Should You Buy a .SHOP Domain Name?

The emergence of the new gTLDs has created a lot of confusion for many businesses and startups. Should you choose a .shop domain name when you have options such as .COM or your country’s ccTLD?

If you are building a serious business online, the best option is often a .COM or your country’s top level domain name, depending on what internet users in your country are familiar with. In the US, for example, a .COM is a preferred choice for most businesses. Elsewhere, local businesses are likely to go with a ccTLD domain name.

The new gTLDs are quite unpredictable as shown by the recent massive price hike by Uniregistry. Some of them are going to collapse in the near future and many of them are overpriced. So for a durable, predictable and stable internet address, go with the traditional .COMs and ccTLDs.

However, there are situations where certain gTLDs can make good sense. Unlike many new gTLDs currently in the market, .shop top level domain name that is very predictable and is backed by a large Japanese internet corporation that has been in the DNS business for decades. It is therefore a new gTLD that inspires trust and many ecommerce and brick and mortar businesses are likely to find good use for .shop domain names.

Here are instances where you should use a .shop domain name:-

  • Use it to replace your shop subdomain names: There are businesses that have hosted their ecommerce pages or shops on the subdomain name of the main website. In this case, it may be prudent to use a .shop top level domain name. There are also businesses that have hosted their shops or ecommerce portals on a completely different domain name that is snot similar to their main corporate website. A good example is Lufthansa with its online shop www.worldshop.eu. In this case, it can now make sense to host the shop on a domain name like www.lufthansa.shop.  
  • Use .shop domain name for an extra shop: You don’t have to have a single website for your ecommerce shop. You can create a separate auxiliary domain name to host a different version of your website on a .shop to boost your sales.
  • Use .shop domain name for SEO purposes: You can get keyword .shop domain names and use these for SEO purposes so as to drive extra traffic and leads to your business.
  • Use a .shop for a quirky ecommerce website: Are you launching a quirky ecommerce website selling unique or creative products? It only makes sense to use an equally quirky domain name. That means not going for the boring stuff like .COM or ccTLD. You can register a creative .shop domain name to host your ecommerce website.
  • Use .shop for your brick and mortar business: Even if you are not providing online deliveries and are simply running a brick and mortar shop, you can create an online profile of your shop on a .shop telling your customers about your product and service offerings.

                                                          

Choosing a Profitable Domain Name for Your Ecommerce Shop

There are various factors that go into choosing the right domain name for your ecommerce website. There are the usual considerations. For example, the name should be short, precise and highly relevant to the products you are selling. The name should also be memorable and easy to pronounce. It should easily roll off the tongue.

A good name can be easily remembered by customers and passed to others by word of mouth. If the name is hard to pronounce and spell, it would be difficult to share it easily by word of mouth.

Apart from the actual domain name that you will use for your ecommerce shop, you also need to think about the top level domain name that you would use for your ecommerce shop. Traditionally, this was a no-brainer. You either used a .COM address or the relevant ccTLD address for your country. Now the landscape is very different and there are more than 1000 new gTLDs that you can choose from.

It is important to pick the right name for your business right from the start as changing the name along the way is going to significantly impact on your rankings, even with redirects. Right from the start, take your time to choose a domain name that you know you will stick with. A name around which you can build and keep your authority for years. Here are some of the Dos and Don’ts when it comes to picking a name for your business.

Use Your Brand Name

In case you are building a business brand, it is prudent to use your brand name as your domain name. If the name isn’t available, you may have to get a little more creative in picking the right domain name for your business.

Building for Search

If your aim is to rank better in the search engines, then you can pick a keyword based domain name. While the best keyword domain names have been snapped up in the .COM namespace, you can still get nice names in the ccTLDs and new gTLDs. You can also get a little creative in your naming by choosing two word or three word .COM domain names. Choose a domain name that accurately specifies what you are selling. An example is organicbeauty.com or naturalhair.com.

