With a little research you could secure your desired domain without wasting money
If you have a .SHOP domain pre-ordered, you might be wondering whether you should schedule your domain for registration during the Early Access Period — which just started September 1st and lasts until the 24th— or risk waiting for General Availability to start on September 26th.
The Early Access Period (EAP) is broken up into seven phases, each lasting a few days. The setup is first-come, first-served, and similar to a Dutch Auction, where prices drop the longer the item (your desired domain) is available.
Generally, the earlier you attempt to register the domain you want, the better your chance of securing it. The tradeoff is that the price drops with each EAP phase, so registering earlier costs more. Y0u could get the same domain for a much lower price if you wait for a later EAP phase, but all the while you’d be leaving the domain vulnerable to registration by someone else. What to do?
Simply put, it’s all about finding that balance between what you’re willing to spend and how sought-after you anticipate the domain to be. Then again, it’s impossible to know how many people want a domain exactly, right?
Well, yes, it isn’t possible to get an exact headcount of your competitors, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have the tools to make an educated guess of the best time to submit your .SHOP domain for registration. Here are some steps to help you calculate when to pounce on your desired .SHOP domain name.
Set your budget
Eliminate any EAP phases that exceed your budget. Remember, a phase’s EAP fee is added on top of the domain’s registration fee, but it only applies to the first year of registration. You would only pay the domain’s standard renewal fee from there on in. General Availability has no added fee whatsoever.
Check other domains’ availability
Do a search to check the availability of your pre-ordered .SHOP domain under other domain extensions. For example, if you wanted to pre-order “mikesflowers.shop”, search for just “mikesflowers”.
Keep scrolling to see more domain extensions. We offer over 400 domain extensions, so you’ll get a healthy sampling of the term’s popularity among other domains.
If you see the domain is Already Taken under numerous other extensions, there’s a good chance that the .SHOP version will be taken quickly, too. However, if there are hardly any other domains taken, it’s probably fair to say that the .SHOP will probably not be in such high demand.
Now, copy any matching domains that are Already Taken and paste them into your word processor of choice. Even if only one or two domains are taken, you can still wring some useful information out of them in the next steps.
Check the domains’ relevance to the .SHOP extension
You can weigh the taken domains’ impact on your decision by their relevance to the .SHOP domain extension.
For example, if your desired .SHOP is taken under the similar .STORE domain extension, this should factor more heavily into your decision since the extensions are related. On the other hand, a registration under .WTF likely doesn’t indicate as much of a threat.
Check when the domains were registered, and for how long
If a domain’s owner has registered it for a long time (one year or more), you can assume that the owner values the name more than if they’d only registered it for one year. While a registrant can extend a domain’s registration term past the first year, a short, recent registration doesn’t show as much commitment as a multiple-year domain registration.
Also, If a domain owner registered their domain right after it became available — say on the first day of the domain extension’s General Availability phase, or during Sunrise, Landrush, or EAP — you can assume the owner wanted the domain more than if they’d waited to get it later.
If any domains on your list end with a new domain extension like .BIKE or .CLUB, you can quickly find the dates for this extension’s launch, and cross-check those dates with the date of the domain’s registration.
Regardless of the domain’s extension, you should first checking its Whois details to find its registration date. This is easy with ICANN’s Whois Lookup tool.
Whois results usually refer to the date a domain was registered as the Created Date. You can also check how long the individual has registered the domain for by checking the Registration Expiration Date (sometimes called the Expiry Date).
If you’re checking a domain with a new extension, you should next find out when the domain extension was released.
Run a search for a new domain extension using nTLDStats’ Launch Calendar. For instance, if I had the domain “uniteddomains.bike”, I’d type in “bike”.
If necessary, set the From and To dates to a range between today and anytime before 2013.
Your results should look something like this:
In the results, compare the taken domain’s Created Date against the Start and End dates of each release phase (except for General Availability, which is the final release phase and is therefore ongoing).
If the domain was registered well after General Availability began, it probably represents less danger than if it were registered right when General Availability began, or during earlier phases like Sunrise or Landrush.
A domain that is claimed during Sunrise or Landrush may not be created immediately, which can skew the reliability of the domain’s Created Date if it appears to fall during Sunrise or Landrush. Generally, if you see a domain that appears to have been registered on the first day of a phase, you may want to play it safe by assuming it was registered during the phase preceding it.
Check who registered each domain
Knowing who owns a domain can help you guess the likelihood that this party would also want to register your desired .SHOP domain name.
You can find a domain’s registrant by checking its Whois information, like you did when checking the domain’s dates. Unless Whois Privacy services are active for the domain, the owner should be under the Registrant Contact and/or Admin Contact.
If the domain’s registrant is a large company or brand, the chances are more likely that they’ll attempt to register the matching .SHOP domain earlier in the EAP phase. Depending on who the registrant is, you can better assess the optimal EAP phase to choose.
If it appears that one party has registered several of the “taken” domains on your list, this should also weigh into your decision.
Step it up
If you’ve ever participated in an auction, it is usually not advisable to bid exactly what you think the item is worth. For example, if you estimate the item’s value to be $500.00, your bid should therefore be a little higher than that.
If you apply that strategy to .SHOP’s Early Access Period, it could be strategically advantageous to “one-up” your own estimate of the domain’s value by finding the phase matching your estimate, then choosing the phase that comes before it. This may be your best method if the previous steps have led you to expect competition, provided it wouldn’t take you over-budget.
Even if a trademark holder is eligible to claim their matching .SHOP domain during the Sunrise Period, the considerable cost of Sunrise registration may motivate them to claim the domain during the riskier but comparatively cheaper EAP phases 5, 6, or 7 instead. Phase 4’s cost is only slightly lower than Sunrise, but the chances of success are comparatively too low to justify the slightly reduced price. EAP phases 1, 2, and 3 are both more expensive and less likely to result in successful registration than Sunrise.
In such a case, the trademark owner must consider if the potential savings are worth risking losing the domain to a third party. As a rule, settling a dispute to retrieve a domain name procedure is much more expensive than simply claiming it for yourself.