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PREVIEW: IRX 2012: The Fast Track Conference

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In our latest preview of one of our major events of the year, Internet Retailing Expo (IRX 2012), we take a look at our conference agenda. The Fast Track Conference will be held on March 21, the first day of the free-to-attend two-day event and is for those looking to get their ecommerce or multichannel business up and running.

Retailers who are currently looking at taking an existing business online or creating a new internet business have a great inbuilt advantage. While they may be later to the digital revolution there’s much that they can learn from the experiences of those that have gone before.

In the Fast Track conference at Internet Retailing Expo (IRX 2012) we’ll be looking at how entrepreneurs and existing retailers can do just that, with a line-up of speakers that includes ecommerce veterans.

The conference, sponsored by Amazon Services Europe, considers issues from putting best practice to work in new businesses to the need to make every pound spent work as hard as possible.

Our keynote opening speaker is Mark Brant, PayPal’s sales director for the UK and Ireland, who will consider how new etailers can get quickly to the point of modern online payments. Today shoppers can pay for their goods in ways as varied as from their mobile phone, through contactless credit card payment, while digital wallets look set to be a commonplace of future retailing. Brant, speaking at 10.30am, will consider how retailers can make sure they are at the forefront of offering payment methods.

He will be followed by John Sollars, managing director of, at 11am, who will share his experiences of starting up and running three businesses over times that have included two recessions. He’ll be teaching by example through the lessons he’s learned from his experiences, and advising entrepreneurs of the future on some of the essential do’s and don’ts of retail in an online age.

At 11.30am, Andrew Rowson, chief executive of Towequipe, and Keith Bird of eSellerPro will explain how Towequipe grew from an eBay shop to a multichannel retailer with a chain of shops. The path it took has included using technology to automate tasks and solve supply chain challenges, leaving Towequipe free to concentrate on the customer.

At noon, Dr Dave Chaffey, chief executive of Smart Insights, will be looking at how retailers can make sure they are getting the most out of their search marketing budgets. This is a particular chalenge in a market where the rulebook is constantly being rewritten as Google introduces more innovations.

After lunch, Mark Stokes, head of media, marketing and communications at Barnsley Football Club will show how the club has engaged and monetized its Facebook fan base. He will be presenting alongside Chris Small, chief executive of VendorShop, who will also explain how some other businesses have achieved their own successes, at 1.30pm.

At 2pm, Robert Blamires, senior associate at law firm Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP, which has also advised the Office of Fair Trading on its internet enforcement programme, will outline the legal and compliance issues that eretailers need to be aware of. They range from distance selling regulations to consumer protection issues.

And at 2.30pm, it’s the turn of Michael Thornhill, chief executive of sports retailer Activinstinct, who will consider the opportunities and challenges presented by expansion into new international markets. He’ll be sharing some of the lessons that Activinstinct has learned as it has itself moved into major new European markets, in France and Germany.

The closing keynote presentation will come from Amazon Services Europe at 3pm.

Entrance to IRX 2012, which will be held at the NEC in Birmingham on March 21 and 22, is free. More than 4,000 visitors are expected at the event, which features an exhibition of 150 suppliers to the ecommerce and multichannel industries alongside a two-day learning programme, Selling in the Digital Age.

The programme features four conferences, dedicated to M-Retailing, Fast Track, Enterprise and Customer Experience, as well as a series of workshops, learning sessions and demonstrations of the latest technology.

To find out more and to register click here.

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