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History of IRCE – Past, Present, and Future

By Last updated on: June 21, 2023

The annual Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition (IRCE) will occur June 3-4 in Chicago, IL. This event for online businesses began in 2005 by Vertical Web Media with 45 exhibitors and 1,150 attendees at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. The size has continued to expand each year and nearly exceeded 10K in 2017, with each new conference reinforcing IRCE’s reputation as the largest hall in the e-retail industry, where traders can connect with exhibitors such as Refund Retriever, Shipworks, BigCommerce, and many more.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes


The first IRCE was in 2005, located in Chicago, and started by Vertical Web Media, which published the e-commerce magazine Internet Retailer. Internet Retailer 2005 cost $795 for a full two-day conference pass, including 34 conference sessions and 45 speakers. In November 2012, IRCE and VWM were acquired by George Little Management LLC. Emerald Expositions Inc. acquired IRCE in January 2014. In addition to IRCE, Emerald operates more than 50 trade shows and occupies more than 6.9 million square feet of exhibition space. IRCE covers more than 250,000 square feet each year.

The initial 2005 Internet Retailer Conference event was small compared to future years. In two years, the event expanded to include 4,087 attendees in 2007 and more than doubled in 2012 with 8,638 attendees and 564 exhibitors. Compared to 2015, 9,616 people interested in e-commerce attended the conference in Chicago, and it saw almost 10K attendees during the 2017 event.

IRCE has hosted an internet retailer conference every year from 2005 to 2019. Locations include Chicago, San Jose (2007), San Diego (2011), and Boston (2009), and the conference will remain in the Windy City until 2020. Refund Retriever made its first appearance as an exhibitor in 2011 in San Diego, making 2019 the ninth time exhibiting.


IRCE 2019 Refund Retriever

In March 2018, IRCE announced an agreement today to co-locate with GlobalShop, the largest annual event for shopper-facing retail design, technology, in-store marketing, and RFID Journal LIVE! Retail. This event will operate under the name RetailX and bring together three distinct shows. In short, to create an intersection of e-commerce, store design, and innovation. The event will occur June 25-28, 2019, at McCormick Place in Chicago.

IRCE 2019 had 571 exhibitors, including Refund Retriever. The location was McCormick Place South in June for two full conference days. Attendees can choose from over 130 strategic education sessions focused on marketing tactics, brand building, and recruitment. 

WHAT IS RetailX?

Refund Retriever IRCE 2019

RetailX’s goal is to help optimize business in a transforming retail landscape. More than 20,000 will attend, and more than 1,200 exhibiting brands. Educational tracks will allow attendees to gain a significant competitive edge in the rapidly evolving retail world.

In addition, two other events will be taking place. GlobalShop is the world’s largest annual event for shopper-facing retail design, technology, and in-store marketing. RFID Journal LIVE! Retail is the world’s only RFID event specifically for retail applications.

Retail Innovation Conference & Expo

Recently, IRCE was incorporated into a large conference called the Retail Innovation Conference & Expo. This tradeshow groups multiple into one. IRCE is much smaller than it once was. Hopefully, it will continue to grow.

Brian Gibbs

Author Brian Gibbs

More posts by Brian Gibbs

Brian Gibbs | President of Refund Retriever

Brian Gibbs founded Refund Retriever in 2006 while running his first eBay-based business and seeing the shortcomings of other shipment auditing companies. Refund Retriever's primary focus is FedEx and UPS parcel invoice auditing. After graduating from Texas A&M University in 2001, he graduated from the University of Houston in 2004 with a JD and MBA. Gibbs has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, and other publications discussing parcel auditing, shipping, e-commerce, and more. Learn more at or call (800) 441-8085 for more information.

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