Trip to the Windy City: IRCE (Internet Retailer Conference & Expo)
It’s been a crazy 2014, so many trips to different events, conferences and shows. Heading to Chicago for the Internet Retailer conference came at a rough time for me personally but the show was outstanding. As we flew out from Orlando to Chicago, some of the stress came off and I prepared for a great show with some of my favorite people. It was going to be great seeing some friends from Bronto in a different setting.
We landed in Chicago, hopped in a cab and ventured to the hotel. As we pulled up to the entrance, I thought about how the last time I was in town was for the Chicago Marathon and how amazing that weekend was, and how great this show was going to be. It was a prime location in the South Loop. We were one block from Lake Michigan and walking distance to the convention hall. Well maybe some wouldn’t consider 1.6 miles walking distance but I hate cab lines. Amazing location!
After getting settled in, we head over to the conventional hall for the kickoff happy hour gathering. It was a great opportunity to walk the expo hall in a casual setting and not have people trying to sell you something. That is always great when you want to map out where things are to truly optimize your show time the next two days.
It was great seeing all the different providers and their booths. Most of them were familiar brands, things we’ve researched, tested, implemented, etc. But some were new and exciting. It was going to be a truly great show.
On the first day I went to several educational breakout sessions. Many of the topics I picked were about marketing so the topics were analyzing user data, identifying personas, narrowing consumer behavior and habits, and much, much more. Overall 95% of what I was listening to is what we do and that’s always nice to reinforce that you’re on top of things. I’d hate to go to a conference and be overwhelmed with new info. Then I’d have to question my expertise in my chose profession. Always better to reinforce and add a few techniques or tidbits.
Throughout the day I mixed in walks through the expo hall. There were so many widgets, data feeders, analytic tools, smart searches, and PPC tools to discuss, review, and evaluate. It was great to be able to ask questions to the people from the various companies and see which tools will integrate into a client program without massive costs and without major programming. I found several new tools that we’re excited to implement into the client toolbox. It’s going to be a busy couple of months as we drive more traffic, feed more comparison engines, and capture more customers for our clients.
One of my greatest takeaways from the show was how powerful and robust Magento Community is as a platform. We’ve had several clients bring it into the mix for upgrade options. A couple of them are in process already. But being at the show and seeing that everything and everyone integrates with Magento. That’s a testimonial to get behind.
The week started out very overwhelming for me, as Sunday was the one year anniversary of a very good friend’s death. He was a true American hero, KIA in Afghanistan. That was very hard as I’ve thought about him every day since his passing. Then to land in Chicago, the home of another great friend who passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly in February, it was a week filled with emotions and sadness.
I went for a run along Lake Michigan in hopes to take my mind off of things. It was great to sweat out the sadness, stress and dinner from the night before. It wasn’t one of my better runs, only 4+ miles at a decent pace when running, but I stopped quite a bit to sit and admire the sights, reflect on things, and enjoy my time in the Windy City. I love #ChiTown. The run was just what I needed to bring it all together.
Thankfully the show was mixed with friendship and fun, dinners with great friends that live in other parts of the Country, and a lot of show shenanigans to take my mind off of things. During one of my runs I stopped at Soldier Field and took some pictures at the memorial. Overall it was a great way to pay respects to my fallen friends, while reminiscing with good friends that live in the ecommerce world.
Until next year Chicago, I say goodbye. Thank you for the great memories.