What will a new gTLD do for retail IT?

The application process for new generic-top level domains (gTLDs) has opened and continues through April 12, 2012, allowing for new extensions to enter the scene as options for helping organize online content.  Many of the anticipated gTLDs ( about 300+) will be specific by industry or by geography, leaving under 100 that are anticipated to be truly generic and of interest to the public.  Articles have been written about protecting trademarks and other IP by checking the application list once it becomes public, however the benefits of these domains are often overlooked, says Jeff Smith, CEO of Commercial Connect LLC, which is applying again for .shop.  Dotshop was first presented for delegation in 2000, although ICANN chose not to take action and will again consider the application.

“Ours, .shop, is a hybrid between general public and specific use.  Our goal is to make the internet more stable, secure, and intuitive.  If you use .shop, your customers will know where to go.  For the past, 12 years we have been presenting our ideas to the retail section and those that care about ecommerce,” he said.

Smith was at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show to educate NRF and Shop.org board members in one-to-one informal meetings on gTLDs, and with other corporations in attendance.  Richard Last, chairman emeritus of Shop.org, serves on the board of Commercial Connect LLC.

“We think that those who took time to understand our mission and purpose will get behind it, and agree with our proposed application for delegation,” Smith said.  He contends that he and others looking for delegation in various industries, are willing to talk with naysayers and supporters alike, but that there is no significant objection to delegation of new gTLDs tied to retail, outside of some initial concerns around timing.  DotShop is soliciting support and comments via its website.

“The strings cannot be confusing, according to the guidebook, which could mean that it is unlikely there will be both a .store and a .shop,” Smith added.  “In the multinational ecommerce community .shop transcends the language barriers of understanding.”

How ICANN will decide which gTLD string applications to evaluate first when this year is still under a question mark.  ICANN has not spoken to priorities of even the anticipated applications yet.

Whatever the selection process, ecommerce-centric retailers represent a growing portion of a $200 billion industry, which adds $20 billion a year, according to Ian Sigalow, a co-founder of Greycraft Partners, as reported on Bloomberg’s news channel (Jan. 19th), bigger than search or display advertising.

A MaxPoint Interactive survey at the National Retail Federation show indicated 101 New Rules for Retail, many of which tie retailers even closer to ecommerce.  A sampling:

  • Use mobile to drive customers to the store
  • Step up our Web strategy to better compete against Amazon
  • Create a seamless cross-channel experience
  • Extend touch points to more channels – give customers the opportunity to interact with us on their terms
  • Be positioned for change – technology is changing the way retailers reach consumers and, as retailers, we need to be ready to reach them everywhere
  • Better engagement on our site to keep customers on our site longer

Smith indicated that .Shop under Commercial Connect LLC would package other partnerships and services useful to the ecommerce site.  Many of the larger technology companies found at the NRF’s Big Show are looking for partnerships to push out omni-channel experiences, like IBM, which announced its Smarter Commerce initiative and package at NRF’s Big Show.