block an IP number if you’ve decided the order is fraudulent:
1. Click the IP number in the Orders page, and the IP Blocking page opens.
2. At the bottom of the page you’ll see information about the computer used to place the
order. For instance, you may see an Org. Name line something like Comcast Cable
Communications, IP Services—in other words, this would be a computer connected
through a broadband ISP. In this case, the computer probably keeps the same IP number
for an extended time; had this been an AOL subscriber who dials in, the IP number
would change each time the person connects.
3. If you are sure this order is fraudulent, contact the ISP to report it.
4. If you wish to block the IP number, to ensure the computer cannot be used again to buy
from you, click the Add button.
5. Click the Done button to finish.
The maximum number of entries in the IP Block List is 100; these can either be ranges or
individual IP numbers. Only ten can be added at a time.
There’s another way to block numbers or ranges of numbers. Click the Risk Tools link in the
Store Manager page, and then click the IP Blocking link to get to the IP Blocking page. Enter
a range of IP addresses into the IP Addresses box (for instance,–135), click the
Add button, and then click the Done button.
IP blocking is really quite tricky. In fact, unless your business is particularly hard hit by
fraud, you’ll probably end up ignoring it. Unfortunately, it’s not practical to block entire swathes
of the globe, but it may be possible to block particular countries.
Of course being able to handle incoming orders is all very well . . . but you need orders first!
In the following chapters you’re going to find out how to generate sales in your store.
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Chapter 21
Promotion Strategies and Tools
pening your store for business is all very well, but how are you going to get people to visit
your store? And how are you going to encourage them to buy from you?
We’ll be looking at ways to get traffic from the search engines, and various other sources,
starting in Chapter 22. Before we get there, though, let’s look at a variety of promotional and
marketing tools provided by Yahoo! Perhaps one of the most important tools Yahoo! provides is
quick access to the Yahoo! Shopping directory; you can quickly feed data into Yahoo! Shopping,
which can then direct people to your store (you’ll pay between 10 cents and 80 cents each time
someone clicks a link to your site).
There are other useful tools, though. Coupons and discounts can be very effective—you
can even combine a discount with a tracking link to promote a special discount offer through a
club, a discussion group, or a friend’s web site. You’ll also learn about affiliate programs, e-mail
marketing, and Merchant Solutions’ statistics.
Submitting Data to Yahoo! Shopping
Yahoo! maintains a huge directory of products that is used when people search
through the Yahoo! Product search or directly at the Yahoo! Shopping site.
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How to Make Money Online with eBay, Yahoo!, and Google
Yahoo! doesn’t provide buyer’s guides for all categories, just for a few basics, such as
books, CDs, electronics, and video games.
In addition, if you provide the correct product information, your products may also appear
in the Yahoo! Shopping Buyer’s Guides. These are comparison charts that allow buyers to
compare specific products across various merchant sites. You’ll have to provide particular
product information that will allow Yahoo! to exactly match products; ISBN numbers for books,
manufacturer’s part numbers, UPC codes for many other products, and so on.
The products in this directory have been placed there by their merchants, through the Product
Submit program. Each time someone clicks a link to a merchant’s store, the merchant pays
Yahoo! a sum dependent on the category in which the product has been placed—as a Merchant
Solutions client, you’ll pay 20 percent less than the normal rates, which vary between 12 cents
and 80 cents.
There are other, optional costs. You can choose to upload a store logo, for instance, or display
your store name in bold text, both of which give you priority placement when your product turns
up in a search-results page.
To sign up for a Yahoo! Shopping account, click the Yahoo! Shopping link in Store Manager,
and follow the instructions. You must enter Yahoo! Shopping this way in order to ensure you get
your 20 percent discount.
Preparing Product Data
Yahoo! Shopping can pull your product data directly from Merchant Solutions’ Catalog Manager.
In fact it will check your product data several times a day, to make sure it has the latest information.
Before you can submit data to Yahoo! Shopping, you need to prepare your data. There are a
number of fields that you must provide, and others that you should provide. Remember that the
more information you provide about your products, the more likely they are to be found. Why?
Because if someone searches using a particular word or code, and that word or code isn’t in your
product information, your product won’t be found. For instance, people sometimes search using
manufacturer’s codes. If you don’t include them, your competitors’ sites may be found, but
yours won’t!