Choose Your Top Level Domain Name

If you are running a fairly conventional business, it is important to choose a domain name extension that your customers are familiar with. Most customers are generally quite familiar with a .COM domain name. Outside the US, the respective ccTLDs for every country are generally popular. Examples include .de for Germany, .co.uk for UK, .ch for Switzerland, .co.za for South Africa, .my for Malaysia, .jp for Japan etc. With the advent of new gTLDs, you can also choose some popular new gTLD domain name options such as .shop, .vip or club depending on the type of ecommerce website that you are planning to launch.

Don’t Go for Domain Names that are Not Related to Your Business

With the rising popularity of the brandable domain names, it is common to find a company choosing a domain that is practically meaningless but they go for it because it is a brandable domain name that sounds nice. Well that might not always work. Stick to your business name as much as possible.

Avoid Prefixes

Some businesses will add prefixes like “the”  or “my” when they miss the actual domain name. An example is theswimshop.com. It might not be a great idea especially if the name after the prefix belongs to a competitor. You will have to spend a lot of money on marketing to differentiate yourself with a prefix-ed domain name.

Avoid very long domain names

Keep your domain names short and precise. Long domain names are not easy to spell to remember. They also look professional. Always keep it very brief as much as is reasonably possible.

The New Top Level Domain Names That Are Perfect For Your Ecommerce Store

The best domain extension for an ecommerce website is still a .COM or a ccTLD. If you are targeting a US market or global market, you would be better off with a .COM domain name. If you are targeting a specific country or regional market, you will be better off with a ccTLD domain name. For example, for the German market, the most logical choice would be the .de ccTLD domain name. Many companies targeting the greater DACH market of Germany, Austria and Switzerland are likely to use a .de, .eu or a .com domain name. A South African company targeting the local South African market or the greater Southern African market is likely to use the domain name extension .co.za.

However, if you are looking for something quirky, and there are creative business ideas for which you will need a quirky domain name, you will be better off with an ecommerce-oriented new gTLD. So which ecommerce new gTLDs should use in case you are not interested in a .COM or .ccTLD?

Here are some nice new domains that will be great for ecommerce website:-

.SHOP

.SHOP Domain Name: .SHOP domain names are by the far the most popular new gTLD option that is targeted at ecommerce website. There are many advantages of .shop TLD and we have discussed them variously on our website. The most important is that it shows unmistakably that you are running a shop. When someone visits a website that ends in an extension .shop, they expect to find something to purchase. .shop is also globally recognized in virtually all countries making it our favourite new TLD for ecommerce website.

.STORE

.STORE domain names can be used interchangeably with the .shop domain names. Like .shop, the .store newTLD is both a noun and verb. Some have suggested that .STORE is more likely to appeal to a US market where a common term used to describe the small mom and pop shops is “STORE”. Personally, .shop appeals to me more than .store.

.XYZ

This is a quirky TLD extension that can be used for virtually anything. Many are using it for creative web projects, personal blogs, apps and many other kinds of innovative web projects. However, you can also use a .XYZ for an ecommerce website, especially when selling creative merchandise online.

.VIP

Want to build an ecommerce website offering exclusive services or catering to an exclusive clientele? Then a .VIP would be a perfect address for your needs. It is one of the most popular new gTLDs on the market right now. Use it also for a website offering premium services and products to your clients. Even if your products are not “exclusive”, using a .VIP creates a perception of good quality and exclusive products.

.CLUB

The .CLUB new gTLD is another popular address for ecommerce websites. The best use for a .CLUB domain name is for subscription services for products and services. Also, you can use a .CLUB domain name for an exclusive subset of your clients such as the loyalty club members or VIP members.

.GIFTS

This new gTLD offers very limited usage options but it is a great option to consider if you are planning to build a gifts ecommerce website. With a .gifts domain name, you can get precise and premium names that are precisely descriptive of the gift business you are investing in.

.SHOPPING

This is a very long one and might not appeal to everyone. The upside is that you will be able to get good quality premium domains with a very descriptive top level domain name. I wouldn’t recommend this, though, unless you have run out of options in the other TLDs mentioned above.

New gTLD Registries Demand ICANN Fee Reduction Due to Lack of Demand

Now, if you want a stark definition of self-defeating, here is one:

The gTLD Registries Stakeholder Group (RySG), which is an association representing the interests of generic top level domain name administrators is asking ICANN for a temporary reduction of the new gTLD registry fees citing lack of demand. Why are you surprised there is no demand when you price a second rate new gTLD at $60 or $300 per year?

