April 28, 2006, 12:00 AM

Busy just doesn`t describe it

Anyone who’s ever been involved in organizing a major industry conference knows how frantic things can get a few weeks before the show. There are hundreds of details that need to be managed in a short period of time. Everything must come together by show time-everything-the speakers, presentation materials and conference notebooks, signs, audio-visual equipment, recording and registration systems, conference badges and tickets, food and beverage items, show decorations, tote bags and inserts, room drops, exhibit booths, Internet links, bus shuttles to the conference, magazine distributions, trade show guides, stickers for drawings (I can’t elaborate) and even singers and musicians. Yet, in addition to providing a lot of very practical information about taking your retail web site to the next level of performance, we are planning to have some fun at Internet Retailer 2006 Conference & Exhibition in Chicago on June 5-7.

If you examine the 32-page IR2006 Conference Preview section that is included in this issue, you’ll get a good idea of the many details involved in putting on this show. I don’t mind admitting that I’ve been dreaming about a lot of them lately as have all members of our conference team. That’s because there’s no time during the show to fix problems and nothing can be done afterward but plan for the following year’s event. So as I write this Publisher’s Letter, it’s safe to say that Internet Retailer’s office is one busy place. In fact, just busy doesn’t describe it. Frantic is more accurate.

In this environment, there really isn’t much time to reflect upon the significance of all that’s going on. We’re all just too pumped to analyze things very deeply. Yet as I write this, I am closing my door and taking a moment to absorb what is about to happen in a few weeks at IR2006.

We are now confident that more than 2,500 people are coming to Chicago to attend our second annual Internet Retailer conference. They come from 44 states and nine countries. They specialize in every type of retailing under the sun. They represent store chains, catalog firms, web-only merchants, direct-TV and call center merchants, branded manufacturers and wholesalers. What’s more, the numerical representation of these channels at the conference fairly depicts the share that each channel commands of the e-retailing market. They also fairly represent the small, medium and large merchants; about a third of attendees come from each camp.

They come to listen to 80 expert speakers (the list has been growing from the day we “finalized” the three-day conference agenda in December) and see the exhibits of 180 e-retailing vendors. They will all have many opportunities to network with each other using unique IR2006 e-mail addresses and boxes they will be assigned, the cyber café and attendee lounges in the Exhibit Hall and at the lunches, dinners and entertainment events that we have planned.

I’m the guy who writes the marketing copy for this show and confess a weakness for occasional hyperbole. But in this moment of reflection, before I open my door again, I am struck by the realization that IR2006 will be far and away the largest and most representative e-retailing industry conference ever held-more than double the size of last year’s breakthrough event.

Now, it’s back to working on the show-and to figuring a way to get someone from Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, Mississippi, South Dakota and West Virginia to attend to make this a 50-state affair.

See you all in Chicago!

Jack Love, Publisher

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