Notice that Yahoo! Shopping doesn’t pull the Sale-price field! If you’re using both the Price
and Sale-price fields in your Merchant Solutions store, you’ll have to stop doing so, and put
the price at which you sell the product in the Price field. If you don’t, Yahoo! Shopping will
list the more expensive price, rather than the one at which you actually sell the product.
This is the information that is required (the first three are already in your product database):
■ code
■ name
■ price
Promotion Strategies and Tools
■ product-url This tells Yahoo! the page on which the product information is found on
your web site.
■ medium Only required for music or video, this field can be CD, Cassette, MiniDisc,
LP, EP, 45, VHS, Beta, 8mm, Laser Disc, DVD, or VCD.
■ merchant-category The category in which the product is placed in your store.
There are other product fields that are useful; fields that are required for inclusion in the
Buyer’s Guides, in appropriate categories, but that should be included if at all possible because
the more information the more likely your products are to be found.
upc Universal Product Code (the number on a barcode)
isbn For books, the ISBN number
brand The brand name (Levi’s, Guess, and so on)
manufacturer The product’s manufacturer
manufacturer-part-number The manufacturer’s part number
model-number The manufacturer’s model number
ean The European Article Numbering code
classification One of these product classifications: new, used, refurbished, open box,
returned, damaged, overstock, or liquidation
■ gender For gender-specific products: men, women, unisex
■ age-group The age for which the product is intended: infant, toddler, child, pre-teen,
teen, or adult
■ age-range The age range for which the product is intended, such as 0–6 months,
9 months – 2 years, 2–4 years, 8 years and up
■ size The product size; a numeral or word (small, medium, large, and so forth) or code
(S, M, L, XL, and so on)
■ style-number The manufacturer’s style code
■ condition The product condition: new, like new, very good, good, or acceptable
■ yahoo-shopping-category The Yahoo! Shopping category in which you want to place
the product
You may have some products that use some of these optional fields, and others that use
different fields. That’s okay. In your data file you’ll create columns for all the fields you need,
and leave particular fields blank if they’re not appropriate for a particular product.
But how do you get these fields into your product information? You learned about Catalog
Manager in Chapter 13 . . . but you didn’t learn about most of these fields. They’re not in the
default product table in Catalog Manager, in fact.
You’ll need to check your product table in Category Manager to see which fields are present,
add the ones that are not, and then add or import the appropriate product information.
How to Make Money Online with eBay, Yahoo!, and Google
Adding Data Fields
Here’s how to find out if the product fields you need are present in your data table.
1. In Store Manager, click the Catalog Manager link.
2. In Catalog Manager, click the Manage Your Tables link.
3. Click the table containing your product data (probably
default-table; we won’t be discussing how to create new
tables in this book).
4. The Edit Table page shows you all the fields in the table.
Compare this table with the list of fields you’ll need for
Product Submit; you’ll probably have to add merchantcategory and, if selling music and videos, medium. You may
also want to add other fields, such as upc, isbn, brand, and so on.
5. When you’re ready to add fields, click the Edit button on the Shopping Fields line near
the bottom of the page.
6. In the Shopping Fields page, select a field you want to add from the drop-down list box,
and then click the Add Field button.
You must publish your Catalog Manager changes, otherwise they won’t appear in Yahoo!
7. When you’ve added all the fields you need, click the Update button.
8. In the Edit Table page, click the Save button.
Categorizing Products
Product placement, or categorization, is important. Where your products are placed will
determine how much you will be charged for each click, and how people find the product if they
browse through the store.
There are two ways to categorize products within Yahoo! Shopping. Yahoo!’s staff will
review your choice, and may change it, by the way; they want to make sure you’re placed into
the correct category.
First, you must provide the merchant-category information. This does not define where you
think the product should be placed; rather, it tells Yahoo! where you have placed the product in
your own store. For instance, you might have used the path field (see Chapter 13) to specify that a
product is in the Clothing:Mens:Shoes category. You would enter Clothing > Mens > Shoes into the
merchant-category field (while the path field uses the colon to divide categories and subcategories,
in the merchant-category field you must use a space, the > character, and another space).
