March 1, 2010, 12:00 AM

Publisher's Letter: Join Us at IRCE 2010: It's Time to Reboot

The Great Recession of 2008-09 exposed the underlying shift in retailing from offline to online.

As we prepare for our sixth annual 2010 Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition on June 8-11 at Chicago’s new McCormick Place West, everyone in online retailing has good reason to breathe a collective sigh of relief. The worst recession since the Great Depression hit retail stores much harder than e-retail businesses, which grew 2% in 2009 even as total retail sales declined 7%, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. Following a strong holiday season, e-retailing is poised to resume its storied double-digit sales growth.

Still web merchants face a formidable challenge. During the recession, many established e-retailers, including some industry leaders, deferred making major new investments in their e-commerce businesses, a strategy that was understandable given the severity of last year’s economic storm. But the Great Recession of 2008-09 also exposed the underlying shift in retailing from offline to online. It’s been underway for years, but the recession put this long-term trend in stark relief when online sales remained surprisingly strong and store sales declined. Suddenly, those retail chains and consumer manufacturers that had given the web short shrift got the message and began pouring financial and human resources into retail web development. The result: in the holiday season just ended, the big retailers who had made the investments in the web grabbed a bigger share of online seasonal shopping.

So, as e-retailing returns to double-digit growth in 2010, the message to all e-retailers is crystal clear: Standing pat on web development and ignoring advances in e-retailing technology is an express ticket to oblivion. More than ever before, 2010 is the time to recommit to your online retail business. The stakes are huge and so is the opportunity for growth.

The Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition became the world’s largest e-retailing event-double the size of the two other shows combined-not by being the first but by being the best at meeting e-retailers’ needs for comprehensive, detailed and unbiased information on the ever-changing requirements for retailing success online. As e-retailers gear up to meet the challenges created by their industry’s return to double-digit growth, they will find that IRCE 2010 is more than ready to help.

Here’s what you’ll find at IRCE 2010 to help you reboot your e-retailing business in the coming year:

An Unrivaled Conference Agenda: There are 91 conference sessions covering every current e-retailing trend and all address this year’s conference theme-the rebooting imperative. We’ve increased the number of concurrent tracks focused on practical methods for regenerating online sales growth. We’ve also expanded the number of day-long workshops to five.

The Largest and Most Expert Speaker Faculty: Fully 175 e-retailing pros make up this year’s speakers’ roster-all selected independently by Internet Retailer’s editors based solely on their expertise on their subject matter and not on commercial relationships.

The Largest Exhibit Hall in E-Retailing: With more than 375 exhibiting companies, the Exhibit Hall at IRCE 2010 offers attendees the world’s largest display of e-commerce technology under one roof. Even if you can’t attend the Conference, the Exhibition alone is worth the trip to Chicago this June.

Excellent Conference Management: Our expanded conference management team is prepped and committed to providing the incomparable service and attention to detail that IRCE events are known for.

This invitation to IRCE 2010 comes with a solemn promise: What you learn there will help you reboot your e-retailing business, and your investment in attending will pay dividends for many years to come.

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