Make sure you can use their SMTP servers for outgoing email. Many hosting and domain name registration providers will not let you use their SMTP servers for sending emails. They assume you can send email via your internet server provider’s SMTP servers. However, a great many ISPs and broadband providers will only let you use their SMTP servers on their branded email accounts (i.e. [email protected]). This means that if you use your own email address (i.e. [email protected]), you won’t be able to send email via their SMTP servers. There are workarounds but you shouldn’t have to go to the trouble.
When looking up a bare name in DNS, the network stack will add the search domains to it to form fully qualified domain names, and look up those as well. For example, if the domain search list contains "wikipedia.org", typing "en" in the browser will direct the user to "en.wikipedia.org". Some ISPs add their own search domains via DHCP settings, similar to how they add DNS servers and other networking information; if this is undesired, the user can change this setting to ".local".
Contact the owner. Before so much as hinting at a price, simply email to ask whether or not the domain is for sale. If you are known or can clearly be linked to a thriving business, create a generic alternate email address through which to contact them, as your success might be leveraged against you. Be aware, however, that an informal-sounding email address is more likely to be regarded as spam or junk mail.
A short, one-word name (ex. cat.com), and especially .com domains, will be pricy because simple titles have a lot of potential uses, meaning people probably already check them out on their own. If you are going after a registered .com domain, you will have to contact the current owner, and even then, prices could be high for misspellings and multiple word domains. In the past years, companies and individuals have settled for bizarre names, misspellings, and old tricks like adding “the” or “my” to the front; note, however, that this will also reduce domain performance.
Many online shops have the number 24 in them, to signify 24 hours a day – you may also be able to integrate numbers into your domain in a meaningful way to make them unique. Be careful though, because many cultures attach a lot of significance to certain numbers. Make sure that your number doesn't represent bad luck or other negative things in the country you're operating in.