Target and Toys R Us posted overall sales declines during the holidays.
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Although the flood of new gTLDs isn't expected to hit the web until early next year, retailers can take a few steps to prepare for them before they arrive, Sass of .Club Domains says. First, they can register their trademarks with ICANN's Trademark Clearinghouse. Any retailer who does becomes eligible for first dibs on many of the new gTLDs during a "sunrise period," usually 30 or 60 days when brands with trademarks related to the domain's category are able to purchase or bid on (if multiple brands are interested) their desired web addresses. For instance, online shoe retailer Zappos Inc., an Amazon company, could purchase Zappos.shoes in the sunrise period for ".shoes," before the domain becomes publicly available. The Trademark Clearinghouse charges $150 per year per trademark, with discounts for multiyear registrations.
Retailers can also preregister directly with registries that they know will be selling the gTLDs they're interested in, Sass says. That way they will be notified as soon as a particular domain is eligible for sale; retailers that also register their trademarks with the clearinghouse will receive those notifications at the start of the sunrise period. Most major registries offer this service, including 1&1 Internet Inc., which says so far the top 10 preregistered domains on its site are: .web, .inc, .blog, .online, .shop, .news, .app, .tech, .site and .mail. As of mid-September, nearly 1.5 million organizations had pre-registered with 1&1 Internet, according to a live counter on its web site.
With so much interest already in the new gTLDs, retailers that don't seize the opportunity to reinvent their online presence may find themselves a step behind their competitors' newer, more relevant e-destinations.