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History of IRCE – Past, Present, and Future

By Last updated on: January 17, 2019


The 14th annual Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition (IRCE) will begin next week in Chicago, IL. This leading 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 e-retail industry, where traders can connect with exhibitors such as Refund Retriever, Shipworks, BigCommerce and many more.


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 and included 34 conference sessions and 45 speakers. In November 2012, IRCE and VWM are acquired by George Little Management LLC.  Emerald Expositions Inc. acquired IRCE in January 2014.  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 then more than doubled in 2012 with 8,638 attendees and 564 exhibitors. In 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 2018. 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 2018 the eighth time exhibiting.


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

IRCE 2018 promises to contribute to this reputation as a leading force in the world of internet retail. 585 exhibitors, including Refund Retriever, will come together in McCormick Place West in June for two full conference days. Consider making it a four-day trip and join pre and post bookend sessions as well. Attendees can choose from over 130 strategic education sessions focused on topics including marketing tactics, brand building, and recruitment. The exhibition facility allows retailers and traders alike to debrief the sessions and event happenings in a variety of lounge and break rooms. Prepare to engage fully with the e-commerce sector and register for IRCE today.

Brian Gibbs

Author Brian Gibbs

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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 then 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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