Internet Retailer Signs on for Six More Years in Chicago; Looks to Future Expansion

June 10, 2013

Since the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition launched nine years ago, it’s been a juggernaut, growing year-over-year in attendance alone from 1,100 coming to the event in 2005 to an estimated 9,500 attending the recent show at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

“We benefit from being in an industry that continues to be on fire,” said Craig Dooley, senior vice president, GLM and group show director, IR Events Group. “There is a lot of momentum behind the show in Chicago.”

So much momentum, in fact, the Windy City will continue to be the show’s home for the next six years.

“IRCE has thrived every year it has taken place in Chicago, and we are thrilled to call this our home through the end of the decade,” Dooley said.

He added, “Officials from Choose Chicago, McCormick Place and the city of Chicago have made it clear that they not only value the IRCE conference and trade show business, but also appreciate our attendees and exhibitors, by providing us with a world-class, state of the art facility. Chicago is where our customers want to be, and it is the ideal location for this show to remain.”

IRCE, which started out at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, may move over to the new events center that will be a part of the Elevate Chicago project.

Elevate Chicago is a $1.1 billion program that will create 10,000 construction jobs and 3,800 permanent jobs as part of the redevelopment of McCormick Place and Navy Pier.

”We are thrilled that IRCE experienced such terrific results in Chicago,” said Don Welsh, Choose Chicago president and CEO. 

He added, “Its return to Chicago for a six-year commitment is a solid testament that Chicago provides the critical elements for a successful event - central location, skilled labor, diverse hotel inventory, and unmatched dining, culture and entertainment.”

In November, IRCE was bought by George Little Management, along with two other smaller events, from Vertical Web Media.

At the time of the acquisition, GLM’s Chairman and CEO said IRCE fit into the company’s retail-focused portfolio.

“IRCE gives us the ability to embed access to credible e-commerce content and suppliers into our existing shows, above and beyond IRCE’s strong base of participants and growth prospects,” he added.

Dooley said a smaller formatted event – IR Focus – consisting of exhibitors and education in most cases – already is being integrated into some of the GLM shows.

The first show IR Focus will debut at is the renamed NY NOW (formerly the International New York Gift Fair) in August.

“IR Focus will have different versions with each show, depending on the facility and the audience,” Dooley said.

For example, NY NOW will only have an education component, but IR Focus at Surf Expo will have the education, as well as a pavilion with approximately 25-30 exhibitors, he added.

Next May, IR Focus will be collocated with ICCF and four other GLM shows running at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center at the same time.

“It’s about covering geography outside of Chicago,” Dooley said.

In fact, he added, the company is looking at expanding the show into the Western U.S., as well as overseas markets, including Europe and Asia.

“We’re also looking to expand the audience to other retailers who may not identify as e-commerce,” Dooley said.

It’s really about continuing to tap into a market that’s seen tremendous growth and looks to continue to do so into the future with more and more retailers looking to sell online.

“We know from our research that retailers and suppliers whom GLM supports are in a high-adoption phase of online marketing and e-commerce capabilities,” McCurdy said.

IRCE was recently announced as a 2013 TSNN Fastest-growing top show for showfloor growth and will be celebrated at the TSNN Awards Nov. 1-3 in Reno, Nev.

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