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This year’s Exhibit Hall will be organized in a new way.
The IRCE 2012 Exhibit Hall has sold out, four weeks ahead of the opening of the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2012, which will take place at Chicago’s McCormick Place June 5-8.
It will be by far the largest exhibit ever of e-commerce services and technologies. The Exhibit Hall will cover 250,000 square feet, making it 14.7% larger than the show floor at IRCE 2011 in San Diego. And 562 companies have booked exhibit booths, 11.5% more than the 504 companies that exhibited at IRCE last year.
More companies are taking larger booths, accounting for the show floor growing by more than the number of exhibitors, says Steve Rogers, IRCE’s exhibition director. He points out that this year there will be 34 “island booths”—that is, displays of at least 400 square feet that are not directly next to another booth. That’s up 54.5% from 22 such booths last year.
Visitors to the Exhibit Hall will also notice that for the first time it will be organized into four pavilions where they will find vendors of related technologies and services. There will be separate sections for exhibitors that specialize in marketing, merchandising and design, e-commerce systems, and operations and fulfillment.
“The pavilions were a direct result of our post-conference surveys in which attendees said they wanted similar vendors to be located in the same general area so that they could use their time in the Exhibit Hall as efficiently as possible,” Rogers says. “We believe this will benefit both attendees and exhibitors, as it will better match up attendees’ needs with exhibitors’ solutions.”
While the pavilions are new, Rogers says, “IRCE 2012 will continue to have all of the things that have made the Exhibit Hall full of excitement and traffic.” That includes two fully equipped cyber-lounges, a massage area, all food and beverage breaks, two lunches and two cocktail receptions.
Organizers expect the Exhibit Hall will be crowded as they predict record attendance at IRCE. The current projection is that at least 9,000 people will attend IRCE, which would be a 23% increase from the 7,300 who attended IRCE 2011 in San Diego, the previous attendance record for an e-commerce conference, says Jack Love, publisher of Internet Retailer, which sponsors IRCE.
Part of the growth stems from the nearly 16% growth in the e-commerce market last year, Love says. But there’s also a fundamental shift going on in retailers’ strategy. “Retail chains, in particular, are recognizing that growth won’t come from additional real estate, but from the web,” Love says. “Chains, as well as catalogers and manufacturers and of course the Internet pure plays, all see a fundamental shift to consumers preferring to shop online, and that’s led to a shift in their strategic focus from traditional forms of retailing to this new form of retailing.”