Most domain registrars currently only search to see whether a domain is already taken, without looking to see whether it is in use or up for sale. By working with sister company Sedo, 1&1 offers the option of buying domains from owners who are trying to sell or auction them.
Furthermore, many businesses creating a new global presence, or expanding an existing one, struggle to find an appropriate domain name with all the necessary top level domains, such as .com, .co.uk or .eu, as one of these is often already taken, thereby diluting a company's online identity.
The new Domain Marketplace feature allows visitors to search for domain possibilities not just from regular unregistered names, but from over 14 million domains for sale at a fixed price or up for auction within Sedo's marketplace.
Those interested in a pre-owned domain can purchase or bid for it via Sedo by clicking through directly from their 1&1 shopping basket. The partnership also allows customers to have their recently purchased pre-owned domains easily transferred to the web host.
"As the internet further matures, there has never been a more relevant time to consider leveraging a pre-registered domain," said Oliver Mauss, chief executive at 1&1 Internet.
Recent research by the company claims that most small businesses in the UK believe that they picked their primary domain name too hastily and could have made a better choice.
Over a quarter of those companies surveyed admitted to wanting to improve either their domain name wording or top-level domain suffix, and a third felt that sales would improve as a direct result of a change in web address.
"Businesses often choose their primary domain names in haste at the start of an online project," explained Mauss. "Businesses today should review all the available domain options periodically and consider the business case for investments in this area."
The move was welcomed by UK registrar Nominet.
"From research we conducted in late 2008, we have seen that a .uk domain is important to an organisation from a locality and trust perspective," said Phil Kingsland, director of Marketing and Communications at Nominet.
"Initiatives like this will open up opportunities for organisations to find and buy a domain that is most relevant to its operations or line of business."
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