strategy Sell Domain Names Wholesale Or Retail Or Both?

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Investors can sell domain names retail, to end users, or wholesale, to other investors who will seek to resell the names. In most, not necessarily all, cases, the pricing will be substantially different. This is because the investor buying wholesale must account for his or her costs, and also the possibility that the name will not sell.

Should domain name investors sell both wholesale and retail, or concentrate just on one? Are there times when it is appropriate to sell wholesale, even if in general you emphasize retail sales? Are there downsides of mixing wholesale and retail sales?


I polled NamePros members on whether they sell wholesale or retail or a mix of both. The results for the 114 respondents are shown below.

Among those who responded, 31.6% sold strictly wholesale, with 10.5% concentrating on wholesale transactions. The rest had some mix, with 17.5% selling mainly retail, with just the occasional wholesale transaction, while 40.4% had a deliberate mix of both sales to other investors and to end users.

I asked the same question in a Twitter poll, obtaining 156 respondents. The results of that poll, shown below, indicated a stronger focus on retail.

Among Twitter respondents, 45.6% say they sold strictly retail, while only 3.8% sold mainly wholesale.

Type of Buyer Not Always Clear

Several people commented that it is often not clear whether the buyer is an investor or end user. @Future Sensors wrote:
I chose 'mix', because afterwards I sometimes notice that I have sold a domain via a marketplace to another domainer unknown to me. It's not my goal to sell to peers, but in the lower price tiers it happens that both end users and domainers get their money's worth.

It really is about the price, not whether the prospective buyer is a domain investor or not, as @lock expressed
Everyone is the end user. I don't care if you're a domainer without a solid offer i will just ignore.

@biggie pointed out that the dividing line between retail and wholesale is far from clear, and stressed that it is about price, not identity of the buyer.
I sell to whomever makes best offer or buys the domain at BIN price. Retail, wholesale is vague, if you're talking about closing sales amounts, as the wholesale price of one name could be higher than retail price of similar domain. I believe anyone who has been domaining for more than a decade has sold at least one name to another domainer, whether they know it or not.

Hanif pointed out the if you list your names make offer, they may end up being purchased by domain investors or end users.
I list most of my names on GoDaddy Auctions with make offer and if the offer is good, I accept it. Just like in December, my first meta sale was on Auctions and I am sure it was an investor because there is no site launched on the name yet. Sometimes even investors give you a good price.

The NamePros Blog article Who Bids On High-Value Domain Auctions provided evidence that a number of the buyers, even for high-value closing auctions at venues used by investors to buy names, seemed to be end users.

The Arguments for Retail Only

Here are some arguments for not touching wholesale, and doing retail only.
  1. If you sell from your own site or social media account, mixing wholesale and retail pricing can be confusing to potential clients.
  2. If you restrict your sales to retail, you will be more apt to acquire carefully, since each name is a long term investment.
  3. It is time consuming to run a wholesale operation, as you need to acquire, list and possibly negotiate many names for limited profit.
  4. It will generally be much more lucrative to sell retail.
  5. If you view the ultimate goal is getting names developed, why not sell to the people who want to do that?
So many say, respect your names, ask what they are worth, and sell retail, or to investors willing to pay retail prices.

The Arguments for Some Wholesale

But there are also arguments for a wholesale focus, such as
  1. Your holding time, and renewal costs, will be reduced.
  2. The higher rate of sales will help you evaluate more quickly the type of names with value.
  3. You can be more nimble, changing directions according to business and social trends.
  4. It is possible to operate with a smaller initial investment.
  5. The frequent sales may help keep you interested in domain investing.
  6. Some like the social interaction with other domain investors, particularly if your wholesale transactions are on a platform like NamePros.
When to Sell Wholesale

A wholesale focus makes most sense for certain situations.
  • You want to change directions, perhaps focus in different extensions or sectors. By raising some funds through selling off names that no longer fit your investment plan, you generate funds to invest in new ways.
  • I think for some new investors a wholesale focus may make sense as they start out. True, the profit per sale will be low, but by seeing what other investors will buy, you can tune your domain name selection skills, as well as more accurately estimating the worth of different names.
  • You have limited funds to invest, but a fair amount of time to put into domain investing.
  • Clearly one situation for wholesale transactions is when you have a cash flow problem.
  • Another frequent reason people sell wholesale is that they want to recoup costs from domain names about to expire.
Selling Wholesale At NamePros

Probably the best place to sell wholesale is right here at NamePros. This is a huge community of people regularly acquiring names. Also, listing is easy, and there are no commission or listing charges. Your account level will set the number of concurrent active marketplace listings.

