Naming Your E‑commerce Business and Website

Get inspired with our tips on how to choose the right name for your online store.

Naming Your E-commerce Business and Website Hero Image Description

The first thing a customer interacts with is your brand or business name, and as the familiar saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

A business with a physical location can draw on its signage, logo, decor, and ambiance to entice potential customers. However, if your startup is an e-commerce store, you can’t show off your unique look and atmosphere to people wandering by. All they have to go on is your brand name or your domain name.

If you’ve been tossing around business name ideas in your head, trying to come up with the perfect one, you might feel overwhelmed with all the possibilities.

Why is your business name such a big deal?

  • It’s what customers see first. It shapes what your customers think and feel before they even click. It’s your one shot at their first impression.
  • It defines your business. Think of the name as your brand proposition. Missing that target may mislead or even discourage consumers, and you might even bypass your target audience completely.
  • It ranks you among your competitors. Your potential customers will automatically compare your name to those of other related businesses. You’ll compare favorably with a better name.

Are there guidelines to follow to make success more likely? Is there a critical relationship between the store name and domain name? What are some examples that demonstrate the advantage of the right name? And where can you find inspiration for your online store name?

Guidelines for choosing a name for your online store

Choosing a name is both an art and a science. As you think through your choices, these guidelines can help you through the process.

  1. Make a list. Brainstorm and write down all the words and phrases that feel relevant to the store or business you’re creating. Be creative, but also keep it simple. Consider words and phrases that fit the brand identity you’re cultivating. Use available tools, like dictionaries, a thesaurus, and online business name generators for ideas. Anything goes at this point.
  2. Narrow it down. Start eliminating the words and phrases that don’t resonate and prioritize the ones that do. Short and catchy is usually best, so start thinking about what will be easy for your average customers to type into an online search or pronounce to a friend. Start checking for domain availability for the best options. (More on this later.) Make sure your final list has at least one very literal name. For example, Five Guys Burgers and Fries says exactly what it sells. To cover another base, make sure you have at least one option that incorporates your name or some other personal detail. (Think of McKinsey and Company, the consulting firm.) Other options you might include are acronyms, as in AT&T, or simple but thought-provoking words, like Google or Apple.
  3. Get creative. Words that rhyme or that start with the same letter can be good options. Another may be to make up a word or modify an existing word—either in pronunciation or spelling (think Flickr) to create a brand name that makes people think. Beware of being too offbeat or choosing something that resonates with you but would confound your target audience. Not everyone gets a play on words or a subtle reference. Many times, literal, descriptive brand names of 1 or 2 words work best.
  4. Compare and test. Look up your competitors and compare your name ideas to theirs. Make sure you can stand out and attract customers away from existing brands rather than appearing to be another cookie-cutter version of similar businesses. Conduct tests with friends to see what resonates with them. Ask if the name embodies the business. Is it easy to pronounce, spell, and remember?
  5. Make sure the name you want is available. Besides checking the domain name, check social media platforms to see if your brand name is available as a username. Also, if you’re in the US, check the US Patent and Trademark Office to see if your brand is legally open for you to trademark.
  6. Register your business to secure your name. Then make sure to grab your domain name and social media accounts while they’re still available.

As you narrow down your choice and finally select a name, there are a few things you may want to keep in mind.

  • Avoid alternative spellings that may be hard to remember.
  • Don’t choose a name that speaks to limited products or services, in case your business expands or diversifies later.
  • Think twice before including place names in your business name if you might expand into a franchise. Also, specific geographic names can give the wrong impression when a store is virtual instead of physical.

How should a domain name relate to a store name?

While much advice suggests that your domain name and store name have to match, the reality is that they don’t. This gives you some freedom if you come up with a really good name only to discover that a domain name that exactly matches it is already taken. What are some pros and cons of having your domain name match your business name?

  • Pros: An exact-match domain name helps with SEO rankings, indicating that your site is relevant to a certain search. It helps promote your brand or store name, committing it to the memories of your customers.
  • Cons: It isn’t easy to find a domain that isn’t already taken, and buying the domain can be pretty expensive.