If you wish, you can stop there and let Yahoo! decide where to place the product. Since
Yahoo! Shopping has a very limited set of product categories, this product might end up in either
Promotion Strategies and Tools
the Apparel category or the Apparel > Shoes > Athletic category, depending on what type of
shoes they are.
You can find a list of Yahoo! Shopping categories at the following web site: https://
You may, if you wish, tell Yahoo! which category you think the product should be placed into
in the Yahoo! Shopping store. To do this, use the yahoo-shopping-category field. If you want
to ensure the product is placed into the Apparel > Shoes > Athletic category, enter that into the
yahoo-shopping-category field. Of course, whatever you enter here has to be the name of a valid
Yahoo! Shopping category.
Creating the Product-url Field
After a few minutes of using Yahoo! Shopping, you’ll notice that when you follow a product’s
link you eventually end up at the merchant’s store, and on the appropriate product page. In some
places, clicking a product name takes you to the store; in others, clicking Check Store takes you
there. But either way, you reach the product page, not just the Home page.
When you feed data to Yahoo! Store, you have to feed a URL for every product—that is, the
URL of the page that holds the related product information. That’s done using the product-url
field. Don’t worry, you don’t have to look at every page in your site and figure out which URL is
used for each product. Here’s a (relatively) simple way to get this information into your import
spreadsheet, for example.
1. Copy the ID column and paste it into a word processor.
2. Using the word processor’s Search and Replace functions, copy your base store URL——at the beginning of every line. For instance, if the ID is
09870987, you end up with
3. Use Search and Replace to paste .html at the end of every line. Now you should have That’s the URL of the product.
4. Copy the entire column of data.
5. Paste the data into a new column in your spreadsheet, and then name the column
Importing and Publishing Your Data
In Chapter 13, you saw how to import data from a database or spreadsheet. You can do the same
thing to publish your data. Add all the new fields you need—merchant-category, product-url,
isbn, upc, and so on. Then import the data exactly as you did before.
Once you’ve imported the data, make sure you also publish it. Until you publish the Catalog
Manager data, it won’t be available to Yahoo! Shopping.
How to Make Money Online with eBay, Yahoo!, and Google
Using Coupons and Discounts
Coupons can be a great way to promote your store. These are, in effect, “digital” coupons. You
define a particular coupon number—N09827340978, for instance, or whatever you want to use—
which can then be printed on paper, entered into an e-mail, read to a customer over the phone,
embedded into an attractive coupon “image” and temporarily posted on your web site, entered
into messages posted in online discussion groups, and so on.
How can you use coupons? Send a coupon to buyers in a follow-up message, thanking them
and offering a discount on their next order or on a friend’s order. Put a paper coupon in the box
along with the product you are shipping. Announce a special-promotion coupon in a discussion
group. E-mail old customers with a coupon code for a special offer.
Here’s how to create your coupons. Begin by clicking the Coupon Manager link in Store
Manager, under the Promote column. You’ll see the Coupon Management page (Figure 21-1)
and these fields:
Enter Coupon Code
The code that the buyer types in during the checkout process. Type a
code, any code (as long as it begins with a letter, and contains only letters,
numbers, hyphens, and underscores). It can’t exceed 128 characters, but
you’ll probably never want to create a code that long anyway. The code
could be A09870987, Zoui897_1, T-9078-098, or whatever you wish.
Good for
Select the discount value. A fixed dollar Amount; a Percent of the order
value; or Free Shipping. Make sure you enter the appropriate value and
select the appropriate option button.
Minimum Purchase
If you wish, you can specify that the buyer must purchase a minimum
amount (“10% discount on all orders over $100,” for instance).
In most cases, you’ll want coupons to expire eventually; maybe have them
only last a week, or a month. Either way, you should select an expiration
Target Items
Leave this text box blank if you want the discount to apply to all products.
Otherwise, enter the product item codes into the text box, separated by
commas (no space). You can also select a product from the drop-down list
box (each time you choose one, the code is entered for you . . . if you add
one accidentally, simply delete the text). Or click the Browse for an item
link to open a tool in which you can browse categories to find the products.
Attach To Links
Leave this blank if you want someone to be able to type the coupon code
during checkout. Only use this in the text box if you want to associate a
discount with a particular source. For instance, if you have a partner site
and have offered a discount to that site’s visitors, attaching the link to the
discount activates the discount automatically when someone arrives from
that site. See the following section for more information about Links.
