In spite of the continued uncertainty of the economy and the retail market, the fifth annual Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition, which ended Thursday in Boston, attracted more than 5,000 attendees and 368 exhibitors.
Attendance was down only slightly from the 5,200 total attendees at last year’s conference. Exhibiting companies were up 43 from the 325 that exhibited at IRCE 2008 in Chicago.
“Given that some conferences this year have been down significantly in attendance and exhibiting companies, we are very pleased with the attendance this year and the growth in exhibiting companies,” says Kurt Peters, editor in chief of Internet Retailer and chair of the conference. “The buzz at the show was tremendous-in the hallways, in the Exhibit Hall and on Twitter.”
"As a frequent presenter at trade shows and conferences I was absolutely amazed at what Internet Retailer was able to achieve in Boston this week," says Eric T. Peterson, who spoke at the conference. He is the author of “Web Analytics Demystified” and founder of the consulting group of the same name. "While many conferences are struggling in 2009, Internet Retailer was packed with great brands, great vendors, and totally engaged participants."
As a result of this year’s success, early commitments by exhibitors for next year’s Internet Retailer Conference are strong, says Steve Rogers, director of exhibitions.
Pre-conference workshops led off the four full days of 91 sessions with 178 speakers, up 18% and 24% respectively from the 2008 conference.
Patrick Byrne, chairman and CEO of Overstock.com, kicked off the main conference with a Keynote Address that emphasized the growing competitiveness of the e-retailing market. He encouraged all retailers to take a close look at their online operations and find ways to operate more efficiently and effectively.
The conference’s featured speakers were Jeff and Bobby Beaver, co-founders of Zazzle.com, who discussed how the Internet has created new business opportunities; Mark Kuhns, vice president of e-commerce for sports apparel manufacturer Under Armour, who explained how Under Armour uses compelling web site content to tighten the relationship with its mostly-teen-age customers; and Stephanie Tilenius, senior vice president and general manager of eBay North America, who encouraged retailers to take advantage of eBay’s new approach as it evolves into a more robust retail platform.
Visitors to the Exhibit Hall had opportunities over three days to visit solutions providers to the industry as well as to network with their peers at evening receptions. They also had the opportunity to win a new Lexus RX by visiting the 39 exhibitors who, by advertising in the June issue of Internet Retailer, participated in the Win the Wheels contest. Simone Drapeau of Stride Rite won the car.
In addition, conference attendees met up with their peers at a barbecue dinner and party at the Boston World Trade Center, sponsored by Internet Retailer and Alibaba.com, with arcade games, a roving magician and entertainment by rock band Jackpot Donnie.
Next year’s Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition will take place June 8-11 at Chicago’s McCormick Place.