Ideally, a domain name should be on the short side, but there are no hard-and-fast rules about specific numbers of characters. You just want your customers to be able to remember it and type it into their browser. Also, the .com extensions are generally preferred because it’s so common and easy to remember, but other extensions are getting more and more popular.

What can you do if you develop the perfect brand name, but the domain is already taken?

  • Option 1: Consult your shortlist of names to confirm that you’re committed to the one you’ve chosen. If so, check if the domain name is available with other extensions, such as .store or .net. If you’re OK with an alternate extension and it’s available, you may be able to proceed.
  • Option 2: Can you alter the store name slightly to access an available domain name? Or are you comfortable with your domain name not matching your brand name exactly? For example, let’s say you chose Tom’s Hardware as your store name, but someone owns tomshardware.com. There are other available extensions, like tomshardware.biz, but you want a .com domain. What about tomshardwarestore.com? Or tomshardwares.com?
  • Option 3: If you just can’t match your brand with the domain you want, can you create a domain name that features a target keyword instead, maximizing SEO rankings? Think of the keywords that embody the intent and focus of your e-commerce store. Is there a specific product that is central to your business? Is there a specific brand featured by your store? Is your store targeting a specific audience? Using the Tom’s Hardware example, what about tomshardwarediy.com or tomshardwaretools.com?

Don’t forget, though, to search for domain names and social media usernames during the early stages of choosing your brand name. Nothing’s more discouraging than coming up with the perfect name only to find that it’s not available as a domain name or on social media.

Examples of creative, successful business names

There’s no single formula that defines how to come up with a company name. Often, it’s a combination of thoughtful creativity and gut instinct for what will grab people’s attention. Inspiration can come from anywhere. But when you find the perfect name, you’ll know it.

If you’re still stuck, consider names that have been successful for other online stores to give your own creative search a boost. Here are some inspiring examples.

  1. Skullcandy. This well-known online store features innovative headphones and earbuds. You can almost imagine its creator thinking of colorful earbuds as “ear candy.” They pushed their creative process a little further resulting in the much more formidable and memorable Skullcandy.
  2. Body Bliss. The store’s About page explains that the name and logo join the physical part of us, our body, with the ethereal part of us, the state of bliss. Two short words, both starting with the letter “b,” with a marriage of concepts create a memorable brand for their target audience.
  3. Bon Bon Bon. This store sells artisan candies, especially featuring bonbons. The triple “bon” name is a strategic play on words, bringing to mind the bonbons the store is famous for but also meaning “good good good” in French.
  4. Glory Cycles. This business started out just selling bikes but evolved into selling parts, accessories, and apparel. The name struck the perfect balance of specificity and generality—enough for customers to identify their product while allowing for growth.
  5. Storq. It’s pronounced like “stork,” and you guessed it, they sell products for pregnant people and new parents. The name accomplishes its goal on two levels: the word “stork” relates to delivering babies, and the alternate spelling makes it fun and modern.
  6. Etsy. Here’s an interesting approach: The founder says he was just looking for a nonsense word that wouldn’t limit the growth of the store he was starting from scratch. Various phonetic forms of the word in Latin-based languages mean “what if” or “just because.” His approach was obviously successful—the brand is now internationally recognizable, and it continues to grow.
  7. Wish. Condensed from the term “wish list,” Wish is a mobile platform that other businesses can use to sell products. This is a good example of how just one word can embody a whole brand.

Looking at what has been successful for other stores and analyzing what factors led to success can help unlock your creativity and provide you with some direction in your search for the perfect name.

Where can you find inspiration?

Still feel like you lack inspiration? Countless online name generators can help, but keep in mind that nothing replaces your own creativity. Don’t be afraid to take the ideas and morph them into something bolder, more daring. Explore keywords, concepts, and your mission statement to allow the ideas to branch out. You never know what you’ll discover.

Once you find your gem, waste no time in securing your store name, domain name, and social media accounts. You’re now ready to begin building your brand and e-commerce store. Sign up for Mailchimp’s all-in-one Marketing Platform to set up your store and begin engaging customers.

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