January 30, 2009, 12:00 AM

IRCE 2009: Everything is bigger but the price

2009 will be the year which likely separates e-retailers into two groups: the long-term leaders who keep looking for ways to improve their sites and the also-rans who play it safe.

It’s not easy to attend conferences in a severe recession. But there’s a self-fulfilling prophecy that plays out when you eliminate all of them: You lose touch with a fast-changing market like e-retailing and the dynamic technology that drives it just when you need that connection the most.

That is particularly true right now for e-retailers. While online sales growth rates are down from prior years, most e-retailers still have positive growth rates-something that can’t be said for most store chains. E-retailing is an island of hope in a depressed retailing market. That’s the good news. The bad news is that everyone wants to move there, which means 2009 will be the most competitive year yet in the e-retailing market. Growth for web merchants this year is likely, but it will be harder to achieve.

It will be the year which likely separates them into two groups: the long-term leaders who keep looking for ways to improve their sites and the also-rans who play it safe. This is not a time to retreat; it’s your time to shine.

That’s why we’ve done something that few conference organizers do in a recession year: We’ve expanded everything about America’s largest e-retailing conference-except the price. We know that more than ever you need the practical tips for improving the marketing and operation of your retail web site that our 178 expert speakers will be providing in 93 targeted conference sessions at the Internet Retailer 2009 Conference & Exhibition at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center June 15-18, 2009. It is the quality of IRCE’s conference content that has fueled the show’s impressive growth-a record that was recognized in November 2008, when Tradeshow Week named IRCE the fastest growing of all 13,000 conferences and trade shows held each year in North America.

We achieved this milestone by responding to the needs of e-retailers. We founded the conference on high standards of content when we completely removed the selection of speakers from all control of sponsors (our top editors select them without influence from sponsors) to ensure that our agenda is informative and objective-not the sales pitches you get from vendors at some e-retailing events. We also responded with more day-long workshops when attendees expressed their desire to dig deep into a single area of e-retailing.

And at IRCE 2009, we are responding to requests from attendees who want the show to continue to relate to their specific needs even as it grows into a huge event. To make that happen, we reduced the number of general sessions at IRCE 2009 and greatly increased the number of specialized track sessions to allow e-retailers to choose from a broader array of topics to find those that most meet their needs. For the 2009 show, IRCE features:

- 178 Expert Speakers: 24% more than IRCE 2008

- 93 Conference Sessions: 21% more than IRCE 2008

- 170,000-Square-Foot Exhibit Hall: 30% bigger than IRCE 2008

- 350 Exhibiting Vendors, the largest display of e-retailing technology ever

The only thing that hasn’t increased at IRCE 2009 is our registration fee, which has always been 50% or more below our competition. And, by signing up by March 31 for the standard two-day conference under the early bird rate, you pay just $795-fully $100 less than the standard fee that goes into effect thereafter. Why have we done all this? Because if you are cutting all but one e-commerce conference from your 2009 schedule, we want to be sure that IRCE is the one you keep.

jack@verticalwebmedia.com

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