Currently, the more than 1000 new gTLD registries are required to pay ICANN a registry fixed fee of $25,000 per year which is paid quarterly in fixed amounts of $6,250. Additionally, ICANN demands that the new gTLD registries that complete 50,000 transactions in any quarter pay a transaction fee of $0.25 per domain name.

This fee structure is only applicable to the registries under the new gTLD contract. The letter from RySG Chairman Paul Diaz states that only 63 new gTLD registries have so far registered over 50, 00 domain names. Hundreds more of new gTLD registries have fewer than 10,000 domains registered in their namespaces.

If a registry has to pay $25,000 fixed fee annually to ICANN, it is easy to see what it costs it to register a single name. If the registry, for example, has 1000 domain names under management, they have to pay ICANN $25 per domain name every year. Registries that have managed to register more domain names probably fare much better. With 50,000 domain names, the registries have to pay ICANN only $0.5 per domain name. Legacy gTLDs like .COM of course have different contract terms with ICANN. Verisign only has to pay ICANN $0.25 per domain name registered.

The new gTLD registries argue that a fixed contract fee of $25,000 will prevent them from offering end users competitive pricing for the new gTLD domain names. I think here is where you can spot their hypocrisy. They were not offering those “competitive prices” right from the beginning. The registries showed bad faith right from the word go. These are guys who decided they were going to exploit end users right from the launch date of their top level domain names in order to recoup their investments as quickly as possible.

The reason why the new gTLD registries are feeling the pinch is because they have priced themselves out of the market. The average global end user for a domain name is looking for a price in the region of $5 to $12 at the higher end. Now the new gTLD registries want you to pay anywhere from $50 to $300 for the .ooo .ninja .sucks domain names. A well managed domain namespace is eventually going to turn you a profit; you just have to be patient and have some business sense. Price the domain names right, do lots of promotions and bring out the value proposition and also be prepared to play the long game.  A perfect example is .SHOP. They invested more than $40 million in their new gTLD address, they have a long term vision of the TLD and they are not looking at recouping their investments in the first year or first five years. They are playing the long game and building an enduring business. But many of these upstarts want to break even in the first year!

Paul Diaz wants the new gTLD registries to be given the same terms as .COM which pays ICANN $0.25 per domain name registered. But Verisign has hundreds of millions of domains under .COM. There were 126 million .COM domains registered by the end of 2016 so at a price of $0.25 per domain, Verisign was paying ICANN at least $31 million from domain registrations alone. Besides, it should be emphasized again, they new gTLDs knew they were participating in a new top level domain name allocation program with a new set of rules and obligations so clutching onto that Verisign excuse doesn’t mean much here.

The new gTLD registries knew they were going to pay ICANN $25,000 per year in fixed registry fee no matter how they performed. So why should the rules be changed because of their poor business decisions? 

ICANN to Promote New gTLDs?

It doesn’t stop there. The sense of entitlement continues. The new gTLD registries not only want ICANN to reduce their fixed registry fees, they also want it to set up a $3 million global fund to promote the new gTLDs to end users globally. ICANN could draw the money from its pool of application fees collected over the past 4 years, they say, and take them under their arms, subsidising their operations as they rip off end users with registration fees of $50 to $300 per year for the .ooo .ninja .horse etc

That is not ICANN’s damn job! That is the job of the new gTLDs themselves. Every registry must devote proceeds from its overpriced domain names to do the promotion or simply fold and ship out. These guys are forgetting that they are running a business in which end users have plenty of options. The world will not stop because a new gTLD has collapsed. Users have hundreds of options to pick from. It is upon the new gTLD registries themselves to justify their existence.

It is not the fault of ICANN that the new gTLD registries are underperforming. Many of them don’t have the right business model or don’t even understand the registry business at all. Some of them invested in the registries because it was touted in many news channels like CNN as the “next internet goldrush” so they pumped money into the scheme hoping to make billions-like in the .COM boom-within a year or two only to be faced with the reality of $60,000 in annual revenues from domain registrations. They hoard premium domain names and list them for sale for tens of thousands of dollars or hundreds of thousands of dollars instead of selling them reasonably to end users who will develop them and increase the popularity of their namespace. It is not right to help these guys. Let them retune their business model and respond better to the realities of the domain name market and for those who can’t, let them choke on their greed. 

