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The best way to brand your online store might be the easiest

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The stats on e-commerce trends during this global health crisis are already coming in, but you probably don't need to see them to realize the obvious: People are shopping a lot more online, which means a lot more online shops are going to open.

That's driven in equal parts by the needs of the consumer and the sellers. People are shying away from brick and mortar stores even more than they already were, and many e-commerce side hustles have become the main gig of their proprietors in the wake of the shifting job market.

On the one hand, that deepened pool of potential customers is great news if you're starting up an online store. The problem, as it always has been, is how to stand out in a virtual sea of dot-com outlets.

One solution? Ditch the dot-com altogether.

It's still not known by many, but budding entrepreneurs are no longer limited to .com domain names. There's a ton of other options out there that are just as functional (and not nearly as crowded). And for retail, the .store extension is popping up as a no-brainer.

The possibilities for visibility are obvious. Any domain with a .store extension has half the work already done. Buyers know this is where they can go to get things, and get them fast. Fortune 500 companies have already taken notice: Among its many other outlets, there's a Nike.store. If you're looking for e-books or hotel rooms, there's a kindle.store and westin.store, respectively. That's just to name a few.

Mind you, there's still ample room for startups, which is half the appeal. Have you checked the availability on your ideal dot-com domain name lately? 65% of them fail. Things are still wide open with .store domains, where it's much easier to find a succinct, SEO-friendly URL. And it's not as though the hosting is any harder to find. GoDaddy, Shopify, Wix and all the usual suspects for web hosting support .store domains.

It remains to be seen how much longer the gold rush will last on .store domains, but for now, the rise is well-timed. Budding e-commerce sellers can get theirs going fairly easily, too: Right now, get.store is offering .store domains for one year at $4.99. Those who want to jump into a longer commitment can get 5-year plans for $39.99 or 10 years at $69.99.

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