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Intercap navigates launching a domain during Covid-19 pandemic

Registry’s delayed .dealer launch moves forward in uncertain environment.

Logo for .dealer domain name with the tagline "Be authorized"

Launching any product is hard. Launching one in the middle of a pandemic takes it to another level.

For Intercap Registry, its two-year journey to launch .dealer has been delayed by Covid-19.

The company initially planned to launch the domain in Sunrise on March 25. That was pushed back to this coming Wednesday, April 29.

“We’ve been pushing hard on this for the better half a year,” said Andy MacLeay, co-founder of .Dealer Domains. “All of that tactical work was for a planned Q1 launch. We went to the ICANN meeting in Montreal and began to speak with the registrars there about .dealer and getting them ready for this launch…We attended a large automobile dealers association meeting in February, where we began to soft launch it to one of our core verticals.”

That was before Covid-19 started to spread rapidly, resulting in a change of plans.

“We wanted to be cognizant that people were rightfully scared and the airwaves were jam-packed with all sorts of messaging that was more important,” said MacLeay. “We didn’t want to muffle that message by tooting a celebratory horn of launching a business right in the middle of a global pandemic.”

Changing the launch plan involved multiple parties. First, the company had to work with ICANN to change its launch plan dates. Then it had to notify registrars of its plans. It also had to update its sales plans and marketing collateral, which were all tied to the original dates.

MacLeay said that all of the parties have been accommodating.

As a small business, Intercap also had to monitor its cash flow situation and how the delay would impact it. Fortunately, it launched .Inc a year ago and is getting renewal revenue and new sales from that top level domain to keep operating in the face of the delay.

With the launch now within sight, the trick is to market the domain name in a changing world.

It won’t be able to go to trade shows to market its domains, so it is ramping up digital marketing plans and working with the registrar channel.

The good news is that .dealer isn’t reliant on only one vertical. Auto dealers aren’t the company’s only target. Any business with authorized retailers—think purses, watches, or even chainsaws—are potential customers.

And domain registrations don’t stop during a pandemic. .Inc sales continue to roll in. In some ways, the pandemic puts an added emphasis on digital presence.

“If you are a retailer of anything, you need to find a creative way to connect with customers,” said MacLeay.

For years, the automotive industry had one mantra: ‘just get them into the showroom,'” explained MacLeay. It was the same thing for lots of other retailers. The pandemic has accelerated the shift to digital.

Many big-ticket items, which are commonly sold through dealers, have remained brick and mortar purchases despite the move to the internet. MacLeay said this is changing because of restrictions put in place due to the pandemic.

Sunrise for .dealer will run through June 1. An Early Access Period will then run until General Availability starts on June 8.

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