This January, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will begin accepting applications for new extensions of generic top-level domains (gTLDs). What exactly do all these acronyms have to do with you? Well, probably quite a bit if you’re part of a retail organization that conducts business online. Now is the time to take a moment and learn about the information you’ll need to prepare your legal , e-commerce, and branding teams.
Here are the top five things you need to know about gTLD expansion:
- Death of the dot-com? Well, sort of. In a few short months, ICANN is expanding the availability of generic top-level domains from the familiar .com, .org, .edu, and country specific top-level domains to include just about any word, from .shop or .retail to .sale or .YourBrandHere. This expansion will allow brands to turn their names into internet extensions.
- Prepare for the cyber-squatters. Some retailers are considering registering multiple variations of their company names and brands to protect themselves from competitors or unauthorized users. To adequately plan, retailers need to know the approximate number of extensions that will be granted and the full time frame.
- Warn your finance team about the application and legal fee estimates. According to the National Retail Federation, application feeds for EACH new domain has been set by ICANN at $185,000, with estimates that companies will need to spend a total of approximately $250,000 per application, when all legal fees and consultants are included.
- Consumer confusion. Although the ability to control a domain may create new branding opportunities for retailers, one of the biggest fears of organizations including the National Retail Federation and the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) is that a proliferation of similar names may lead to consumer confusion. This confusion may ward off those already hesitant about online security, potentially impacting the thriving digital retail industry.
- Act now. Shop.org and the National Retail Federation have requested more time from the Commerce Department that oversees ICANN for its members to receive critical information from ICANN about the number of new domain names that will be available as well as additional details as to the process going forward, etc. In the meantime, we’d encourage Shop.org members to join the Shop.org Policy Advisory Group to join the conversation with ICANN as representatives of the retail industry.