How YOU Doin’? The Skinny on the Shows
It’s amazing how upbeat people can be at industry events regardless how well or poorly their businesses are doing, isn’t it? I just wrapped up a month in which I attended two major conferences (ACCM in Boston and Internet Retailer in San Jose, Calif.) and despite the striking difference among attendees, it seems that everybody’s doing just grand.
But are they?
Having flagged as many of you down as I could to ask you how you’re doing, I came away from ACCM believing you truly are. And as we look ahead toward the second half of the year and make holiday season plans, my sense is that catalogers and other multichannel merchants should feel — and plan — optimistically.
As for Internet Retailer, I couldn’t get anywhere near as clear a picture. A more heavily attended but less involved (with regard to the sessions) a conference, there’s a greater emphasis on education than schmoozing there.
What’s more, Internet Retailer attendees are a little more in the trenches than ACCM attendees, so their immediate concern is more on figuring out the next best search marketing technique rather than worrying about their most recent quarterly performance. And whereas most attendees at the Boston Catalog Conference were first and foremost catalog mailers, there were very few catalogers to be found at Internet Retailer.
Nevertheless, I got a fairly positive vibe from Internet Retailer as well even though the topics du jour at the two conferences were considerably different.
But if you think the catalog/multichannel business is dominated by smaller, entrepreneurial companies with sales averaging in the double-digit millions, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. According to one source, 36 percent of Internet Retailer attendees were from companies with annual sales of $10 million or less. Many were from Internet-based companies, some of which serve a middleman function between Web site host company and customer. A few were from dedicated retailers and there were hardly any catalogers.