Once you’ve created the coupon, it’s immediately live. There’s no need to “publish” the
Promotion Strategies and Tools
The Coupon Management page
Creating Affiliate, Discount, and Tracking Links
Merchant Solutions allows you to create special links that can be tracked for three purposes:
■ Affiliate Links You can pay other sites for sending buyers to you; these affiliate sites
earn a commission on sales.
■ Discount Links You can create links that automatically provide a discount to all
visitors arriving through the links, using a coupon created earlier (see “Using Coupons
and Discounts” earlier in this chapter).
■ Promotion Tracking Links You can create links for use in tracking responses to
advertising, PR, and various promotions.
How to Make Money Online with eBay, Yahoo!, and Google
An affiliate is a person or company who sends visitors to your site in return for a commission
on any purchases made by those visitors. For instance, someone clicks a link at an affiliate site,
comes to your site, and buys $100 worth of products. If you’ve agreed to pay a 7.5 percent
commission, you now owe the owner of the other site—the affiliate—$7.50.
A discount link is one that provides a discount to anyone who arrives at your site when they
use it. What would you do with such a link? Here are a few ideas:
■ E-mail special-offer discounts to old customers—put the link in the e-mail.
■ Provide a discount to members of professional associations and clubs; those groups can
put the link on their web sites.
■ Place ads on other web sites for discounts at your store. Put the link in the ad.
A promotion tracking link is one that you use to track the effectiveness of an advert or
promotion of some kind. You don’t provide a discount or commission; you just use the link to
track how much traffic arrives at your site through the link.
Merchant Solutions provides a very simple link-tracking tool; you can create a link and
assign a commission level to that link. Any sales from buyers coming through that link will be
commissionable. Or you can assign a coupon discount to the link. Here’s how to create these
1. Click the Create Links link under the Promote column in Store Manager.
2. Type the name of the affiliate web site and click the Create new trackable link for:
3. You’ll see the information in Figure 21-2.
First Link
This is the link you must give to the affiliate. When visitors click this link, come
to your site, and buy a product, you owe the affiliate the commission. This link
takes visitors to the Home page, but you can tell affiliates they can direct buyers
to particular pages if they replace index.html with the filename of a different page.
Second Link
This link takes affiliates to a page in which they can see statistics about traffic
from their sites and any sales and commissions.
Link Name
This is the name you entered on the previous page; you can change it if you wish.
Auto Merchandise
This is the commission that will be paid to the affiliate for any sales. Enter the
percentage commission you want to pay into the of sales box. If you wish, you
can also pay a fee for visitors sent to your site, even if those visitors don’t make
a purchase. For instance, if you type $10 into the per thousand visits box,
you’ll owe the affiliate $10 for every 1,000 potential buyers that arrive at your
store through the link.
Promotion Strategies and Tools
Buyer Discount
If you wish, you can provide a buyer discount to people arriving through the
link. This allows you to “automate” coupons. Enter the number of the coupon
you’ve already created into the box.
Linker sees
This determines what information is shown to the affiliates on their statistics
pages—you can display just the number of visits (“hits” as the drop-down says,
though this is not the correct term) and the order totals; or you can also display
a list of all the orders, showing each order total and various buyer information.
You should probably not select this option, as this page is not password protected.
4. Click the Email Instructions button. This opens a window in which an e-mail message
is displayed. You can quickly e-mail the instructions on how to use the link to the
5. When you click Send, you return to the previous page.
6. Click Update to complete creating the link.
When you need to monitor your links, click the Track Links link in Store Manager. The page
that appears will provide a list of each link, showing how many “visits” have come through the
link, the amount of sales through the link, and the “credit” owed to the merchant.
Creating a new trackable link
How to Make Money Online with eBay, Yahoo!, and Google
The trackable links we’ve just looked at provide a great way to create “discount” links
and to track promotions, but they’re not a great affiliate tool, for a number of reasons. The
statistics are crude, they don’t provide automatic affiliate-account setup, they don’t provide
the many sophisticated tools provided by real affiliate software. In fact, you may find it
hard to recruit affiliates, because the system is so crude. For information on setting up a
more sophisticated affiliate system, see Chapter 27.
