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21 Sessions, Presentations and Workshops You Can’t Miss at IRCE 2019

IRCE is arguably the ecommerce industry’s biggest and most influential annual event.

Representatives from all around the globe flock to the trade show to talk about all-things-ecommerce technicalities, marketing strategies, and general networking.

IRCE is the who’s who of ecommerce – and it doesn’t discriminate.

Marketing, IT and development teams all block hotel rooms near one another, jetting off to hear what’s new and what’s next in their channel before heading out for drinks and dinner during the night.

This year, more than 10,000 ecommerce employees are expected to attend.

From workshops and boot camps, to hearing from industry leaders you often read about in the news, these are the IRCE 2019 moments that aren’t to be missed.

What Is IRCE?

IRCE @ RetailX – the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition – is an annual event held in June in Chicago, Illinois.

It draws more than 10,000 ecommerce professionals to the shores of Lake Michigan with more than 130 speaking sessions, 16 tracks and nearly 600 vendor exhibitions.

When is IRCE?

IRCE @ RetailX is June 25-28, in Chicago at McCormick Place South.

Why Should I Attend IRCE?

IRCE is a who’s who of ecommerce professionals.

It is the industry’s most trafficked annual conference combining high-profile brand executive tracks down to workshops to train junior employees.

How to Get the Most Out of IRCE

To get the most out of IRCE, you need to plan.

The conferences and tracks are a great way to get the education and thought leadership you need, but the happy hours and pre-IRCE events are a great way to network and meet the folks you’ll be working with throughout your ecommerce career.

The IRCE @ RetailX agenda is created with insight from editorial experts from Internet Retailer magazine — so you know the best topics will be covered.

Here are IRCE 2019’s top events.

Must-Attend IRCE @ RetailX 2019 Sessions + Pre and Post Events

1. Ecommerce Boot Camp: Muscle Up to Grow.

One of the 3 workshops on the first day, June 25th, the Ecommerce Boot Camp poses a friendly, informal day of active participation and learning for people who are interested in creating an ecommerce website.

Here are the topics that are featured in this day-long boot camp.

Site Design: Taking Your 101-Level Site to 201 and Beyond

  • Kevin Richards, CEO, Ventura Web Design

You have an ecommerce site, but you know that it could look better — with photography that gets shoppers’ attention, product detail pages that pop, and other aspects of the online experience that draws shoppers in.

With basics in place, what are the most important design elements to address when revamping your early ecommerce site into something more sophisticated?

There isn’t only one path, and this session will help attendees assess their existing site design and their best options on where to start their next round of improvements.

What to Know Before You Go

An early Internet entrepreneur, Kevin Richards founded Ventura Web Design & Marketing, a full-service agency that has helped clients generate more than $1 billion in revenue, in 1997.

In other words: he knows his stuff.

In his 24 years of experience, Kevin has worked with more than 1,000 companies to help them achieve their online goals.

As you’re building out your ecommerce website, it’s important to factor in the costs associated with branding, design, and development — especially if you’re working with an agency.

Selling on Marketplaces: Why and How

Forrester Research estimates that half of all U.S. e-retailers already are selling on marketplaces, with that percentage continuing to rise.

Amazon, eBay and a few other giants get the largest share of marketplace sales. A number of niche marketplaces target audiences such as seekers of handmade items or independent sellers.

This session will address the value and the drawbacks in selling on marketplaces, including costs to retailers, how to track inventory, and how many and which marketplaces can make sense for your business.

What to Know Before You Go

Plenty of brands see multichannel success by using marketplaces like Amazon and Ebay, but the question lies within when to bring marketplaces into your growth strategy. This session will be great for brands that are interested in potentially entering those markets, but aren’t sure of the right path forward.

What You Need to Know about Behavioral Metrics

  • Ashlee Colliver, Lead Marketing Strategist, Classy Llama

  • Brittany Graham, Director, eCommerce, Tombow

Behavioral metrics, such as which pages visitors go to when they reach your site, have been less of a priority to site operators than revenue or traffic.

