Retail Innovation Conference & Expo: The Ultimate Event Guide


Retail Innovation Conference

As we move further into 2023, in-person events have made a comeback after the recent surge in digital events. Today, retail professionals are eagerly looking for the best opportunities to connect with potential partners, stay up-to-date on the latest trends and innovations, and gain valuable industry insights. However, with so many events to choose from, it’s essential to carefully evaluate which ones offer the most significant potential for networking and generating B2B leads. One such event to take a look at is the Retail Innovation Conference & Expo.

The Retail Innovation Conference & Expo (RICE) is the leading event for connected commerce leaders seeking to stay ahead of the curve in an ever-evolving industry. Held annually, RICE is designed to provide a collaborative space for executives across the retail sector to connect, learn, and discover the latest trends and technologies driving the industry’s next wave of disruption. 

RICE brings together over 5,000 top industry leaders to explore the most important commerce trends and success stories in micro-conferences. What sets RICE apart is its unique approach to learning: attendees gain valuable insights from expert speakers and experience the innovative technology and experiences they learn about on the expo floor. Intending to create an active learning and discovery environment, RICE promises to be an exciting and insightful event for anyone looking to stay on the cutting edge of retail innovation and generate B2B leads.

This guide will provide all you need to know to make the most of this conference. 

What Is The Retail Innovation Conference & Expo?

The Retail Innovation Conference & Expo (RICE) is an industry event focused on connected commerce and the latest trends and technologies driving disruption in the retail industry. The conference provides a collaborative space for executives across the retail industry to come together, learn from one another, and discover innovations in connected commerce.

The event includes workshops, sessions, live expositions, and multiple networking opportunities. While the whole event is known as RICE, the exposition’s content sessions are organized into three main micro-conferences designed to meet different jobs and teams’ unique needs. These conferences are IRCE, Design: retail, and the Retail Innovation Summit. 

What Is Retail Innovation?

First off, it is important to understand the essence of this conference. Retail innovation refers to implementing new ideas and strategies that improve the customer experience, increase efficiency, and drive growth within the retail industry. This can encompass many innovations, from integrating new technologies like AI and machine learning to developing new business models, such as direct-to-consumer sales or subscription-based services. As consumer behavior and expectations evolve, retail innovation is essential for businesses to remain competitive and relevant in an increasingly crowded market.

When And Where Is The Retail Innovation Conference & Expo Taking Place?

RICE 2023 will occur from June 13-15, 2023, at the McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago, Illinois. 

The convention center hosted the event in 2022 and is ideal for these conferences. It is one of the largest convention centers in the US and the largest in Chicago, spanning 2.6 million square feet of exhibition space. McCormick Place features multiple amenities, including exhibition halls, meeting rooms, and outdoor spaces. 

Who Goes To The Retail Innovation Conference & Expo?

RICE is designed for a diverse range of attendees. These include retail professionals, technology experts, industry thought leaders, and entrepreneurs. The e-commerce conference can attract attendees across a wide range of sectors within the retail industry. These include retail executives, managers, and professionals covering various industry fields, including brick-and-mortar stores, e-commerce, and multichannel retailers. Technology and service providers, and investors also abound at this event. 

RICE attracts executives, directors, C-level executives, and VPs under one roof. Attendees are also spread across departments. 44% of representatives come from marketing and e-commerce, but a quarter of attendees are faring from Executive corporate management, and 21% come from store planning and visual merchandising. 

This year, over 5,000 decision-makers across store design, e-commerce, social media marketing, and omnichannel strategy will attend to share ideas and have inspirational discussions and roundtables about the future of commerce.

Who Will Be Speaking At The Retail Innovation Conference & Expo 2023?

The speakers at the RICE 2023 will play a vital role in providing valuable insights and knowledge to attendees. Their diverse backgrounds and expertise offer a wealth of information on the latest trends and innovations in the retail industry. The speakers’ presentations, keynotes, and panel discussions allow attendees to gain unique perspectives and practical knowledge to help them stay ahead of the curve and navigate the ever-evolving retail landscape. 

Among the key speakers this year are the following:

  • Amber Bazdar – Director of Global Retail Design, Timberland
  • Julia Berk – Head of Consumer Insights, Snapchat
  • Chloe Mann – Product Designer, Reebok
  • Elizabeth Donovan – Head of Global Ad Revenue, Marriott International
  • Ivan Dashkov – Head of Web3, Puma
  • Jordan Wellbesser – Director Legal and Business, Mattel
  • Chris Burke – Senior Director of Commerce, Google
  • Bo Woloszyn, Senior Manager Digital Strategy, Walmart
  • Lindsay Mikos, Senior Director Omnichannel, Walgreens

What Kind Of Conferences And Sessions Will There Be At RICE? 

RICE 2023 will be split into three micro-conferences with their subsequent summits and special programming. These conferences and programming will be tailored to specific industry roles. 

Core Conferences

The three conferences RICE 2023 will consist of are:


Seen as the connecting point for e-commerce leaders and digital teams, IRCE will hold conferences for digital teams and ladders who want to learn how to grow their brands across social, mobile, marketplaces, and beyond. 

Digital teams and e-commerce leaders can learn how to grow their brands across social, mobile, and marketplaces. Attendees will gain access to real-world insights from retail practitioners to help them reimagine e-commerce, digital, marketing, and social media. 