.AFRICA Sunrise Commences

If you have been following up on the domain name news, you must have heard of the .Africa controversy that dragged on for years and delayed the launch of the generic TLD for the African continent.

The other contestant finally lost a court injunction allowing ICANN to proceed with the delegation of the gTLD to the current contestant. The Sunrise period was launched on 4th April and is currently on going. If you are waiting to register for cheap during the general availability, you will have to wait until 4th of July. I don’t know about the resale value of the .africa domain name but I will definitely snap of these names and hold for a year of two.

Here is the timetable for the roll out of the .africa gTLD:-

4th April 2017 to 2nd June 2017:  .AFRICA Sunrise

5th June 2017 to 10th June 2017:  .AFRICA Landrush Phase I

12th June 2017 to 17th June 2017: .AFRICA Landrush Phase II

19th June 2017 to 24th June 2017: .AFRICA Landrush Phase III

26th June 2017 to 1st July 2017: .AFRICA Landrush Phase IV

4th July 2017 to 1st August 2017: .AFRICA General Availability

2nd August 2017 onwards: .AFRICA General Availability price reduction.

Put the centurion.shop domain name saga behind me

I recently received a trademark infringement notice from American Express and I blogged about it here and here. I even shared it on the domain forum NamePros.

The first letter came around March 9th and the next one March 23rd,  a space of two weeks between the two letters. I posted a discussion on NamePros and funnily enough, American Express trademark enforcement team contacted me 12 hours later saying they had closed the case and would not be pursuing it any further. Which meant I was free to use my domain name however I liked as long as I was not doing something stupid such as infringing on their marks.

Not sure whether my decision to post it on NamePros influenced the quick decision making to drop the case. I expected they were going all the way to the UDRP and was bracing myself with the right arguments on why my registration and usage was legitimate.  

Being a big corporation, perhaps they didn’t want a nasty and public fight over the domain name, or perhaps, the long rant I sent them was sufficient “assurance”.

All in all, I am happy to keep the domain name. I realised it is a valuable domain name in spite of insistence by some members of the forum that it is a “worthless” domain name. I have realised that the name “centurion” has been registered in almost all ccTLDs as well as in all the leading new gTLDs. That is a name in high demand.

Currently, I am 50-50 as to what to do with the name. I am planning on development but part of me wants to sell it to someone who will give me a great offer. Given its value, I am sure someone will be knocking on my doors soon :-). Hopefully, not with another weak trademark “infringement” notice.

goldleaf.shop domain name for sale

The www.goldleaf.shop is a wonderful domain name around which you can build your gold leaf business.

Gold leaf ice cream
Gold leaf ice cream

The art of making golf leaf is one of the most enduring in many cultures. In some countries such as Japan, gold leaf is still manufactured meticulously using traditional methods that have been passed down the generations. The gold leaf are put to a diverse array of uses ranging including as edible cake toppings!

Gold Leaf Cake Topping
Gold Leaf Cake Topping

Traditionally, the artisan gold leaf industry has mainly catered for the Buddhist altar as well as the altar accessory industry in Japan and other Buddhist cultures. Today, a large number of the gold leaf products are used in a host of craft goods such as lacquerware.

Gold Leaf Cake Toppings
Gold Leaf Cake Toppings

Today, the gold leaf is used in combination with Japanese craft techniques to make a vast array of high quality and luxury goods. One area where a lot of gold leaf is made is in the city of Kanazawa which is now known as the “Town of Gold Leaf” thanks to its gold leaf manufacturing tradition.

Gold Leaf Used in a Luxury Cocktail
Gold Leaf Used in a Luxury Cocktail

Quality gold leaf brings out the radiance in the gold and helps in crafting beautiful products that users can love and admire.

With a domain name like www.goldleaf.shop , you now have the perfect address on which to sell your gold leaf products and crafts. Get in touch today and get yourself the domain name www.goldleaf.shop

China is Now the Largest .SHOP Country

.shop domain name in China
.shop domain name in China

China has overtaken Germany to become the largest .SHOP country with 32, 329 domain names registered so far.

