January 4, 2006, 12:00 AM

Looking back, planning forward

For Internet Retailer, 2005 was a year when our significant investment and great belief in the future of e-retailing paid enormous dividends.

For Internet Retailer, 2005 was a wonderful year. It was the year when our significant investment and great belief in the future of e-retailing paid enormous dividends. It was the year we could only dream of back in the bleak days of 2001, when the Internet investment bubble burst. And it was the year that gave us the resources to plan for the aggressive development of a publishing business devoted to serving a burgeoning e-retailing market that has only begun to revolutionize all of retailing.

There is not enough space here to detail all of Internet Retailer’s accomplishments in 2005, but here are several:

--Our total publishing revenue more than doubled, reaching a level more than four times greater than 2001, when every one of our competitors-large publishers all-abandoned the web retailing market.

--Monthly visits to InternetRetailer.com more than doubled as well, averaging 435,000 in the last three months of the year. This site is easily the most trafficked of any retail publishing web site.

--We held our first conference last June-Internet Retailer 2005 Conference & Exhibition-and it became the largest e-retailing event ever held up to that time, attracting 1,178 attendees and generating rave reviews.

--Our e-mail newsletter-IRNewsLink-created two new editions (NewsMakers and Top 400 Watch), bringing to four the number of weekly IRN editions.

--The circulation of both the newsletter and the magazine expanded. Internet Retailer added 3,000 subscribers, bringing its total to 37,000, and IRN’s opt-in subscriber base grew by more than 25% to 35,000.

--Our Top 300 Guide became the Top 400 Guide when it was published in May. And unit sales of the Guide, which profiles and ranks America’s 400 largest e-retailers, grew by a stunning 48%.

--And our most important resource-our group of dedicated full-time employees-also grew from 12 to 17, with the latest addition coming just this week. Bill Siwicki, a veteran trade journalist who recently served as editorial director of Health Data Management magazine, becomes our newest senior editor, initially working on the Top 500 Guide (yes, we are expanding the rankings one more time), which will be published in May.

As good as last year was, our brightest days are ahead. That’s because the market we serve exclusively-online retailing-continues growing at an annual 25% clip. As it now enters its second decade, merchants from all channels realize that the long-term potential for e-retailing is even greater than its most ardent advocates predicted a couple of years ago. At Internet Retailer, our vision is that online retailing could account for a third of retail sales when it completes its second decade. We are planning for this future now by investing the financial gains from a truly sensational year into expanding our publishing resources to better serve this incredible market.

I can’t reveal all of these plans now, but if you check our new conference web site (InternetRetailer.com/IR2006), you will see we are making a major investment to double the size of our conference, which will be held again in June in Chicago. And those who have been asking us to offer an electronic version of the Top 500 Guide will be pleased with what we have planned for that directory in the new year.

In short, we have no intention of spending any more time than I have right here recalling the glory of 2005. It’s time for everyone in the e-retailing industry to look forward-with great confidence.

Jack Love, Publisher

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