WASHINGTON -- Hitching its wagon to the fast-rising star of electronic commerce, the National Retail Federation here has narrowed the scope of its Retail Information Systems Conference and renamed it NRF.com: Retailing and Technology for the New Economy.
While the Riscon show had traditionally provided an exhibit floor and seminars that addressed a broad range of retail information technology issues, "this year the show will have a total e-commerce focus," said Sandy Kennedy, senior vice president of member services at NRF here.
Supermarkets' e-commerce concerns include methods of delivering perishable products quickly and cost-effectively, as well as competition from several third-party on-line grocery companies.
"We think we have a better mousetrap," said Jon Ricker, president and chief information officer of Limited Technology Services, the technology division of Limited Inc., Columbus, Ohio. As a member of the NRF's Information Technology Council, Ricker and other retailers have discussed the future of the technology show and its relevance to today's business.
"One thing we have struggled with over the last 12 to 18 months is, 'Is there a better approach?' We continued to come back to the same thing: Companies are interested in getting deeper on specific topics and less broad than what these conferences typically provided," he said.
The show, to be held in Philadelphia Sept. 26 to 29, will also incorporate NRF's Supply Chain Management Conference, which had previously been a separate show held in the spring, said Kennedy.
Riscon has faced increasing competition from other technology conventions, including the NRF's own annual meeting, held in New York in January, as well as Retail Systems, which will be held June 6 to 9 in Chicago.
"We had about 200 exhibitors [at the 1998 Riscon show], and we had seen a decrease," said Kennedy, adding that the 1998 attendance total of 4,000 "had come down slightly. Our retailer attendance was holding fairly steady, but there were fewer booth personnel."
Sun Microsystems, another repeat exhibitor and sponsor of last year's Riscon show, applauded the NRF's decision to revamp the show.
"Creating NRF.com acknowledges the growing importance of electronic commerce and the Internet to all retailers, and I'm sure the NRF will be hosting an industry-leading event," said Bob DeLaney, worldwide market development manager for retail and distribution at Sun, Mountain View, Calif.
The renamed NRF.com "will still have a trade show component for basic retailing-technology tools, such as point-of-sale and labor scheduling," said Kennedy.
Educational sessions will include one full day of marketing and merchandising issues relating to e-commerce, including Web design and customer service, Kennedy said.
The next three days will cover strategic e-commerce concerns, including business and financial issues. "Day two will be 'How do you do e-commerce,' and day three will be 'How do you make it successful and measure it,' " she said.
With this concentrated curriculum, the NRF is hoping to attract "a number of new attendee groups," she added.
The NRF has already lined up major sponsors for each day's educational program, according to Kennedy: IBM, Armonk, N.Y.; Andersen Consulting, Chicago; and Nortel Networks, Toronto.