If you have been following the .SHOP registrations ever since the GMO Registry launched the .shop domains in general availability, the registrations have been dominated by Germany where the registrations are mostly driven by companies snapping the .shop versions of their names.

China .SHOP Country
China .SHOP Country

The momentum changed on December 29th 2016 when China’s Ministry for Industry and Information Technology approved .shop for the Chinese market. That saw the registrations pouring and China moved from a minor player in the .shop namespace to the biggest market currently.

I expect the Chinese registrations to continue at a steady rate for the rest of the year which is in line with China’s strong demand for the other new gTLDs. However, .shop also seems to have good currency with Chinese end users and businesses.

It is March and the .shop registrations currently stand at only 162,000 so unless .shop registry introduces XYZ-style domain promos, the total registrations may close the year just shy of 500,000 domain names.

Second American Express Notice for my Centurion Domain Name

In a previous post, I already covered a letter for notice infringement that I received from American Express. It is barely 10 days today and here is the second letter below. I told them basically the same things; that I didn’t think they hold exclusive rights to “centurion” and as long as my usage of the domain name constitute fair use, they have no business bothering me with emails. I am eager to see where they take it next. If they go the UDRP way, I will have to refine my arguments and present them to the panel. I have seen people win UDRP cases without even communicating with the panel. I on my part, plan to present my arguments as clearly as possible.

Here is the letter:-

Dear Domain Admin,

This is our SECOND communication with you. Please be advised that American Express Company or an affiliated company (“American Express”) is the owner of the well-known trademark and trade name Centurion.  As you are no doubt aware, Centurion is the trademark used to identify products, services, activities and events related to American Express.

In connection to American Express’s proprietary rights over its famous trademark we bring to your attention the following:

1) You have registered, without American Express’s permission or authorization, the domain name ‘centurion.shop’.  The Domain Name incorporates the famous Centurion mark in its entirety, and, by its very composition, suggests American Express’s sponsorship or endorsement of your website and correspondingly, your activities.

2) Your use of a Domain Name that incorporates the famous Centurion mark in its entirety constitutes trademark infringement and dilution of American Express’s trademark rights and unfair competition.  Your use of our mark in the Domain Name is diluting use because it weakens the ability of the Centurion mark and domain name to identify a single source, namely American Express.  Further, your registration and use of the Domain Name misleads consumers into believing that some association exists between American Express and you, which tarnishes the goodwill and reputation of American Express’s products, services, and trademarks.

In view of your infringement of our rights, we must demand that you provide written assurances that you will:

1. Immediately discontinue any and all use of the Domain Name;

2. Take immediate steps to transfer the Domain Name to American Express;

3. Identify and agree to transfer to American Express any other domain names registered by you that contain Centurion or are confusingly similar to the Centurion mark;

4. Immediately and permanently refrain from any use of the term Centurion or any variation thereof that is likely to cause confusion or dilution;

This letter is without prejudice to any of American Express’ rights and remedies, all of which are expressly reserved.

Sincerely,

American Express Trademark Enforcement

PanAm.shop Domain Name

It’s been weeks since I purchased a .shop domain name but today I just happened to visit my blog and got the PanAm domain idea. I think this would be a nice domain name for a PanAm souvenir or memorabilia shop.

Panam.shop: Great domain for a PanAm Shop!
Panam.shop: Great domain for a PanAm Shop!

While PanAm has been defunct for decades, I noticed there is a vibrant community of PanAm enthusiasts online selling PanAm merchandise including books and collectibles such as souvenir spoons, playing cards, Pan Am glasses, plates, stewardess pins, Pan Am uniforms, Pan Am cups and bowls, Pan Am forks, amenity kits, airplane models, eye covers, bags and many more.

Pan Am has long been gone for decades but many international travellers are still enamored by the airline. Some of the Pan Am shops that have encountered online include the following:-

A domain name like www.Panam.shop would be ideal for a souvenir shop dedicated to PanAm collectibles. If you are interested in getting this, please drop me a message.