Using E-mail Marketing
E-mail marketing can be a very effective way to generate sales for many businesses. Yahoo!
provides an integrated tool, Campaigner, that you can use to manage an e-mail account. This
system lets you:
■ Place a sign-up form on your web pages encouraging visitors to join your mailing list.
■ Add a “sign up for our newsletter” option in the shopping-cart checkout. (See the Enable
Got Customer Email Collection check box on the Customize Your Order Form page.)
■ Add a list of e-mail addresses directly. If you’ve been using another e-mail system to
send customers e-mails, you can import them.
■ Create attractive, colorful e-mail messages from provided templates.
■ Enter trackable links to pages on your site; you’ll be able to see reports showing who
clicks which links.
Merchant Solutions collects e-mail addresses from customers and people who use the
“request” tool (the Request A Catalog Or Feedback Form tool). This is an old, crude system
that allows you to export a list which you could then use in some other e-mail system (such
as Campaigner). Simply click the Mailing Lists link under the Promote column in Store
Manager, and then click the Export to Excel link.
For $10 a month, you can send 500 messages; for $25 a month you can send 2,500; $40
buys 5,000 messages; and $75 gets you 10,000 e-mail messages. You might consider using this
system to sign up prospects and customers, and send them special offers each month. If you’d
like to give it a try, you can do so for free. In fact as a Yahoo! merchant member you can use the
system free for three months. Click the Email Marketing link under the Promote column in Store
Setting Up Cross-sell Products
The term cross-sell is a merchandising term meaning to sell an additional product to someone
who is already buying something else from you. If someone has just placed a tent into their
shopping basket, perhaps they may be interested in a protective groundsheet. If someone has just
ordered a book on baking cakes, perhaps that buyer may be interested in the cookie trays you
Promotion Strategies and Tools
Some of the features you’ll learn about in this chapter will not work in the Starter Merchant
Solutions package. Cross-sell, Coupons, Gift Certificates, and Trackable Links only work
in the Standard and Professional package. In addition, some of the reports and statistics
you’ll learn about are not available in the Starter package.
Yahoo!’s cross-sell tool allows you to present ideas for additional purchases when someone
places an item into the shopping cart (see Figure 21-3). You can
■ Provide special discounts on the cross-sell purchase
■ Set time limits—for seasonal promotions, for instance
■ Create a cross-sell table in a spreadsheet and upload it into the cross-sell tool
Three cross-sell items in a shopping cart
How to Make Money Online with eBay, Yahoo!, and Google
Here’s how to use this tool:
1. Click the Cross-Sell link in Store Manager under the Promote column.
2. Click the Get Started Now link in the first page you see.
3. Click the Create Entry button to see the Cross-Sell table (Figure 21-4).
4. Select the item for which you want to set up cross-sell from the Purchase Item dropdown list box. When a buyer orders this product, the cross-sell items you define beneath
it will be used.
5. If this is a temporary cross-sell promotion, enter the Start Date and End Date (in the
format mm/dd/yyyy, such as 10/17/2006).
6. Select up to three cross-sell products from the Cross-Sell Items drop-down list boxes,
or use the Browse for an item link to access a tool that lets you see products listed by
7. If you wish, you can enter a Discount. If the buyer purchases the cross-sell item at the
same time as the original purchase item, the price of the cross-sell item is reduced by the
amount you enter here. This can be a percentage or dollar amount, so you must enter a
dollar sign or percent sign: $5 or 7%, for instance.
8. You can add more cross-sell items if you wish. Click the Add a Cross-Sell Item link and
another row will be added. Note, however, that only three cross-sell items are displayed
at any time, so if you create more, only three will be selected, randomly.
9. Click the Create Entry button to finish. The system checks that the rules are valid, and
then displays a confirmation table.
10. Click Add to finish.
Promotion Strategies and Tools
Entering cross-sell products
Cross-sell settings do not need to be “published.” As soon as you enter the rule, it’s available
to the store.
You can also create cross-sell rules in a spreadsheet and afterward upload them—it’s often
quicker to do this. First, download a copy of an existing rule to see how the data file is formatted.
Click the Download Table button in Cross-Sell Manager. Create a file with all the information,
and then upload it using the Upload Table button.
Yahoo! promotes a number of marketing tools, some of which offer discounts to Merchant
Solutions members. Go to the Manage My Services page and look at the Promote Your
Business column.
