October 31, 2005, 12:00 AM

IR2006 Conference: Ready to make history

We believe IR2006 will fulfill our mission of producing a global industry event befitting the burgeoning size and scope of the web retailing business.

By Jack Love

Every major industry needs a major show that attracts as conference attendees all of the key players--large and small--from all segments of the industry, that features as speakers the leaders from every market sector, and that offers a huge exhibition hall where all leading solution providers are represented. When we held Internet Retailer 2005 Conference & Exhibition last June, the e-retailing industry lacked such an event, and our goal was to fill that void.

IR2005 was designed as a first step toward that goal. It turned out to be much more. Overnight, it became the biggest event in e-retailing, attracting 845 paid conference registrants, 53 speakers, and 51 exhibiting/sponsoring companies; and total attendance (registrants, speakers and exhibit staff) nearly hit the 1,200 mark--double what we initially expected. It would have attracted even more were it not for the fact that we had to close down registration three weeks before the show after we hit the maximum number of registrants that the conference space would hold.

Space will not be a problem next June, when we hold our second show--Internet Retailer 2006 Conference & Exhibition--at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, where we have reserved three times as much space for the conference sessions and five times as much space for the exhibit hall. Thanks to the jump start we got from this year`s show--which received high marks from attendees in an extensive post-conference survey--we believe IR2006 will fulfill our mission of producing a global industry event befitting the burgeoning size and scope of the web retailing business.

We are already off to an excellent start toward our goal of creating a major exposition of e-retailing technology. At this writing, more than seven months before the show, 96 companies (see the list on page 29) have signed up as exhibitors and sponsors at IR2006, reserving a total of 140 of the 228 10`-by-10` equivalent booths that are available. A strong three-day conference agenda is also taking shape based on the theme of "Taking E-Retailing to the Next Level." Invitations have just been sent to more than 75 leading online merchants and other experts in e-retailing to speak at IR2006, and we expect to announce the complete agenda by mid-December.

We have already confirmed our two keynote speakers. Day-one keynoter is Thomas McInerney, executive vice president of IAC/InterActive Corp., which has assembled an Internet powerhouse that includes such myriad web properties as search engine Ask Jeeves, Gifts.com, and Ticketmaster.com, the leading online seller of event tickets. IAC also owns HSN, a leading TV shopping network, and has just spent more than $700 million to acquire cataloger Cornerstone Brands, the nation`s 37th largest web merchant. Tom will provide IR2006 attendees his unique insight into how cable television and the web are coming together and what that means for online shopping as it enters its second decade. Our second keynoter is Seth Radwell, CEO of Scholastic.com, the e-commerce operation of children`s publishing giant Scholastic Inc. (of Harry Potter fame), which last year recorded web sales of $240 million, placing it third in online book sales behind Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Seth will discuss Scholastic`s ambitious plans to expand its online business with interactive programs, compelling editorial content and online support services.

This is the one e-retailing event in 2006 you will not want to miss. Check our web site in mid-December for registration details.

jack@verticalwebmedia.com

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