How It Works

Viaweb Store is a combination of an authoring tool and a hosting service:

  • You build your store on our server, using an easy point and click interface.

  • There is no software to install: all you need is an ordinary browser.

  • We host your finished site. You can have your own address like Or you can use

  • Orders are accepted securely using industry-standard SSL encryption.

  • You can retrieve orders (securely) from our server over the Web. Orders can also be forwarded to you by fax.

  • You can log in to change your site or retrieve orders whenever you want, from any browser.

  • Pricing is simple: $100/month for a store selling 50 items, and $300/month for up to 1000 items. There is no startup fee, and you can cancel whenever you want.

You'll be amazed how easy it is to create your own online store. You just enter information like the names, prices, and descriptions of the items you want to sell. It takes less than a minute to add a new item, and you can upload an image for it with a single click.

As well as being easy to use, Viaweb generates sites that are among the best looking and technically most sophisticated on the Web. See for yourself in some of our users' sites.

There is simply no easier way to have a high-quality, secure online store.

How do we try Viaweb?

You can make yourself an account and create a store right now, with our test drive. If you have any questions, call us toll free at 1-888-4-VIAWEB (1-888-484-2932) and our friendly staff will be happy to help you.

How many hits do you get?

Viamall as a whole is currently getting over 9.9 million page views per month. That corresponds to over 72 million "hits", or http requests.

Are people buying?

Yes! E Business magazine called Viamall "one of the true electronic commerce success stories." For Viamall as a whole, orders are currently running at over $3.3 million per month.

What do you do about security?

See our statement on security.

Do we have to sign a contract with Viaweb?

You have to agree to our Terms of Service, but you don't have to sign up for a set period of time. You can cancel whenever you want.

Can we have as our address?

Yes, many of our users do. Viaweb includes an easy tool that lets you register your own domain name ( If you already have a domain name, we can help you transfer it.

How do the orders get to us?

There are three ways to get your orders:

  1. Most users view orders on the Web: just go to the Viaweb home page and click on the Manager button. After entering your password, you'll be able to view orders over a secure connection.

  2. You can also retrieve orders as database files in a choice of common formats. This lets larger merchants feed Web orders into their existing order stream.

  3. You can have orders forwarded by fax.
If you want your site to be maintained by a freelance web consultant, you can make the password for retrieving orders different from the one for editing the site.

Does Viaweb support real-time credit card processing?

Yes, our software can do credit card authorizatons in real time through Cybercash, or we can simply pass the credit card number on to the merchant. Most merchants prefer the second option. In either case, you need a merchant account for each credit card type you accept.

Do we have to know HTML?

No, you never see HTML. All you have to do to create a store is type in the name, price, item number, description, etc, of each of the items you want to sell.

On the other hand, if you want to embed HTML tags in the text that you type in, you can.

Can we change a store once we've created it?

You can update your site as often as you want, from wherever you happen to be. Some of our users update their sites several times a day.

While you're editing your site, visitors continue to see the previous version, but once you publish your changes, the updated version instantly becomes visible.

Does our store have to look the same as all the others?

Far from it. You have complete control over the look of your site. For example, Improvements, the Rolling Stone store, and our own site were all made with Viaweb, and they each have their own distinctive look and structure.

How do we get the images into the store?

When you're editing your store, there will be an [Image] button at the bottom of each page. If you click on that button, you'll be able to select an image on your local disk, and upload it right into the item's page.

What's more, Viaweb will automatically create smaller "thumbnail" images for use in section pages. You only need to upload one version of each image, and Viaweb makes the rest.

Does Viaweb handle animated gifs?

Yes, but our software resizes images over a certain size, and resizing kills animation. (If your animated gifs are getting resized, either upload smaller versions, or raise the resize threshold by changing the variables item-height and item-width.)

Can we get statistics about what is happening in our store?

Viaweb's tracking tools are regarded by most experts as the best in the industry.

I have a database of all my inventory. Can I build my store from it?

Yes. You can upload database files, inspect the data, and then build your entire site with one button click. Several of our users have built their sites this way, including Barnhill Bolt (18,000 items), and Quantum Books (6300 items).

See our online documentation for details of how to generate your site from a database.

Do we need any special hardware or software to use Viaweb?

You don't need anything more than you needed to read this page.

If you're going to include images in your store (which we recommend), you may want a scanner or digital camera.

The only software you need is an ordinary browser: Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Explorer.

Can you help us promote our site?

The most important step in promoting a Web site is to get it listed in all the major search engines. Our software takes care of that automatically. As soon as you tell us to open your site, it goes to work submitting your pages to every major search engine - not just the front page, but all the interior pages as well.

It works. Users who have sites on other servers report that they get more search engine hits in their Viaweb sites.

Beyond this, the right strategy for promoting a site depends on what kind of site it is. Our experienced staff can tell you what is likely to work for you.

What search engines will our pages be submitted to?

Our software submits your pages to Altavista, Excite, InfoSeek, Lycos, WebCrawler, OpenText, and HotBot.

The only listing we can't automate is Yahoo, which makes you fill out a form about your site. See our tips for creating a successful Yahoo entry.

Warning: Infoseek's "add url" page is currrently broken. Don't submit URLs to Infoseek yourself, or your whole site may be removed from their index.

We already have a web site. Can we put just the commerce part on your server?

Yes, many of our users do this, and it works fine.

Will anyone else have access to our sales data?

Absolutely not. We publish aggregate statistics, but we never disclose sales data for specific stores without their prior consent.

We also understand the value of customer lists to direct marketers, and our policy is that this information is your property. We do not sell customer names, nor do we use them ourselves.

What kind of network connection do you have?

Viaweb policy is always to have twice as much network bandwidth as we need. We currently have two T1 lines to our main servers, and a third as a backup to a separate location.

What do you use as servers?

We use the same configuration as Yahoo: Pentium-based servers running a derivative of Berkeley Unix.

How reliable are your servers?

It is rare for a server to be down for more than 10 minutes per month.

What do you do about backups?

We back up all the user data every night. With orders we don't even wait till that night: they are backed up instantly.

Sales: 1-888-4-VIAWEB or
Support: 1-617-876-9678 or