It’s been a long time coming, but you’ve finally decided to launch an online store. Congrats! If you have your brand and domain names figured out at this stage of the game, consider yourself fortunate. For most start-up shops, this task can bring up unexpected challenges. There are, however, things you can do when a choosing an ecommerce name to nip those challenges in the bud.
Before you settle on a brand name, for example, always consider the domain name. There’s nothing more discouraging than finding the perfect brand name, only to find out the domain name is taken. And they must go hand-in-hand; your URL is how customers will find your store online. If your brand name doesn’t come up in searches, you will lose valuable customers, traffic and sales.
Your ecommerce name is also set in stone, so to speak. Remember in June 2011 when the online retailer Overstock.com attempted to rebrand itself as O.co? By November, the company had already started restoring the original Overstock name to its website and social media channels following customer confusion. Your ecommerce name is not something that can easily be changed. Make sure the one you pick works on all fronts.
Here are some tips to consider when choosing an ecommerce name:
Be unique. Don’t emulate a competitor. Naming your toy business We "R" Toys, for example, only highlights a lack of creativity. Plus, your customers will see through your tactics and think of your business as playing second fiddle to a bigger brand.
Get creative. Zappos doesn’t exactly scream shoes, but they’ve made it stick. Not only is it quirky, but it’s easy for customers to remember. Same goes for the brand Etsy, which sees 15.6 million monthly unique visitors. Choosing a creative brand name also increases the likelihood the domain name will be available.
Keep it short. Finding a single-word domain is like hitting the jackpot. Not only is a short domain name easy to remember, it’s also easier for customers to type into a browser. Try to keep yours under three words.
Check domain availability. There are a few ways you can check a domain’s availability. You can type the URL into search or you can search for the domain on a site like Whois Lookup. If the domain you really want is taken, you do have the option to buy it. But before you contemplate buying a pre-purchased domain:
- Check what it’s currently being used for. Does it have an active homepage? If so, you may be out of luck. If not, you can offer to buy it by contacting the owner directly.
- Consider what you’re willing to pay for it. Depending on the domain name, you could be shelling out anywhere from $200 to $200,000.
Choose the right extension. There are so many extensions, such as .com, .org, .net, .co, and .us. For ecommerce, we recommend choosing .com for your top-level domain (TLD), as well as the countries you will be targeting (grab .ca if your target audience is based in Canada, for example).
Check for trademarks. Think you found the perfect name? Make sure it’s not already trademarked. You’ll want to be able to trademark your own name to stave off copyright problems in the future.
Search social media. Make sure your new brand name isn’t already taken on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If the handles are available, don’t wait to snatch them up. You can always delete the profiles if your name doesn’t pan out.
Keep it simple, stupid. Leave out odd letter substitutions (think “sk8ter”), which will make your domain hard to remember. This includes hyphens. Most importantly, make sure your domain is easy to spell and pronounce. Pronunciation matters with more and more people using voice search.
The bottom line? You want your brand name to match your domain name whenever possible. This will make it easier for customers to find your ecommerce business by typing your name into a search engine, browser address bar or by speaking.
The experience can be a bit frustrating, especially when it seems every idea you have is already taken. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your brand name. Use an online brand name generator like Name Mesh to get more ideas.
Above all, be patient. Your brand name is one of the most important steps when launching a new ecommerce business. Getting it right will be worth it in the long run.