Earlier this month, I traveled to Chicagoland to attend the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition (IRCE) 2017! If you don’t know, IRCE is the eCommerce industry’s premier annual event, a 4-day blowout with top-flight speakers and a ton of eCommerce movers and shakers. Over 10,000 people attend IRCE, and this year marked 13 years of operation.
As its name implies, IRCE is both a conference and a tradeshow. Hundreds of speakers come to speak at the conference portion, holding workshops, hosting roundtables, and giving presentations to share their expert knowledge with thousands of attendees.
Conference topics included subjects like selling on Amazon, eCommerce technology, B2B strategy, and customer service. With so much to offer, choosing what to attend could be a real challenge. Thankfully, the organizers had our backs; sessions were arranged by themed tracks, with each ballroom hosting sessions on a specific theme each day. Attendees could wander, popping in and out of sessions that piqued their interest, or they could park themselves in one spot and get a comprehensive deep-dive into a specific subject. Very smart.
While the conference always offered top-flight knowledge, another big draw—and the reason I attended this year—is the IRCE exhibit hall.
The Exhibit Hall is a veritable eCommerce big top, both Networking Nirvana and Solution Shangri-La. Hundreds of booths represent technology solution vendors, eComm agencies, and more. Between conference sessions, retailers would take a break and hit the exhibit hall. There, they could get some crucial face-time with people they already do business with, while also exploring new offerings and opportunities to help them grow their businesses. And maybe even meet a robot or two!
MailChimp says: “Ditch the Pitch!”
Of course, in a sea of new faces, even the most extroverted person can get overwhelmed, so it was great to see a very friendly, very familiar face looming over the crowd in several spots: Freddie, the OG MailChimp! MailChimp was one of the many technology representatives with an IRCE booth this year. It was their second year attending, and they did not disappoint!
MailChimp’s booth proved once again that they’re committed to doing new things, putting their customers first, and providing a unique brand experience. Rather than taking the bog-standard hard sell approach, they left the salesmen at home and used their booth as a drop-in customer support station. MailChimp customers—and anyone else with questions about email marketing or marketing automation—were invited to stop by for a no-strings-attached chat with their experts. The approach was a big hit; their booth saw lots of traffic and lots of great questions!
Partnering with MailChimp at IRCE
In addition to their own support staff, MailChimp staffed their booth with a select group of industry experts from other companies as part of its newly rolled out Partner Program. Partners were given “office hours” in the swanky MailChimp partner lounge to address his or her own area of expertise. I was thrilled to be asked to participate, sharing my knowledge on using MailChimp for Magento. I spoke with so many retailers from companies large and small. It was amazing to be given a platform to speak directly with people and realize I was genuinely helping them with their business. We had lots of people take advantage of the opportunity to stop by, grab some delicious coffee, and talk shop at the partner lounge.
Working with MailChimp at this year’s IRCE just solidifies why we enjoy partnering with them so much. Like our team at Gauge, the MailChimp team truly lives their company values. And so many of their values align with ours: They have a deep focus on helping their customers and nurturing business growth. Their number one priority is giving businesses of all sizes the tools they need to boost their teams and revenue. And it doesn’t hurt that they’re committed to providing solutions that “just work;” their platform is easy to use and includes the marketing automation eCommerce retailers need to run a successful business. The partnership is a natural one, and we look forward to many more ventures with the MailChimp team!
I had a great experience at IRCE this year. One of the biggest benefits of attending an event like this is the chance to put faces to names and really develop the relationships needed to help your customers. I was sad when the lights turned out at exactly 4 pm on Thursday, but the roar of applause in the exhibit hall makes me excited for next year.