Ecommerce Conferences: Intro

Best ecommerce conferencesWe’re here today with an awesome guide which gives you the REAL scoop on what ecommerce conferences are worth their weight in gold and which ones suck.

Of course there are many shades of grey and interpretations are subjective, however, we were able to get a number of different sources to comment on a variety of ecommerce conferences around the net.

Ecommerce Conferences: Your Say!

What’s going to make this Ecommerce Conference Guide really cool is your participation in building it out. If you have an ecommerce conference that you want to review, whether it’s on this list currently or not, please email me directly at andrew(at)cpcstratblogsite.kinsta.com and we will get you going, (granted you are not a robot or an employee of that conference).

That’s it, hope you enjoy this E-commerce Conference Guide!

Ecommerce Conference Reviews:

1. Etail West

2. Miva Merchant Extraordinary Conference

3. Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition

4. ICE Retailer Ecommerce Conference

5. MozCon

6. Etail East

7. SMX

8. SES Chicago

Etail West Ecommerce Conference

Ecommerce Conference Review By: Andrew Davis, Director of Marketing, CPC Strategy

Name Of E-commerce Conference: Etail West – http://www.wbresearch.com/etailusawest/home.aspx

Location Of E-commerce Conference: JW Mariott Desert Springs Resort & Spa in Palm Desert, California.

Who Is This E-Commerce Conference For?

Etail West is for retailers of all shapes and sizes. One stipulation is that a majority of retailers did have their own .com, so content and vendors are tailored to help those retailers.

It’s also for vendors trying to reach these retailers. Almost all retailers we spoke to at the ecommerce event had annual revenues of more than $1,000,000 and many exceeded $10,000,000 / year.

Why Or Why Not Is The Etail West ECommerce Conference One Of The Best?

As a vendor I was not impressed with the Etail West Ecommerce Conference. Booths were cramped, isles for retailers to walk through were tiny and not inviting, and retailers were in general more turned off by vendor interaction than other ecommerce expo’s I’ve attended.

Needless to say we did talk to some quality retailers that made this conference break even on the investment we put into it. However, costs are extremely high for vendors, and this particular e-commerce event is run by WBResearch, a large conference organizing company, who has no guilt in nickel-and-diming vendors at every chance possible.

Overall we spent around $22,000 exhibiting and attending this e-commerce convention. Luckily it was in Palm Springs so we were able to drive there from San Diego and save some cash.

The Ecommerce Convention Food:

Instead of giving handout lunches or providing a buffet grab and go style meal, meals were set up in a large tent that seated maybe 1,000 or 2,000 people. You had to wait to eat, and while you waited, you got pitched by a company. A little awkward after attending ecommerce conference sessions all day and/or manning a booth to then have your supposed relax time taken up by a company talking about their products and services.

Also, just waiting for the food at this ecommerce conference, while it was good, was straight up cheesy. This is not a political dinner. Give me my food to go. I got work to do.

One thing that always disturbs me about this conference is that regardless of the fact that Etail appears to be all about great content and awesome sessions that companies have to pay to speak! Retailers may speak for free but any software or service provider up there on stage got a speaking gig baked in or added on to their sponsorship contract. How lame is that?

Speakers should be appointed organically based on speaker proposals and the credentials of the speaker. Not by how much cash a company pays. We got several complaints about the quality of the sessions at Etail West, and to be honest I’m not surprised.

What This E-Commerce Conference Needs To Improve On:

– Content, Ecommerce Expo Sessions
– Vendor placement and setup
– Vendor appreciation (encouraging networking between retailers and vendors)
– Number of retailers at the event
– Food
– After-Conference Events

Any Additional Comments On This Ecommerce Conference:

If you’re a vendor, skip this ecommerce conference and go straight to the source to save a bunch of money. EtailInsights.com is a company partnered with Etail West that has all of the lead information from users at the conference. They’re a good group and will help you get in front of the right retailers for a lot less.

If you’re a retailer, skip this ecommerce conference and head to the Internet Retail Conference and Exhibition.

Miva Merchant Extraordinary Ecommerce Conference

Ecommerce Conference Review By: Mary Weinstein, Content Manager, CPC Strategy

Name Of E-commerce Conference: Miva Merchant Conference – Extraordinary Ecommerce – http://www.mivamerchant.com/conference

Ecommerce Conference Location: Hyatt Regency, La Jolla CA

The Miva Merchant Extraordinary Ecommerce Conference was held at the Hyatt, which is a beautiful hotel located in scenic La Jolla, a great location for locals and those traveling alike.

