May 1, 2013, 4:12 PM

A wider lens

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As the agenda on the following pages attests, IRCE speakers will come from retailers small and large, and from retail chains, web-only merchants, catalogers, consumer goods manufacturers, nonprofit organizations and b2b suppliers. What they have in common is that they're using the Internet to smash barriers that once limited how they sell, and, in doing so, they are reshaping commerce.


A new parent company looks to expand IRCE's reach

Vertical Web Media built the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition into the world's leading e-commerce event. Now GLM aims to take IRCE's brand and e-retail expertise into new retail markets and geographies.

GLM acquired IRCE and Internet Retailer's two other conferences—Internet Retailer Web Design & Usability Conference and Internet Retailer Mobile Marketing & Commerce Forum—in November for an undisclosed sum. GLM, which private equity firm Providence Equity Partners purchased in 2011 for $173 million, operates 22 trade shows that annually attract 150,000 attendees and showcase the services of 11,000 exhibiting companies.

The sale of the events business will allow Vertical Web Media, publisher of Internet Retailer magazine, to grow its media business more quickly, says CEO Jack Love. "Ever since we launched our first show in 2005, our company has been expanding along dual paths, with one side growing rapidly in the conference business and the other side growing rapidly in publishing e-commerce information and research," he says. "As we attempt to expand both businesses around the globe, it becomes obvious that we need a large and professional conference operation to manage the continued expansion of Internet Retailer conferences and free our management up to accelerate the growth of our media business." Internet Retailer's editors continue to provide the agenda for the IR-branded events under a long-term contract with GLM.

For GLM, the acquisition of IR Events provides e-commerce expertise that it can bring to other events, says Craig Dooley, senior vice president and group show director for GLM's IR Events group. For example, GLM plans to have e-commerce content on the agenda and vendors focused on web retail in the exhibit hall of its Surf Expo in Orlando, Fla., in September.

International expansion of Internet Retailer events is also under discussion. "There is an opportunity to bring the brand value of what IRCE has done in the U.S., given the e-commerce growth in markets around the world, to retailers who wouldn't or couldn't make the trip to the U.S.," Dooley says.

Longtime IRCE exhibitors say they're impressed with what they've seen of GLM so far. "I like how focused GLM is on conference and expos, it's their core business," says Timothy Seward, CEO of online marketing agency ROI Revolution Inc., adding that GLM has deep connections with many smaller bricks-and-mortar retailers.

After meeting with GLM executives, Shaun Ryan, CEO of site search technology provider SLI Systems Inc., says he's convinced GLM will maintain the high quality of the Internet Retailer conferences. "The quality is vital because that is what attracts people to the show," Ryan says. "I'm also very interested in their plans to expand the conferences beyond the U.S. We are selling our services around the world and would find it very valuable to have conferences like IRCE in other countries."

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