How to Choose the Right Domain Name for Your E-Commerce Business

More consumers are shifting their spending online. 

Global e-commerce sales are expected to hit a staggering $3.4 trillion by 2025. And that figure shows no signs of slowing down (even during a global pandemic).

Now you want in on the action. You know about platforms like Shopify and how they can help you build an online store with little technical experience.

But before you can do any of that, there’s one thing you need — a domain name.

Choosing a domain name is by no means easy as it’s your brand name as well. Making things even harder is the fact that a lot of “good” domains are already taken or listed for sale at high prices.

If you want to know how you can choose a domain name for your e-commerce business, then you’re in the right place. We’ll provide actionable tips that you can put to use today to find a domain name.

Let’s get started.

1. Choose a Brandable Name

Domain names are strongly linked to branding. Choosing a memorable domain name helps you stand out from the competition and makes it easier for your audience to find you online.

If you already have a business name, it’s in your best interest to register that exact domain. For example, if you own a business called YogaVana, try to get that exact domain. Otherwise, a competitor may attempt to register that same name and direct traffic to their own site.

A good brand name is one that’s distinctive and memorable. Here are some tips to help you brainstorm the perfect name for your e-commerce business:

  • Use a founder’s name: Consider using your first or last name as part of your domain name (e.g., Abercrombie & Fitch, Ben & Jerry’s, Bang & Olufsen).
  • Make it descriptive: Choose a name that describes what your business does or sells (e.g., General Motors, Toys R Us, KitchenAid).
  • Create a made up name: Create an entirely made up brand name that’s not in the dictionary (e.g., Accenture, Häagen-Dazs, Kodak).
  • Choose a foreign word: Consider using foreign words as inspiration (e.g., the word “Zappos” comes from the Spanish word Zapatos, which means shoes).

Use these tips to help you brainstorm different brand names for your store.

2. Keep it Short

What do Apple, BMW, and Disney have in common? Aside from being on the Fortune 500 list, these companies have short brand names.

Similarly, when choosing a domain name for your Shopify store, you’ll want to opt for a shorter name. They’re easier to remember and visitors will be able to type them directly into their browser much faster.

What about adding keywords to your domain for SEO?

Registering a keyword domain like BestCheapYogaMatsForSale.com generally isn’t a good idea for two reasons: They appear spammy and they limit what you can promote.

Anyone who sees that domain in the search results might be hesitant to shop there (wouldn’t you?) and they might think your store only sells yoga mats. If you can fit a keyword into your domain name, then by all means but don’t try to force it in. 

For reference, the maximum character limit for domain names (without the www and .com) is 63 characters. However, try to register a domain name with 20 characters or less.

3. Avoid Hyphens

You finally come up with a great name for your online store. But then you see the following when you’re about to register:

Seeing that a domain name is already registered is incredibly frustrating. It means that you’ll have to go back to the drawing board and brainstorm new names.

What about adding a hyphen to your domain name?

Adding a hyphen can make your preferred domain name become available. It can also improve readability by separating words (e.g., awesome-brand.com). But you’ll want to avoid using hyphens if possible.

Let’s say you’re creating a radio ad for your website Century-Yoga-Studio.com. You would need to tell listeners not to forget the hyphen when they check out your website. If they do forget to add the hyphen, you’ll essentially be driving free traffic to a competing site.

This isn’t to say that domains with hyphens can’t be successful. Chick-fil-A actually has two hyphens in its domain name:

4. Consider Other Extensions

It’s always a good idea to register the .com extension of your brand name — it’s more widely used than other extensions and a majority of online users are familiar with it. 

But if the .com extension is unavailable for your preferred domain name, then you might consider other extensions like .net or .org.

You could also consider other top-level domains. For example, Emirates has its primary site on emirates.com where travelers can check ticket prices and book flights. The airline also has emirates.store to sell official merchandise.

Registering the .store extension allows Emirates to create a clear distinction between its main website and online store.

But it’s important to pay attention to the price for these types of extensions. WebsiteSetup.org says, “Before making a purchase, make sure to always check what the domain name cost is going to be to renew the domain once the initial registration period is up.”

For example, buying the .store domain from Hover is $4.99 for the first year, but then the price rises to $64.99 every year after that.

In contrast, most domain name registrars will charge the same annual price for the .com (about $10 a year) when you renew.

5. Check for Copyrights

Even after you find a great domain name for your e-commerce business, you still need to check that you’re not infringing on any existing trademarks. Otherwise, you could potentially lose your domain or even get into legal trouble. 

If you’re thinking of creating an online store to sell technology products, then definitely don’t name your store something like CheapAppleStuff.com.

If your business is located in the US for example, check the trademark database from the US Patent and Trademark Office. This database will let you see if any trademarks are already registered or applied for.

If the database returns a list of trademarks that are similar to the domain name you want to register, you may need to find another name. One exception is if your website offers products or services that are different from the registered trademark. 

For example, you can likely register FreshAppleFarm.com if you sell apples as customers likely won’t confuse your business with the technology company.

When in doubt, consider working with a licensed attorney who specializes in trademark law to make sure that your brand name won’t run into any legal trouble.

Conclusion

But one of the biggest challenges is finding the right name. You may find that the domain you wanted is either already registered or offered for sale at a high price.

Follow the tips outlined here to help with this process. Be patient and make sure to do your due diligence before you register a domain name.

This is a guest post contribution by Lily-Anne Greene. Lily-Anne is a freelance writer with prior experience in corporate branding. She now specializes in content marketing and social media strategy.

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