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Part III
Using Google Pay Per Click
and More to Grow Traffic
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Chapter 22
Google AdWords and Other
Pay Per Click Programs
ay Per Click (PPC) is big business. In fact, it’s the primary manner in which Google makes
money—almost all its income, 98 percent, comes from PPC—and is very important to Yahoo!
as well. Pay Per Click has brought mass-media advertising to small businesses. Businesses that
would never have spent money on radio, TV, or newspapers, are now spending it on PPC . . . and
sometimes even making a profit!
Sometimes? Well, the fact is that PPC doesn’t work for everyone, as you’ll learn in this
chapter. You need the right combination of gross profit per sale, Pay Per Click price, and website conversion ratio. If you don’t have the right combination—and many businesses simply
don’t—PPC will lose you money. Get everything lined up just right, though, and PPC can
provide a regular, predictable flow of profitable business to your web site.
What Is PPC?
Pay Per Click refers to an advertising mechanism in which advertisers pay each time someone
clicks their ad. More specifically, though, these days it refers to ads displayed on search-engine
results pages.
You can see an example in Figure 22-1. At the top of the search results are two small
ads—shown on a light blue background in this instance. In the top-right corner, notice the words
Sponsored Links. More ads appear down the side of the page—again with the words Sponsored
Links, but this time above the ads.
Each time someone clicks one of these links, the company that placed the ad is charged. How
much? Somewhere from 5 cents (on Google) or 10 cents (on Yahoo!) to many dollars! Some
PPC ads cost as much as $50 per click, occasionally even more!
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How to Make Money Online with eBay, Yahoo!, and Google
These are PPC ads.
A Google search-results page, showing AdWords PPC ads
Because large PPC systems generally “feed” a variety of sites, when you buy ads through
a system such as Google or Yahoo! Search Marketing Solutions, your ads may end up on many
different search sites. But you may also have your ads distributed elsewhere, like on the pages of
thousands of different web sites, thanks to the Google AdSense distribution program.
PPC advertising has a number of advantages:
■ It’s very quick. You can start getting results from the search engines in a day or two (in
theory, a few hours, but in most cases it takes a little longer to get everything sorted out).
■ It’s reliable. Using PPC to get traffic to your site is very reliable. You can generate a lot
of traffic, and always appear for appropriate searches in the major search engines . . . if
you’re willing to pay enough.
■ It’s easy to measure. You can see just how much traffic you’re getting, and even figure
out how much of the traffic turns into business (see Chapter 24).
Google AdWords and Other Pay Per Click Programs
The PPC Systems
There are many PPC systems, but only three big ones, and a few “second-tier” systems:
■ Google AdWords Perhaps the best-known PPC system is Google AdWords (http:// Since Google is the single most important search engine, this
system displays many millions of PPC ads every day.
■ Yahoo! Search Marketing Solutions (formerly Overture) This system is also huge,
and displays many millions of ads each day ( Overture was the
original PPC search-engine company.
■ MSN adCenter MSN, Microsoft’s online service, actually gets its PPC ads from
Yahoo! at present. However, it’s in the process of building its own PPC system and by
the summer of 2006 will probably have stopped using Yahoo! ads entirely.
The “second-tier” systems include services such as FindWhat (,
LookSmart (, Enhance (, ePilot (,
Espotting (, and Kanoodle (
Others also exist. In fact, there are literally hundreds of PPC systems . . . most of which are
not worth dealing with. For example, when you figure the time it takes to configure the systems,
it’s not worth the small amount of admittedly cheap clicks you’ll get—and some that border on
the fraudulent (you’ll get little or no traffic from them, but will pay a setup fee that you’ll never
see again). In general, you’ll want to avoid very small PPC systems, and stick to the first- and
second-tier systems.
Understanding the PPC Process
The basic process of using Pay Per Click is pretty simple.
1. Decide to which pages you want to direct traffic from your ads. You can bring traffic to
any page you wish, not just the home page.
2. Register with a PPC system—you’ll provide a credit card to be used to pay for the ads—
and “load” the account with some money to begin with.
3. Write one or more PPC ads (carefully follow the system’s ad guidelines, or the ad won’t
be placed).
4. Associate keywords with your ad—that is, decide which keywords will “trigger” your
ads to appear.
