New gTLDs: Helping Retail Brands Own a Slice of the Internet

By Stuart Fuller


As more and more brands move online in today’s digital world, the importance of building a strong online presence grows. Retailers in particular are using e-commerce websites as a way to expand their reach and capitalise on international trade. These opportunities are undeniably healthy for the company’s profits, however in an extremely crowded ecommerce marketplace they run the risk of getting lost. This is when strong branding becomes essential, and building a brand’s presence online should form part of its sales and marketing strategy to help it stand out from the crowd.

Retailers have embraced the multi-channel shopping experience by adopting a strategy which includes a mix of bricks-and-mortar stores, online and mobile. This ensures that they meet the needs of an increasingly technology savvy customer who has convenience at the top of their wish list.

Consumers now visit physical stores to browse products before going online to check pricing in order to get the best bargain. This highlights the need for retailers’ online platforms to mirror the deals and products available in their bricks-and-mortar stores, and vice-versa, so that they can offer consumers a consistent shopping experience across all channels.

While online platforms offer retailers many opportunities, brands must be made aware of the risks associated with trading on digital platforms. One case reported last year saw Walmart, the US supermarket, offer to match select online prices of PlayStation 4 consoles. However its cashiers were quickly presented with Amazon listings showing $400 consoles being offered for $100 or less, revealing a surprising amount of counterfeit products available online. Cases like this not only demonstrate how online counterfeits can have a negative impact on a retailer’s revenue, but also how they can be detrimental to brand reputation.
The launch of thousands of new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) has meant that brands are now faced with even more threats, as the opportunities for domain name hijacking, cybersquatting, traffic diversion and counterfeiting have all grown as a result.

Brands must ensure they are protected from threats like these by monitoring for any online infringements and taking action where necessary to protect their intellectual property. What’s more, retailers need to educate their customers on what to look out for when shopping online to make sure they don’t get conned by seemingly attractive offers.

Despite these threats, the new domain name endings also offer opportunities for retailers to use web addresses to their advantage and refresh their customer-facing digital strategies. For example, brands now have the opportunity to buy dotShop, dotSale and dotOnline as well as their own dotBRAND website endings, allowing them to own a specific slice of the internet – names like dotChanel, dotGucci and dotHermes have already been registered. Companies using their own dotBRAND domain name will increasingly be seen as “safe harbours” by consumers, as only a legitimate brand can apply for its dotBRAND domain name. By taking this approach, retailers are able to increase customer trust online.