Who Is The Extraordinary Ecommerce Conference For?

This ecommerce event is for retailers and ecommerce merchant vendors of all shapes and sizes.

Why Or Why Not Is The Miva Merchant Extraordinary Ecommerce Conference One Of The Best?

There were a couple of things which Miva did different with their Extraordinary Ecommerce Conference which encouraged me to mark it on my calendar for next year.

A. For the Extraordinary Ecommerce Conference, Miva Merchant did something unique in that the main room for all of the keynote speakers was also the location for the conference vendors.

Often at conferences, there is a large room for vendors (there tend to be many), which merchants are enticed into with food. As attendees, we tend to take that as par for the course, vendors struggling to have conversations with merchants and merchants proactively avoiding booths.

The Extraordinary Ecommerce Conference had a limited number of vendors, and the main room was used for keynote talks, networking and was lined with vendors. This setup was refreshing and created an opportunity for genuine conversations less focused on sales and more on sharing information.

Further conversation was encouraged by food and break-out sessions being held adjacent to the main conference room on the same floor. I was able to walk in and out of the main room for individual talks, food and breaks throughout which was great for getting work done and having some really great conversations with merchants. I was able to learn a lot from the speakers and chatting with merchants, but with a more overall homey feel.

B. I really applaud Miva in their choice of speakers.

Merchants were able to listen to ecommerce experts including Neil Patel, and Tim Ash who focused on ecommerce more specific strategy such as blogging and website design.

In addition to these more traditional speakers, online sellers heard talks from a former crime family member, and a religious leader. While entertaining, these talks were also more importantly really informative, and provided a more holistic tips and insight into online marketing and organization.

What the Miva Merchant Extraordinary Ecommerce Conference Needs To Improve On:

A. Miva Merchant organized and hosted the Extraordinary Ecommerce conference, so it’s appropriate that they had a couple of headlining talks from their CEO Russ Carroll and COO Rick Wilson.

However, for me these talks were a little dry, and not applicable to those of us not using the Miva platform.

B. The location of where food was distributed was really well organized, and allowed merchants to do work and socialize without being stuck in any one location throughout. However, meal options were a little sad. If I don’t eat chicken for the next two week’s it will still be too soon.

Any Additional Comments On The Miva Merchant Extraordinary Ecommerce Conference:

This is a really well organized and personable conference, and I would highly encourage vendors and ecommerce merchants alike to attend.

MozCon Conference

Ecommerce Conference Review By: John Doherty, Office Lead and Senior Consultant, Distilled NYC

1. Name Of Ecommerce Conference:
MozCon (SEOmoz’s Annual Conference) – http://www.seomoz.org/mozcon

2. Who Is This Ecommerce Conference For?
Search engine marketers, primarily inbound marketers focusing on SEO, content marketing, and social.

3. Why Or Why Not Is This Ecommerce Conference One Of The Best?
MozCon attracts the top inhouse and agency marketers and speakers. It’s one of the best because every speaker brings actionable insights that marketers, whether analysts or managers, can take back and implement that day. It’s not uncommon to see bosses sending notes directly back to their teams saying “We need to implement this now!”

4. What This E-Commerce Conference Needs To Improve On:
MozCon isn’t a strictly ecommerce-focused, but the marketing advice given applies to ecommerce companies from technical, content, and social perspectives.

5. Any Additional Comments On This Ecommerce Conference:
MozCon is the conference that I, as a search professional, attend every year simply to learn. The speakers bring actionable and realistic advice that is applicable to all companies.

Etail East

Ecommerce Conference Review By: Jeff McRitchie, VP of Marketing, MyBinding.com

Etail East has been hosted in Boston the past two years and is moving to Philadelphia for 2013. It is an excellent e-commerce conference target primarily to mid to large sized online retailers. Retailers from all types of verticals attend the show and there are often smaller retailers present. However, it seems that the cost to present/display/sponsor the show is substantial enough that most of the vendors are looking for larger engagements that price many smaller retailers out of the market. This is probably a result of the slightly smaller show size which makes it harder to attract lower priced vendors. The vendors who do attend tend to be industry and technology leaders and we have found a number of great partners through the show.

1. Name Of E-commerce Conference: Etail East – http://www.wbresearch.com/etailusaeast/home.aspx

2. Who Is This E-Commerce Conference For? Mid-large sized online retailers

3. Why Or Why Not Is This Ecommerce Conference One Of The Best? Etail east has some awesome vendors, partners and presentations. You can learn a ton. However, it is smaller than many of the other conferences and many of the vendors are looking for large engagements with mid to large size retailers.