5. Place a bid on each keyword for each ad—in other words, tell the PPC system how much
you are willing to pay every time someone clicks your ad.
6. Turn on the ad campaign and wait for the traffic to appear.
How to Make Money Online with eBay, Yahoo!, and Google
Understanding Conversion Ratio, Click Value, and ROI
There’s one huge disadvantage to PPC ads, though . . . they cost money. Sometimes a lot of
money. Often, in fact, so much money that you will lose money if you buy PPC ads! In order to
use PPC, you really must understand Conversion Ratio, Breakeven Click Value, and Return on
Investment (ROI):
■ Conversion Ratio The proportion of visitors to your site who buy from you. This is the
foundation of any click-value or ROI calculation.
■ Breakeven Click Value The “breakeven” value of a click is the maximum sum you
can pay for a click and not lose money. Of course, you want to pay as little as possible,
but there’s a point at which a click doesn’t make you money and doesn’t lose you money.
If you go over the price, however, you start losing.
■ Return on Investment The amount of money you make after investing in advertising,
typically expressed in terms of the sum returned for every dollar invested. If you pay
$1,000 for ads, and make a profit of $10,000, your ROI is $10 per $1 invested.
You need to consider these things three times:
■ When you have no background information When you first begin considering PPC
ads, you may not know what your conversion ratio is. That is, you don’t know how
many people coming to your site will buy from you. You can, however, do a simple
“guesstimate” to figure out whether PPC will work for you. At this point, you can decide
if PPC is worth doing.
■ When you know your conversion ratio Once you understand what your conversion
ratio really is, you can calculate more accurately whether PPC will work for you. At this
point, you’ll have a much better idea of the likelihood of success.
■ When you’re running a PPC campaign Once you’re buying PPC ads, and people
are coming to your site, you can calculate ROI exactly. It’s then that you’ll know exactly
whether (under current conditions) PPC works for you.
In order to calculate click value and ROI, you must first know—or estimate—your conversion
ratio. The conversion ratio is the relationship between the number of people carrying out some
process and the number of those people who move on to the “next step.” For instance:
■ If 100 people see an ad, and three click the ad, the “conversion” is 3:100, or three percent.
■ If 100 people come to your web site, and ten sign up for a newsletter, the “conversion” is
10:100, or 10 percent.
■ If 100 people come to your web site, and one buys a product, the “conversion” is 1:100,
or 1 percent.
Of course, it’s the last of these that we’re most interested in. Of all the people who come to
your site, how many will buy? This conversion ratio is the core of any ROI calculation.
Google AdWords and Other Pay Per Click Programs
Calculating Click Value and ROI with No Background
Unfortunately, you’re probably in a situation in which you simply don’t have the information to
accurately calculate click value and ROI. You have to guess. Here’s what most people do: they
think, “For every 100 people I can get to the site, I’ll sell to, say, 20 of them.” Based on that, they
look at the cost of clicks, and get excited . . . there’s a lot of money to be made! So let’s look at
more realistic numbers.
Assume that for every 200 people who visit your site, one will buy. If you’re lucky, it will be
more. If you’re unlucky, it will be less. But a conversion ratio of 1:200 is not an unreasonable number.
Many people are shocked when they see this number. 1 in 200 . . . half a percent! How can that
be right? You must understand that conversion ratios are very low. If you own a retail store and sell
to 20 percent of all the people who walk into your store, you shouldn’t use that as an online-store
conversion-ratio estimate! Online conversion ratios are much lower than offline ratios.
We’re not saying that online stores never have better conversion ratios than 1 in 200 or 1
in 100—many have much higher conversion ratios. The world’s top retail stores average
perhaps 4 percent and sometimes, very rarely, reach over 20 percent. But such stores are in
the minority. In general, online retail conversion ratios are small fractions.
Calculating Gross Profit
In order to calculate these important numbers, you need to know your gross profit per sale. We’re
talking gross profit, not revenues. If you sell a product for $50, your gross profit is not $50—after
all, you first have to buy or create the product. Here’s how to calculate gross profit:
The order total
The shipping and handling fee
The credit-card transaction costs or other transaction costs (such as PayPal transaction cost)
The e-commerce system transaction costs (some e-commerce systems, such as Yahoo! Merchant
Solutions, charge a fee for every sale)
The sum you paid for the products you sold
The price you paid to ship the products to you, including shipping insurance
The cost of the packaging used to ship the products
The cost of the labor to pack and ship the products
The shipping fee
Any other per-product costs you had to pay
Gross Profit
In other words, gross profit is what is left over from the sum you received for the products
you sold after subtracting all the costs directly related to selling the products.