Many focus on single-name auctions, but remember there are many selling formats allowed. Always check the rules before listing. Here are some selling options:
  • Single Name Auctions This NamePros Blog article, Optimizing Your NamePros Auctions, covers how to list, things to consider, and how to optimize chances for bids. Make sure that you have included all the required elements.
  • Multiple Name Auction If getting rid of domains of a certain sector or type, it may make sense to auction them as a package. I would not do this with unrelated names, however. You will get less than if they were auctioned individually, but it is less work.
  • ‘One From List’ Auction One problem is to get initial interest in an auction. You can increase chances for bids by combining several names in an auction where the winner can select any one name from the list.
  • Fixed Price Maintaining an active auction takes time, and you may prefer to list names in the Fixed Price section of NamePros.
  • Bargain Bin If you are willing to sell your names for $20 or less, consider listing them in the Bargain Bin section.
  • Make Offer You may simply want to not even fix a price, and list names as Make Offer.
There are other ways to sell at NamePros, such as for liquid or brandable names. There is also a place where you can highlight names you have listed externally.

While NamePros is a great place to sell wholesale, there are other options. Any of the registrar marketplaces are an option, and have many listings at wholesale pricing. No doubt that GoDaddy Auctions gets the most eyes.

While search is slow at the recently reconfigured Namecheap Marketplace, one advantage it has for listing wholesale is the standard presentation of names includes measures sometime considered by investors, such as number of registered TLDs, search volume, Estibot valuation, and domain age.

If you are into brandable names, some brandable places have a wholesale section to sell to other investors.

There are a couple of specific places geared to wholesale transactions. Domain Name Wholesale Exchange DNWE is a members-only wholesale market open only to authenticated domain investors. There is an annual membership fee at DNWE, but no commissions. One advantage is DNWE listings are invisible to the public, so you can keep domains listed elsewhere at retail prices until they sell.

Particularly for names nearing expiry, the Dutch Auction format NameLiquidate is an option to consider. All names start at $998 USD, decreasing by $6 each hour over a 7 day period. The default is to end at $9, but the seller can set a different reserve ending price. While Epik names can be listed directly from their control panel, you can list domain names from any registrar and for any extension.

Final Thoughts

NamePros member @NewDayBrand provided the following comment on his personal experience both in wholesale and retail sales. As he writes,
I think from my modest experience while wholesale is far less profitable than retail, it keeps liquidity running. I think it's a good model, especially for people like me who don't have a great capital reserve for this business, who have another main job, other career aspirations, and some free time.I find domaining to be an exciting journey where everyone can have a piece of the pie. Everyone can be a winner with very moderate risk taking, no matter what business model you choose.

For many investors, it may make sense to do some mix of wholesale and retail sales. Even if you sell mainly wholesale, I think the case is strong to list at least a few names at strong retail prices. If your focus is almost entirely retail, regular portfolio re-evaluation makes sense, and why not generate something from names you plan to drop anyway?

When selling wholesale, remember your pricing to other investors must take into account that investor is taking on the risk that the name may not sell, or at least not sell for a profit. As a rule of thumb, your selling price will probably need to be not much different from what you would pay today to acquire a similar domain yourself. That may still be substantially more than you paid for the name, particularly if you have held it for years, although for other names it may be unreasonable to aim to fully recover your invested costs.

Readers, please add your own experiences.
  • Have you tried both wholesale and retail?
  • Over your time in domain investing, has the mix changed?
  • If you were giving advice to someone starting out, would it be retail or wholesale or both?
  • Under what situations do you sell wholesale?

Thanks to those who voted in the polls and who contributed comments.
The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.
Great job Bob, as per usual!
Hi Bob, found your article via Twitter but I'll elaborate here...

Good article, it brings up an important point, especially for those just starting in domaining. I've been at it for over 20 years. In that time, I'd say I've sold to about 70% retail, 30% domainers.

My goal is to sell retail, obviously to get the best price. However, if I receive a decent offer from a fellow domainer, I'll sell to keep cash flow going. Even if I don't need the cash, I think it's important to keep momentum going and churn domains a bit.
Thanks for this Valuable Insight.
ty Mr. Bob. I think the wholesale and other domainers are the same thing, but i could be wrong. ty. :)
ty Mr. Bob. I think the wholesale and other domainers are the same thing, but i could be wrong. ty. :)
Yes of course
I included the term "wholesale to other domainers" in the polls question just to make absolutely sure anyone who voted interpreted it that way. You are right, probably not necessary.

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I will sell to whoever is willing to pay my asking price, which are end users the vast majority of the time.

Many of us sell wholesale but not by choice. It's like the guy that is going out of business and selling everything wholesale. It was not his initial plan.