That’s changed with Google and Facebook algorithm shifts that value behavioral metrics indicating how good or bad the user experience is on a site; and how they relate to SEO rankings and quality scores for Google and Facebook ads. If your user experience is lacking, your site is more likely to lose organic traffic, and cost-per-click on your PPC ads will be higher.

Join this session for a better understanding of behavioral metrics, and take away actionable items that will help move your site in the right direction to increase traffic, conversion rate and ROI.

What to Know Before You Go

Hosted by BigCommerce partner Classy Llama, this panel addresses a popular topic that’s been in a lot of conversations lately — what parts of the user experience can be improved to help drive more traffic to ecommerce websites.

2. Hitching a Rocket to an Engine, Bonobos and Walmart Take Off.

  • Andy Dunn, Senior Vice President, Walmart

IRCE 2019’s Day One Keynote Speaker, Andy Dunn, formerly CEO of men’s apparel retailer Bonobos and now senior vice president of digital consumer brands at Walmart, will share how the key to unlocking the full potential of these digital brands may actually require physical stores.

Bonobos, which Andy co-founded in 2007 right out of the Stanford graduate school of business and sold to Walmart a decade later, stars in a portfolio of brands acquired and incubated by Walmart as an investment in its digital future. Join this presentation to kick off IRCE 2019.

You’ll learn why digital brands are growing at nearly triple the rate of ecommerce overall and why Andy believes the future of retail is beginning to resemble the history of video.

What to Know Before You Go

Bonobos — most recently hailed as the “DNVB College” — is a household name when it comes to direct-to-consumer brand transformations.

This keynote will be thrilling for any direct-to-consumer brand who is interested in taking the next step towards acquisition, partnerships, or other innovation.

3. The New Retail Imperative: Be A Leader in Ecommerce Technology.

  • Brendan Witcher, Vice President, Forrester Research

The opening session of the Strategic Guidance for the Retail C-Suite track on June 26th is all about new technologies that are entering the ecommerce space.

The primary force driving today’s retail economy is ecommerce technology. Knowing that, tech companies are introducing advanced digital solutions at a mind-boggling pace that challenges top retail executives to make technology investments that are vital to growing sales and profits.

In this session, a leading Forester Research analyst reviews the latest ecommerce technologies and identifies those achieving measurable improvements in retail competitiveness.

IRCE is all About Connections and networking

IRCE is massive and brings together thousands of people of different roles, backgrounds and demographics.

It has always been an excellent opportunity for us to catch up with so many partners, customers, prospects and just old industry friends.

2019 won’t be an exclusion.

Plus, not only do brands and vendors know their stuff, they also know how to party!

4. Attention-Getting Strategies to Build Brand Value.

This Wednesday track is all about the brands that have the current spotlight: Think Native, Parachute Home, Moon Juice

These sessions where you want to be if you’re a DTC brand that wants to learn from the innovators, the dreamers, and the move-makers.

Here are just a few examples of the day-long agenda:

How I went from an idea to $100 million

  • Moiz Ali, CEO, founder, Native Cos

In two and half years, Moiz Ali built Native, a multimillion-dollar web-only deodorant brand that was on trend and turning a profit when he sold it to Procter & Gamble for a reported $100 million.

In this session Ali shares how he spotted a market gap, developed Native from an idea to full-scale operations and gained a loyal following of consumers who spread the word and made the brand a best-seller. He will also share what’s next for Native now that it has the backing and reach of one of the largest CPG companies in the world.

What to Know Before You Go

The rollercoaster of the Native brand — from being one of the first DTC brands, through to an in-store placement at Target and an acquisition from P&G — is one that industry experts watched in great anticipation.

Echoing in the steps of the Dollar Shave Club / Unilever deal a year prior, Native is just one of many brands that large CPG retailers are looking at in order to break through to smaller niche demographics.