How to Make Money Online with eBay, Yahoo!, and Google
The calculation above doesn’t include click costs, though; we’re assuming that you’re trying to
calculate the gross profit of a sale, before you have begun your PPC-advertising campaign. Of course,
if you are paying for clicks to generate the sale, you must also subtract the cost of those clicks.
Calculating Breakeven Click Value
So, here’s how to calculate breakeven click value. Let’s use some sample data:
■ Click conversion rate: out of every 200 people clicking a PPC ad and arriving at your
site, one will buy.
■ Average profit per sale, before advertising costs: every sale brings $150 in gross profit.
The calculation is very simple. Divide the average profit by 200 (in order to make one sale,
you must get 200 clicks): $150/200 = 75 cents.
What does this mean? If you spend 75 cents for every click—that is, 75 cents each time you
use a PPC ad to bring a visitor to your site—and you sell to one person in 200, you’ll break even.
You won’t make money on the sales, but you won’t lose money on the products sold, either.
What’s the ROI?
What’s the ROI on an advertising campaign in which you pay the maximum click value? Nothing.
You have no return. The profit you make on the sales goes to paying the investment in the advertising.
Here’s how to calculate ROI:
Gross profit derived from the advertising divided by the sum spent on advertising
In the previous example, the advertising cost was $150 (200 clicks at 75 cents), and the
profit, after subtracting the cost of the advertising, was $150.
$150/$150 = $0
Consider another scenario. This time you spend 40 cents per click; you still need 200 people
to come to the site for each sale (so you spend $80 on clicks), and the gross profit, before click
costs, is $150.
$150 − $80 = $70
$70/$80 = $0.875
In other words, for every dollar you spend, your ROI is $0.875.
Calculating Click Value and ROI Later
If you’re already in business and selling through your online store, you should have a closer
estimate of your conversion ratio. From there, you should be able to figure out the real
conversion ratio. It won’t necessarily be the same as the conversion ratio you’ll get from your
Google AdWords and Other Pay Per Click Programs
PPC campaign; for many reasons the PPC conversion ratio could be higher or lower. But at least
you’ll have a real number to work with, rather than a pure guess.
How do you figure out your conversion ratio? Look at your web site statistics and find out
how many people visited your store over a particular period. For instance, choose your last
month of operations, and look for a statistic such as:
■ Unique Visits
■ Unique Visitors
■ Customers (an ambiguous term, but unfortunately the one used by Yahoo! Merchant
If you’re using Yahoo! Merchant Solutions, click the Reports link in the Statistics column and
look for the Customers statistic.
Once you know how many people have visited your store during that period, you need to
find out two more things:
■ The number of orders taken through the store
■ The average gross profit on each order
Now you can calculate your conversion ratio. To do so, divide the Number of Visitors by
the Number of Orders. For instance, if you had 1,538 visitors one month, and you processed 12
orders, your conversion ratio is 1:128. That is, you need 128 visitors in order to make one sale.
The average gross profit number, of course, allows you to figure out your breakeven click
value. For instance, let’s say:
■ The average gross profit on the orders is $35.
■ For every order you needed 128 visitors.
■ Thus, your breakeven click value is 27.34 cents. If you pay more than this for every
click, you’ll lose money.
This is still just an estimate, of course, because until you run a PPC campaign, you don’t
know if the conversion will be worse, the same, or better.
Once you actually run the PPC campaign, you can get exact numbers. You won’t care
so much about breakeven click value anymore because you’ll be able to see your ROI and
determine whether you’re making money. You’ll know just how much you’re spending for each
click, and you’ll also know your conversion ratio, under two conditions:
■ If you’re sure you’re getting all your site visits from PPC campaigns, then you know all
your sales are derived from PPC advertising and you can accurately calculate your ROI.
If you get traffic from various sources, though, you can’t do this, unless . . .
■ You install software that tracks sales from your PPC campaigns. We’ll look at this in
Chapter 24.

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