.shop is the most anticipated Top-Level-Domain launching in 2016. On 26 September 2016 the General Availability for .shop starts. To ease the waiting we have interviewed Hiro Tsukahara, CEO of GMO Registry Inc., the company that manages the Top-Level-Domain .shop.
Tsukahara-san, how and why did you choose to apply for the Top-Level-Domain .shop? Did you expect many competitors?
Tsukahara: That’s a great question, and it goes right back to the beginning of our history. GMO Registry was established with the objective of acquiring .shop. Our parent company is a registrar with over 15 years of experience in the domain industry in Japan, and is also very involved in the ecommerce industry. Based on our industry experience, we saw a clear opportunity for a domain that was dedicated to the ecommerce sector.
What did you expect from the .shop-auction? A tougher bidding battle with your competitors Amazon und Google? A higher/lower winning bid?
Tsukahara: It was difficult to know what to expect going into the auction. There were seven applicants in the race so it was a very diverse field. Of course we knew that we were up against some big players, but we also knew that everyone would be going in with a budget commensurate to what they believed .shop to be worth. In an ICANN public auction, you don’t see who you are bidding against during the auction, only how many bidders are remaining so I can’t comment on Amazon or Google, but needless to say I think it was a pretty tough bidding battle. For us in Tokyo, the auction started at 1:00am and concluded more than 9 hours later, after 10am the next day. In the last three hours there was only one other bidder still in the race.
I would have to say that we are satisfied with the winning bid, even more so now that we have seen the results of the .web auction. We believe very strongly in the potential of .shop and that is what defined our bidding strategy.
With 41.5 million US$ .shop is the second most expensive new generic Top-level-Domain acquired in an auction. What are your plans to make .shop profitable?
Tsukahara: We believe .shop has enormous potential. If you look at the market, the global ecommerce market has grown over 20% year-over-year for the past 5 years and continues to expand, yet in most countries ecommerce penetration is still in the single digits. .shop is coming to market at a time when we are still at the dawn of the ecommerce industry and is well positioned to grow in line with the industry.
But .shop is not only a domain for ecommerce. The potential market includes other online businesses including digital content and ecommerce solutions providers as well as the growing B2B ecommerce market, as well as offline shops such as small businesses not ready to move into ecommerce but want to be able to communicate with their customers online or even offline services such as a nail salon or dry cleaning service. We plan to appeal to all of these markets.
How many registrations do you expect within the first 24 hours after General Availability? Do you believe the launch of .shop will outperform .vip and .online registration numbers?
Tsukahara: The first 24 hours is always an exciting time in the launch of a new gTLD and we will certainly be watching the numbers closely, but we are taking a slightly longer view in our go to market strategy. Our goal is to reach 1 million registrations within the first year. I can say that we are seeing an incredible amount of interest in .shop from Internet users around the world, and registrars are reporting strong pre-registrations. I am confident that .shop will have a great first day.
Do you expect many registrations from China?
Tsukahara: Yes. I have travelled to China a number of times over the past few months and have had some really encouraging discussions with Chinese registrars and domain investors. “Shop” is one of the few English terms understood and used in China and there is definitely interest from the Chinese market. Not only is China currently the largest market for new gTLDs, it is also the largest ecommerce market in the world so we see a lot of opportunity in working with China. We are now in the process of establishing a local company so that we can apply for the government license required for all registry operators. Once we have this, Chinese Internet users will be able to use .shop.
Who would you recommend to participate in the Early-Access-Program?
Tsukahara: Unlike other new gTLDs the .shop EAP runs for 26 days. This extended period is aimed at accommodating strong demand for .shop domain names. We want to make sure that as many people as possible have the opportunity to participate. For trademark holders that may have already secured their brand name during Sunrise, the EAP is a great opportunity to pick-up generic terms that are relevant to their industry verticals. Any offline business that is considering moving into ecommerce could also really benefit by picking a catchy, relevant name that would provide a competitive advantage in marketing and branding right from the start. I would also encourage existing ecommerce businesses to participate of course. Even businesses that are happy with their current primary online address, may find a use for a secondary domain name in promotions or other special events. Domainers looking to build a business around a brandable name will also find some great opportunities in EAP. The .shop EAP is open to all, and all are most welcome to participate.
Do you have any plans on adding additional services to the domain itself?
Tsukahara: A great domain name is just one of the tools an ecommerce business needs, going forward there may be opportunities to partner with other ecommerce solutions providers and if that would contribute to the success of .shop businesses then we would certainly want to consider those.
.shop isn’t the only shopping related Top-Level-Domain. .store has just been launched and .shopping is starting its General Availability a few days after .shop. Do you believe these TLDs will affect the number of .shop registrations? What sets .shop apart from these two Top-Level-Domains?
One of the core objectives of the new gTLD program was after all to increase consumer choice and competition, and I think creating this choice will benefit ecommerce businesses and online consumers. All three are great names and each has their strengths. .shop is a short and meaningful TLD, that Internet users will instantly identify as a place where they can shop. The word “shop” is recognized and understood in many languages and cultures around the world so it would be a great online address for any ecommerce business operating in multiple geographies. I believe that this universal recognition gives .shop the potential to truly become the global home of ecommerce. “Shop” is also a great term because of its versatility. As both a noun and a verb, .shop works equally well as a business identifier or a call to action. As well as being used as a primary address for an ecommerce business it could also be used for promotions such as a summer sale or other special event.
What is your vision for the .shop TLD for the next ten years?
Tsukahara: Just as we associate addresses like Rodeo Drive in LA or the Avenue des Champs Elysées in Paris that we instantly associate with shopping, we are aiming for .shop become the ultimate destination to shop online. At the same time we hope to contribute to the success of both online and offline businesses that choose a .shop domain name and to support and encourage innovation and development in ecommerce.
Do you have any comments on the .web auction?
Tsukahara: .shop and .web are two of the most highly anticipated strings to come out of the new gTLD program. The fact that the two strings represent the two highest grossing ICANN public auctions is testament to their value.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about .shop?
Tsukahara: Thank you to United Domains for opportunity to speak about .shop here. We look forward to keeping you updated on our progress as we move through the launch phases as well as future developments in .shop.
Thank you Tsukahara-san for taking the time to answer our questions.
On 26 September 2016 the General Availability for .shop launches and on 1 September 2016 .shop opens the Early-Access-Programm (EAP).
Alle Informationen zur Top-Level-Domain .shop: