Last week was the world famous Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition (IRCE) in Chicago where thousands of retailers, vendors and eager students gathered to devour the online retail industry's latest innovations, strategies and presentations by great leaders in the space.
With over 200 speakers, 600 vendors and an array of opportunities that come about by being anywhere within the 250,000 square foot stoping ground, IRCE is not a show to miss if you're serious about retail.
However in order to make your time worth while without getting overwhelmed or missing the boat on your greatest opportunities, here are some tips for survival and making the most out of this exceptional show:
Five Tips to Success at IRCE:
1. Chose where to spend your time
Plan which areas have your greatest interest and spend time there. There are four main categories of the exhibition hall:
- marketing/merchandising/social media
- e-c0mmerce platforms
- customer support/order processing/payments
Chose one, maybe two of these to spend your time in, and speak with as many people as possible. If you don't you'll find yourself wandering in an abyss of foreverness, not really finding any value in anything because you were spread too thin. Focus. Rinse and repeat.
2. Plan your meetings in advance
Before I left I had breakfast, lunch and dinner planned every day with people I wanted to spend special time with. I left a little flex room one afternoon as well, which resulted in a one hour meeting turning into a highly productive 6.5 hour meeting, which could mean millions of dollars to our brand. It's a good idea to leave a little flex room so you can catch the shows, meet with the people and make the decisions that are right for you and your business.
3. Three heads (and bodies) are better than one
This show is so massive, so high value, it's better to have more people covering different areas than sending only one person who misses 95% of the opportunities. There's only so much ground one person can cover. This goes for both the sessions and the exhibition hall. Or, worse case scenario, have one person attend the sessions and the other work the floor. Whatever you do, if you send more than one person make sure you split up. The point of having more people is to leverage different opportunities rather than follow each other around getting the exact same experience. Collaboration is more effective if you split up and meet throughout the day.
4. Attend the networking events
Magento threw a phenomenal party the first night of IRCE. Probably 1000 people came, and they covered food and open bar for everyone. High profile clients and vendors attended, and it was an amazing opportunity to meet new people, all of which could benefit from knowing each other. My #1 tip on events - know all your options for each night and sign up in advance to make sure you get in. They fill up fast.
5. Follow up
We all get caught in a flood of emails and follow ups from trips like these and its understandable that you're busy upon return. However you must resist the temptation to push those business cards aside for a later day. Timeliness is everything, and a later day could turn into a later month which could turn into never. This means you've just wasted your trip from a relationships standpoint. Stay in touch. Reach back out. Schedule another call to remind each other what you do and build those relationships. Its those relationships that lead to new business or learning opportunities that could mean the difference of your ongoing success or not.
How many of you went to IRCE this year and what were your major highlights?