Go Offline to Build Online: Plan and Track Brand Awareness

  • Chase Fisher, Founder, Blenders Eyewear

  • Luke Droulez, CMO, Parachute Home

The web is saturated with advertising, and a young e-retailer needs to be versatile in how it drives brand awareness and acquires new customers.

In this session, two online retailers will share the offline marketing and advertising methods they incorporate into their marketing mix, how they measure the reach and effectiveness of these methods and their ultimate value to a growing brand. Methods covered include live event/sponsorship marketing, outdoor and broadcast mass advertising, and direct mail.

What to Know Before You Go

Rising CACs are everywhere, and brands are scrambling to understand how to capture the wallets of Millennial and Gen-Z shoppers. Go to this session to follow the trends in offline activation.

5. Breakout Tactics for B2B Selling.

IRCE saved the best for last — this half-day track on Friday, June 28th about the B2B landscape is something that all potential B2B sellers should stick around for. Global B2B ecommerce revenue will top $6.7 trillion by 2020, and there’s still a lot of confusion around the best approach to selling to businesses online.

Some great speakers pop up in this track — you don’t want to miss what they have to say:

B2B Ecommerce: What’s Cutting-Edge Now

  • Penny Gillespie, Research Vice President, Gartner

A top industry analyst will sort out which new digital trends and technologies deliver the most value to B2B online sellers. Manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers charged with succeeding in e-commerce must choose well from an ever-growing universe of technologies and systems.

Our speaker will cover what online sellers should have in place right now to stay on top and what’s on the horizon, assessing personalization driven by artificial intelligence, internet of things systems to streamline inventory management and more.

What to Know Before You Go

B2B selling is not new, but B2B selling online is a topic that it seems everyone is talking about. Viewers at this panel should expect to hear about some interesting and innovative new technologies, especially for traditional B2B sellers who are interested in revving into an omnichannel strategy.

Marketplaces: Amazon Business, or – Or Other?

  • Jeff McRitchie, VP, eCommerce & Marketing,

  • Joe Caldwell, eCommerce Manager, SIM Supply

Veterans of selling through Amazon and other marketplaces will share their strategies for deciding what to sell through which marketplaces — including the differences between selling through Amazon Business and the Business-Industrial-Scientific section of

Our speakers will cover how to decide which marketplace opportunities are best for your business and how to get the most out of the ones you choose.

What to Know Before You Go

All growing businesses go through a stage where they consider expanding into online marketplaces, including Amazon. This panel will walk viewers through the different nuances associated with selling on Amazon, and how they can affect any merchants’ business needs.

Executive Summary

IRCE is the ecommerce industry Who’s Who event. These sessions are only a handful of talks being given, parties being thrown and so much more.

The exhibit halls turn into a one-stop-shop for ecommerce networking, business development, and relationship-building.

Plus, Chicago is a fantastic spot to be in June.

“We want to connect with brands that have outgrown their ecommerce architecture and are serious about getting help; we want to learn about what’s up and coming, and we want to meet new partners that want to help customers together.” — Becky Parisotto, Director of Business Development, Acro Media Inc.

Be sure to bring your running shoes along with your business suit. The trail along Lake Michigan is full of early risers and joggers you’ll be bound to see again in the seats next to you at The Expo Center.

Interested in visiting the BigCommerce booth at IRCE 2019? Schedule an appointment here.

Corinne Watson avatar

Corinne is a writer and researcher at BigCommerce, where she works directly with agency and technology partners to bring their tools, services and ideas to the commerce industry at large. Before BigCommerce, she was an education specialist at Skills Fund, where she built resources and ran trainings to give students access to life-changing skills. Corinne holds degrees in graphic design and psychology. After college, she transitioned into the marketing and research space through a self-taught mindset – and works to bring the value of that skill and mindset to others. When she’s not writing, she’s volunteering with nonprofit organizations, traveling the world, or digging into a new book.