New Internet Suffix for Co-ops
This article was originally published in January 2001
Here’s a pop quiz: What do the following companies have in common? Ace Hardware, Land O’Lakes Inc., TruServ Corp., the Associated Press and PCC Natural Markets.
The answer — they’re all structured as business cooperatives, even though some of these co-ops aren’t recognized as co-ops. Consider how many Americans shop routinely at True Value Hardware, but don’t recognize the parent organization, TruServ, is a co-op.
That may be about to change, as co-ops will gain new visibility on the Internet. An Internet oversight board has approved a new web address suffix — .coop — for business cooperatives. By the middle of next year, cooperatives will have the option of using .coop at the end of their Internet address.
With the .coop domain, co-ops will be able to distinguish themselves from conventional commercial businesses (dot.com) or nonprofits (dot.org). A co-op suffix also will help customers find a cooperative when they want one and give co-ops the recognition that’s been missed. After all, studies show consumers trust cooperatives more than most other kinds of companies.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) granted the .coop suffix following an application from the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA). The NCBA now has the right to administer the use of the .coop suffixes and NCBA will have the right to collect fees from anyone registering a website ending in the .coop suffix.
The National Cooperative Bank (NCB) of Washington, D.C. says co-ops have 100 million members — more participants than the 78 million people who own stock in all the corporations traded on Wall Street! The revenue generated by the top 100 co-ops over the past five years rose more than 23 percent, about the same growth rate as the general economy. Last year, cooperative sales totaled nearly $125 billion, up more than two percent from the year before.
That all translates into co-ops having a $1 trillion impact on the U.S. marketplace, making them a very successful and significant part of the economy. A proprietary Internet domain will help consumers — and the business community in general — recognize that.