You have a lot of people that ask end user prices and claim its a wholesale price.
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Does not matter- just show me the money
I really don't like to interact with anyone whether end users or domainers when it comes to domain sales.

I have found out that the negotiation process and going through all the hassles of finalizing the sale can be very stressful on me and it can take a toll on my health at my age specially with my heart condition.

So I just list my domains at some of the major marketplaces and wait to see if I get any interest in any of them.

I like to try different price ranges for my domains and so I constantly adjust the prices on my Buy Now listings at Afternic. I find it very helpful that I can bulk edit my Buy Now Prices all at once either by a + or - percentage at Afternic.

I often let a name drop rather than trying to sell it at very cheap or wholesale prices because when you price your domains too cheap people might think that your domains aren't good enough.

Since I am trying to reduce the level of stress on myself a lot of times I price most of my domains the same within three categories of low, high, and super high (like shooting for the moon) rather than trying to find the exact value for each individual domain name.

I consider myself lucky as long as I can pay for my renewals although my biggest problem is that I am not selling a lot of domains with this system and can go on dry periods of time for months and months which often causes me to have to trim my portfolio so my advice to everyone is to not do as I do because my situation and circumstances are kind of very unique.

My ultimate goal is to be able to sell a domain for a life changing amount so that I can eat three decent meals a day like everyone else. :)

Nevertheless I don't consider myself to be a typical domainer, but despite all the stresses I still like domaining because it helps keep my mind sharp at my age and gives me a moment of happiness when I find a good domain name that I can register.

Now I just have to twist Godaddy's arm so they won't hog all the big buyers for their own domains and let me have a few sales too. :)

Whoever clicks my BIN is my end user. The stress of selling wholesale isn't worth it in my opinion. I will rather let the domain drop ( though I rarely drop names) than go through the hassle of liquidating.
The domain recession is already here. Not selling even at wholesale.
zero sales on afternic for the last 4 months.

Time to drop..
long story short: if you have time to wait for the enduser and you don't have urgent money need, just wait for an enduser.
If you need to scale with domain money and you have a domain that is pretty easy to get replaced, you can also go mixed (wholesale and enduser)
There have been times earlier in my journey that I did alot of known wholesale. Now I wait for end users after 5 years of collecting better names and having better instincts and decision making on names.

One point maybe mentioned is people confusing wholesale as retail. There are domainers out there who don’t have any issue spending decent money for good names. (And no they aren’t here 🤣 )

That’s what keeps the likes of SquadHelp, Brandbucket and Afternic pumping out sales. Platforms often underprice for this very reason. Big pockets have similar sweet spot.

How many times have you seen someone jumping for joy over a small sale and then its listed for five or six figures three days later? It happens alot. Know the value of your names.

The people doing the most flipping (wholesale) are predominately hand reggers. People who buy domains in auctions and pay much more are usually going to hold that name much longer after bigger financial commitments to it.

I don’t see any reason to flip at this point unless I am dropping a name which I do less and less.
Thanks Mr @Bob Hawkes for this helpful article.

I'm currently trying to sell my portfolio at wholesale prices, the thing is i'm looking for a solution where it makes it easy for me to get payed one pay out for my portfolio of domains, not getting payed one by one, i find it risky.

The buyer could easily choose only the 10 top names and by them at that discounted price, then ghosting me not paying for the other 80 names that we agreed on. that is the risk.

I'm trying to sell my portfolio as a whole after all that is what wholesale means, if you sold one name at a discounted price, that means you sold it at reseller price not wholesale, if wholesale it must be in bulk like 10+ a number that the seller should define.

Anyway, i need your suggestions on a solution where i can sell my domains in bulk not one by one at wholesale pricing.
i need your suggestions on a solution where i can sell my domains in bulk not one by one at wholesale pricing.
The NamePros selling allows one to post a portfolio of names to be sold as a group. That said, unless there is good synergy in type of name not sure would likely find a buyer. Like if selling all names in one or two sectors, or all 4L .com, or all one-word .io or .xyz, you might find a buyer, but less likely if a portfolio made up of many different things.

I don't know off-hand if any of the marketplaces handle group sales. Perhaps other readers can add their experience. I see the post just above says do.

If you have your own social media presence, you could also try listing there. I have seen that done from time to time, but no idea if any success.

I suspect one might be as well off aggressively wholesale pricing them individually, and accept that some will sell and some you will either let drop or liquidate in some other way.

Good luck.

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Thanks again @Bob Hawkes

i did some additional research, apparently has a service called Daaz secure which is basically an escrow, you can sell your whole portfolio or a single domain, you just have to enter buyer details his email and phone number, and they will contact the buyer to get the payment, so you should first find the buyer, and this is where social media presence will help.

this is a link to their service for more info:

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