June 1, 2012, 12:00 AM

Publisher's Letter: IRCE 2012: I am so very grateful

IRCE 2012: I am so very grateful.

As I write this publisher's column, the 8th Annual Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition is two weeks from its opening on June 5 at Chicago's McCormick Place West. It will be a blockbuster with 9,200 total attendees, up 27% from a year ago. And we'll have 562 exhibiting companies displaying their e-commerce technologies, 58 more exhibitors than last year. Both numbers are records, and they assure that IRCE 2012 will again be the world's largest e-commerce event.

It's remarkable that this king of the e-commerce shows only began in 2005, when it was one-ninth its current size and competed head to head against much more established conferences. You can imagine how gratifying it has been for me to witness this growth. I am deeply appreciative of the support this event has received from our media subscribers and web visitors. From day one, we have insisted that the conference content of each IRCE show have the same objectivity, breadth, depth and expertise as our media coverage of e-commerce. Our fans have rewarded this commitment by attending the show in ever-increasing numbers.

I am also grateful for the 175 e-commerce experts who agreed to speak at IRCE this year. As a conference speaker myself, I know the time and effort it takes to compose and deliver a presentation to your peers. By sharing the e-commerce lessons they have mastered with others in the business, our speakers enhance the professionalism of an entire industry. The 562 e-commerce solution providers exhibiting at IRCE this year do the same thing. Sure, they are motivated by sales and profit opportunities, but without their participation IRCE would not be the world's leading e-commerce event. I am also indebted to our many loyal conference vendors, including Freeman Companies (decorating), Royal Productions (audio-visual), and Show Data Solutions (registrations).

But my deepest appreciation is reserved for our entire 45-person staff, all of whom contribute to IRCE's success. Most of the credit for the show's success goes to our full-time conference management team. I know firsthand the energy and worry they expend to ensure proper management of the thousands of details that must be dealt with to make a show this big run smoothly. Those details are managed behind the scenes by our very talented conference team, managed by Steve Rogers, director of exhibitions, and Eileen O'Neill, director of conference operations, who together oversee all aspects of the show except the conference agenda. They are ably assisted by our exhibit sales staff, including Rob Fogel and Meghan Bookmiller, who in turn are supported by client service specialists Marisa Snell and Mara Holtkamp. Conference marketing is managed by Erin Dowd, who orchestrates a multifaceted IRCE marketing effort that includes extensive e-mail and print campaigns, search marketing, web and radio advertising, and billboards. Year after year, IRCE attendees give some of their highest ratings in post-conference surveys to show management, and that is a credit to the devotion of our conference staff.

The unrivaled conference agenda at IRCE is largely the product of two people, Conference Chairman Kurt Peters, who has been my business partner for 29 years, and Mary Wagner, an erstwhile Internet Retailer senior editor who along with Kurt now spends all her time conceiving compelling agenda topics and recruiting and assisting expert speakers to address them. Both Kurt and Mary rely heavily on our 17 editors to suggest topics and speakers, in particular our research director Mark Brohan, editorial director Don Davis, and Bill Siwicki, managing editor of our mobile commerce coverage.

And now it's showtime.

Jack Love, Publisher

jack@verticalwebmedia.com

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