Maintaining your online brand reputation, share of voice, and online sales is key for any business. Owning the right domain names is a key piece of this successful equation. In this post, we will be examining how domain acquisition of the right domains – both branded and generic – specifically for the Retail industry have helped certain brands maintain and, in some cases, establish dominance.

How Dick’s Sporting Goods Used Domain Acquisition To Increase Traffic

Entering 2011, Dick’s Sporting Goods (DSG) used DicksSportingGoods.com as their exclusive URL for consumers to navigate to authentic DSG content. With a domain over 20-characters in length, the company relied solely on a relatively long and cumbersome domain name.

 

This domain aligned with their intended brand identity- how a company wants to be perceived by consumers, but departs from their brand image – how consumers actually perceive the brand . What could owning shorter versions of their name do for them? Would dicks.com for example aid them?

 

We took a look at consumer traffic trends over the course of 2010 to both DicksSportingGoods.com and another domain they did not own at the time, Dicks.com.

 

As the figure below shows, you will notice that both domains trend in an identical manner – note the spike in November and December corresponding to the holiday season and the fluctuation in the summer months (these trends are circled below). These trends suggest that visitors to Dicks.com were trying to find DSG.

 

 

Based upon the ownership history (DSG acquired Dicks.com in early 2011) it is plausible that the company realized they could have been missing out on up to 100,000 visitors per month by not owning the shorter Dicks.com domain. If you take a look today Dicks.com currently redirects to DicksSportingGoods.com content.

 

To further illustrate the point, DSG around the same time as their domain acquisition of Dicks.com, acquired DSG.com, which currently receives over 10,000 visitors per month.[1]

 

As you can see domain acquisition cannot only improve your retail company’s site traffic but also aid in maintaining your online brand protection needs.

 

How Branded Domain Acquisition Aided True Religion Brand Jeans

Another great example of maintaining your online brand through domain acquisition can be found with another retailer in a niche, high-end clothing industry: True Religion Brand Jeans.

 

For nearly ten years, from 2005 through 2014, True Religion used their full brand name as their main URL, TrueReligionBrandJeans.com, and they did not own the shorter version of their domain TrueReligion.com.

 

As the retailer grew in prominence and popularity over the years it became clear that not owning the shorter version of their name had major online brand protection implications. The owner of TrueReligion.com, prior to 2014: “…maintained the site for years, preaching in English that Islam is the one, true religion and Mohammed its prophet – attracting very few viewers.” [2]

 

Regardless of the owner’s intentions for the domain, it is likely that consumers navigated to the domain looking to find the retail company:

“…in 2009, the site began getting up to 1,000 hits a day. [He] soon realized visitors were looking for the clothing company.[3]

After failing in its attempts to recover the domain through legal means, as the domain was registered years before the jean retailer was founded,[4] True Religion Brand Jeans appears to have succeeded in their domain acquisition efforts in early May 2014.

 

To illustrate the domain’s importance to the brand, TrueReligion.com currently garners over 600,000 visitors per month, whereas TrueReligionBrandJeans.com collects just over 50,000.

 

Data shows that the shorter the domain, the easier if is for consumers to remember it, which is why you will see companies purchasing the more succinct versions of their company’s brand names.

 

How Generic Domain Acquisitions Benefit Retailers

Aside from acquiring the right branded domains for their businesses, we have seen retailers leverage their domain acquisitions of generic domains that contain keywords that clearly define their corner of their respective industries.

 

In 2013, WellPoint Inc., then the operators of 1-800-Contacts, was using Glasses.com as a redirect to 1-800-Contacts content. Sadly, if you were a consumer navigating to Glasses.com with the hope of finding a new pair of eyewear, you would be left wholly disappointed.

 

Seeing inherent value in owning the domain which most-clearly defines their industry, in early 2014, Luxottica, the major eyewear retailer with name brands that include Ray-Ban, Oakley, Persol and operator of the brick and mortar stores LensCrafters and Sunglass Hut, acquired Glasses.com from WellPoint.

 

Fast-forward three years and Glasses.com has been developed into a core ecommerce business platform for the company, with the domain garnering the seventh most visitors per month of all the domains in their portfolio. Glasses.com even outranks their other brands at Persol.com and PearlVision.com.

 

Looking at a more recent generic domain acquisition example, in early January of 2017, the former Canadian ecommerce business Shoes.com began shutting down its ecommerce platforms on ShoeMe.com and Shoes.com, as it came to light that the company had filed for bankruptcy.

 

ShoeBuy.com, a Walmart company, competitor to Amazon’s ecommerce behemoth Zappos.com, capitalized on the liquidation of assets and acquired the Shoes.com domain in early April of this year.

 

The domain now resolves to almost identical content as ShoeBuy.com, and does not appear to have undergone significant development. Yet it is still receiving around 220,000 visitors per month, helping to generate otherwise lost ground on its competitor.

 

ShoeBuy.com currently trails Zappos.com by roughly 13,000,000 visitors per month,[5] but after its domain acquisition, it is clear that ShoeBuy, benefitted from a healthy amount of consumer retention based on the strength of the domain itself.

 

ShoeBuy sought an advantage and may have perceived the importance of domain acquisition for a generic industry-defining domain that is a more intuitive, consumer-facing alternative to their highly successful competitor Zappos.com.

 

It will be interesting to see if Walmart ultimately transitions its footwear eCommerce business from ShoeBuy.com to Shoes.com entirely.

 

Conclusion

In short, consumers prefer the shorter domain alternatives when navigating to a company’s online content. Knowing your brand and how consumers perceive your brand image can be beneficial to owning the right domain names for your business.

 

Properly leveraging branded or generic industry-defining domains can be game-changing assets for an established or emerging business. Domain name acquisition is an important key to your online success.

 

I think in the article, it actually says, according to court transcripts, that the owner did intend to profit off of the brand image. “He decided to take advantage of the situation.

 

He started using Google’s Adsense and later became an Amazon.com affiliate, programs that paid him fees to display ads that allowed visitors to click to sites where they could buy True Religion and other products.”

 

Maybe we should frame it where, regardless of the owner’s intentions (they could be good or malicious), it is important to own because you never know?

 

 

[1] SimilarWeb Traffic Tool, captured 4.17.17.

[2] 12, 2013 Edward Mason. November. “Who Is Master of Internet Domains? – The Boston Globe.” BostonGlobe.com. N.p., 12 Nov. 2013. Web. 18 Apr. 2017. <http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2013/11/12/who-master-internet-domains/madqVLtUlVRzun9nyge6kO/story.html#comments>.

[3] 12, 2013 Edward Mason. November. “Who Is Master of Internet Domains? – The Boston Globe.” BostonGlobe.com. N.p., 12 Nov. 2013. Web. 18 Apr. 2017. <http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2013/11/12/who-master-internet-domains/madqVLtUlVRzun9nyge6kO/story.html#comments>.

[4] Ibid.

[5] SimilarWeb Traffic Tool, captured 4.17.17.

Tim Broughton

Tim Broughton

Associate at FairWinds Partners
Tim specializes in targeting and educating corporations looking to strengthen their digital brands through comprehensive market research.
Tim Broughton
How Domain Acquisition Can Help the Retail Industry’s Bottom Line

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