Thoughts on Another IRCE Gone By
It's been a week since the close of the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition (IRCE) in San Diego and I'm just now getting the opportunity to put together my thoughts of the show. My first impression was that the event keeps getting bigger each year.
In fact, I got that impression before I even stepped foot into the convention center where the conference was being held. In the cab from the airport to my hotel the driver asked if I was in town for the “internet conference.” After telling him I was, he responded by saying that everyone he picked up that day was in town for the conference. Well, apparently the cab driver and I were on to something: This year's IRCE drew over 7,300 attendees, a 14 percent increase from last year and a record for the event.
Those attendees discussed all the latest technologies available to cross-channel retailers, from behavioral retargeting ads to digital catalog apps to Facebook storefront platforms. But what I came away thinking was that a pair of issues — online sales tax and tracking consumers’ online browsing behaviors — have captured cross-channel retailers’ attention. With legislation pending on each (individual states are deciding whether to collect sales tax for online purchases; Do-Not-Track is being debated in Congress), the online retail landscape could be quite different by the next IRCE.
Retail Online Integration columnist George Isaacson led a session at IRCE on helping attendees understand their exposure to tax challenges by states as well as what they need to do before they get a big tax bill in the mail. But the talk of online sales tax wasn't limited to that session alone. When asked what challenges his business is preparing for going forward, ReStockIt.com's CEO David Redlich said that all online retailers should be concerned with states passing online sales tax laws, particularly smaller businesses like his.