June 9, 2010, 9:41 AM

Welcome to IRCE

More than 6,300 people are attending the largest e-retailing conference ever.

Lead Photo

“I welcome you all to the largest meeting of e-commerce professionals ever assembled.” With those words, Internet Retailer publisher Jack Love told a packed ballroom audience at the opening general session at the 6th annual Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition Wednesday morning at McCormick Place West in Chicago. Love told attendees that the total attendance at IRCE 2010 exceeded 6,300 people, a 33% increase from IRCE 2009 in Boston last June.

“The overarching theme of this year’s show is based on the idea that the e-commerce industry is once again growing at historical double digit rates and there’s urgency for e-retailers to reboot and reinvent their businesses in the wake of a long and deep recession, one that produced the only lull that e-commerce has ever known,” Love said. “Judging from the record attendance at this show, you all have gotten that message.”

In his welcoming remarks, Love revealed this year’s demographic mix of IRCE’s attendees. He said the attendees represent all sizes of e-commerce competitors—from very large, well-known brands to mom-and-pop operators. He reported that 43% of this year’s IRCE attendees come from companies with less than $10 million in annual sales, and slightly more than 10% come from $1 billion-plus companies. “Obviously,” said Love, “this is still a market where the small, highly focused merchants can survive and prosper going up against the giants.”

Showing another side of IRCE’s diverse attendee makeup, Love said that 24% of attendees came from web-only merchants, 15% from retail chains, 15% from branded manufacturers, 11% from catalog firms, 11% from consumer and financial service firms, 5% from web shopping portals, and 19% from e-commerce solution providers. “I really don’t know of a business conference that has a more diverse composition,” Love noted. “We’ve got everyone from bankers to bowling shirt makers, mass merchants to florists, hoteliers to ticket sellers, publishers to restaurateurs. The common thread that binds them is their desire to sell more goods and services online.”

Love said IRCE remains primarily an American event, attracting 95% of its attendees from all 50 states. However, he added that IRCE is gaining recognition around the globe as the world’s largest e-commerce event. Just over 5% of its attendees come from 33 foreign countries—from the largest global economies to the smallest. “Since e-commerce really breaks down the national barriers to trade, I expect this foreign component to continue growing,” said Love. “Someday, I hope we’ll be the United Nations of e-commerce.”

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