Yahoo!’s Merchant Solutions service was hit by a series of outages yesterday, costing many small business customers dearly on what is thought to have been the busiest day of the year.

Partners of the hosted e-commerce service complained that shoppers were receiving “system unavailable” messages when trying to complete transactions.

And all on a day in which online sales were predicted to reach $700m in the US. 

Yahoo! acknowledged the problems but wasn’t able to fix them until after 11PM US time, which was a bit late in the day.

It apologised for the outages, blaming heavier than expected holiday traffic -which is staggering, considering the amount of press out there about how much shopping was expected to take place yesterday.

On the Merchant Solutions site, it says its goal is “to maintain the most reliable e-commerce hosting solution on the Web”.

But as surveys have indicated, technical difficulties can have far-reaching implications for etailers, including the 40,000 or so that make up Merchant Solutions’ clientele. 

This will have a negative impact on the way customers view these retailers and many customers may choose not to shop with them again.

It seems that Yahoo! has a lot of apologising to do…

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