4. What This Ecommerce Conference Needs To Improve On: Many of the presentations and round table discussions turn into glorified sales presentations by vendors. Obviously they pay a lot of money to be at the conference and to present. However, the big sales pitch gets old.

5. Any Additional Comments On This Ecommerce Conference:

Etail East is a great place to go to learn. There are almost always a number of awesome presentations at the show that are worth their weight in gold. The keynotes are usually awesome. However, the round tables and some of the vendor presentations have a tendency to turn into big sales pitches disguised as case studies. In these cases I tend to head to the show floor and meet with vendors to learn about the new technology that is available.

There tends to be an excellent assortment of retailers that attend this conference. You can count on meeting digital marketers or executives from some of the largest online/offline brands in North America. However, I have also met several entrepreneurs and individuals who were just getting started with online commerce. For smaller retailers who are just getting started it is a great place to learn. For larger retailers there are awesome partnerships and engagement opportunities available.

All of that being said, this review would not be complete without mentioning the food and the “networking events”. One of the best things about the show is that the organizers and the vendors do an awesome job of showing everyone a great time. It is not uncommon to have 3-4 dinner invitations for each night of the show. Plus the cocktail receptions and networking events are excellent as well. Definitely worth a trip to the east coast for some business mixed with pleasure.

SMX West Conference Review

Ecommerce Conference Review By: Scott Nickels

Name Of E-commerce Conference: Search Marketing Expo (SMX) West – http://searchmarketingexpo.com/west/

Location Of E-commerce Conference: San Jose McEnery Convention Center

Who Is This E-Commerce Conference For?

Search Marketers – Paid, Organic, and Social Media Marketers

Why Or Why Not Is The Etail West ECommerce Conference One Of The Best?

Level of talent the show draws – attendees and speakers – is undoubtedly tops in the industry.
Top to bottom, one of the best organized shows – from check-in/registration, housekeeping updates before/during show, moderation of panels/speakers, quality (and quantity) of food, access to speakers and event organizers, and after-hours events (sanctioned or otherwise) – the Third Door Media team knows what it takes and delivers. Despite Danny Sullivan’s attempts at acting and comedy, these shows are a wealth of information, great networking opportunities, and a worthwhile investment of time and dollars.

What This E-Commerce Conference Needs To Improve On:

While not every show can cater to the advanced search marketer (the SMX Advenced show each June is truly focused on not-for-newbies material), a track of advanced material at each show will keep the seasoned veterans better interested and coming back.

Any Additional Comments On This Ecommerce Conference:

Some of the smaller shows that are once-per-year get raves for their quality, however, the SMX shows draw a much wider audience and rotate worldwide with as good as, if not better, talent. Great value for the dollars expended.

Full disclosure: I spoke @ SMX West in March (two sessions) for which my registration was covered. I speak regularly on topic of Search and Online Marketing. Excepting SXSW, I have attended most of the trade shows in our industry over the past 5 years.

SES Chicago

Ecommerce Conference Review By: Miranda Miller, Content Marketing Manager at TopRank

Name Of E-commerce Conference: Search Engine Strategy (SES) Chicago – http://sesconference.com/chicago/

Location Of E-commerce Conference: Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile

Who Is This E-Commerce Conference For?

CMOs, CTOs, Online Marketers of all levels, IT/Web

Why Or Why Not Is The Etail West ECommerce Conference One Of The Best?

The variety of brands, agencies, industry leaders and marketers makes for fantastic networking opportunities in sessions and in conference-related activities. High caliber speakers and sessions are interesting and informative. SES Chicago conference staff are well organized, ensuring session materials including decks and video are available to participants post-conference. I typically try to spend a few hours in the expo hall and have been introduced to quite a few useful services and tools from the vendors at SES.

What This E-Commerce Conference Needs To Improve On:

I’d like to see less intro and more advanced level sessions. With that said, there’s no shortage of opportunity for even seasoned marketers to learn.

Any Additional Comments On This Ecommerce Conference:

SES Chicago seems to be the most e-commerce-focused of the SES conference series in North America. It’s a great multi-discipline marketing event for in-house or agency marketers and consultants.

Ecommerce Conferences: Your Say!

If you have an ecommerce conference that you want to review, whether it’s on this list currently or not (we can include multiple reviews of the same conference), please email me directly at andrew(at)cpcstratblogsite.kinsta.com and we will get you going, (granted you are not a robot or an employee of that conference).

 

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