Space will be dedicated to direct-to-consumer (DTC) and Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) brands. The CPG brand space will provide insights into how CPG brands build omnichannel strategies to grow customer loyalty. Meanwhile, the DTC brand space will set the stage for an innovative forum of DTC players providing tips on how to get your brand on the fast track to growth.

Additional tracks include Marketplace Movement for brands who want to start their marketplace and understand retail media networks.

Part of the agenda will provide valuable takeaways on issues like:

  • Solving new customer acquisition equations
  • Setting the path for omnichannel expansion
  • Mastering retail media networks
  • Insights into the VC World
  • The importance of social communities

Design: Retail Conference & Expo

This conference focuses on store design and brand experience teams to help learn more about store concepts and design trends. This will include a track on design and visual storytelling that will explore innovative ways brands can connect with next-gen shoppers, along with new ways to refresh design concepts and deliver memorable and connected brand experiences. 

A key part of the agenda will touch on issues including:

  • Trends driving urgency around sustainable store design
  • Infusing purpose-led design
  • Bringing brand promise to physical spaces
  • The link between store experience and digital identity

Retail Innovation Summit

This conference focuses on the adaptation to new retail realities. Attendees can get lessons and inspiration from some of the brightest senior leaders in omnichannel and CX. 

Omnichannel executives and CX leaders will deliver insights on issues, including navigating industry disruption and building a new roadmap for brand differentiation. Key parts of the agenda will include:

  • New tech and trends shaping culture imperatives
  • How to align functional teams to drive store experience and innovation
  • Unlocking personalization through contextual experiences and media moments
  • Embedding sustainability into omnichannel roadmaps
  • Balancing speed, efficiency, and sustainability in the fulfillment experience. 

Different tracks will be available on diverse topics, including designing and optimizing digital roadmaps, focusing on the next wave of customer loyalty and customer and employee experience. Another point explored in this conference is the importance of connecting content, community, and commerce by creating immersive and shoppable spaces across channels. 

Key Summits

RICE also includes two key summits.

D2 Retail Edition

The D2 Retail Edition summit at Rice will focus on adopting Web3 technologies. By bringing together leading brand and technology experts to share Web3 concepts, this summit will discuss issues pertaining to the shift in interaction with consumers and how to create new opportunities for revenue streams, marketing channels, community building, and loyalty plays. Other key topics discussed in this summit include:

  • Why Web3 is right for your retail brand
  • The latest updates and trends in the Metaverse
  • How retailers are enhancing revenue streams and customer experience with NFTs
  • Loyalty and reward strategies using NFTs
  • Retail case studies demonstrating community engagement and improved monetization

Visions Summit

The Visions Summit at RICE 2023 is a premium event directed towards entrepreneurs and business leaders and delivered by the media company Future Commerce with assistance from Adobe and Blooreach. The summit is an event for future-minded leaders who want to examine how commerce is changing and speak with people who will redefine the conversation about culture and commerce to future-proof their businesses. 

The summit, which requires a $95 add-on registration fee to RICE, will include keynote discussions, panel discussions, and executive interviews.

Special Programming

RICE also offers a diverse range of programming to make the conference as complete as possible. Some key programs include:


RICE delivers carefully curated and distinct programming for retail/brand executives to engage in interactive and solutions-oriented workshops. This scenario is perfect for collaborating in deep-dive learning with peers and engaging in interactive and solutions-oriented workshops. 

There will be three workshops for $149 for All-Access Passholders and $349 for Expo Passholders. There is also limited capacity for these 90-minute workshops, with only 80 seats available per workshop. Key topics will be addressed in customer experience, marketing, and advertising, culture and innovation, and store design and experience.


Led by George Mason University and ThinkUncommon, two-hour, deep-dive courses will provide unique opportunities to broaden your knowledge. These masterclasses are by invitation only for retailers and brand executives. 

Innovation in Action: Case studies

These 45-minute sessions will let attendees dig into the success stories of retail brands. Here, you can learn how companies implemented and optimized solutions, and these investments have helped businesses tackle key challenges and achieve their goals.

What To Expect From The Retail Innovation Conference & Expo. Is It Worth It?

As one of the largest and most well-known conferences for the retail sector, RICE is a worthwhile event for businesses who want to grow in this industry. Attending RICE 2023 can help companies to learn about new practices in the sector while connecting with other professionals in the retail industry. 

Attending Retail Innovation Conference & Expo should stand out in your event marketing strategy if you work in retail. It is an opportunity to learn more about best practices in the sector and connect with peers in the field. RICE 2023 will bring together industry executives and subject matter experts to discuss various e-commerce and retail-related challenges. This presents several opportunities to learn about the most recent advancements and trends.

Why Should I Attend RICE 2023?

There are several reasons why retail businesses should consider attending RICE 2023. Here are nine of them:

Priceless Networking Opportunities: As with the best marketing events, RICE offers ample opportunities for networking with other professionals in the industry, including vendors, peers, and potential clients. Businesses can connect with key decision-makers and industry experts, build relationships, and establish valuable partnerships to help them grow their businesses.

Learning from Industry leaders: The conference has a stellar lineup of speakers who will participate in expert-led sessions. These thought leaders will share their significant knowledge on various retail-related issues. 

Educational sessions and workshops: RICE 2023 offers workshops led by industry experts. These workshops allow attendees to learn new skills, gain valuable knowledge, and stay on top of the latest trends in the industry.

Case Studies: RICE is an excellent event for learning what other businesses in the sector have done right and to see how your business can take the right steps too. Marketers can attend these sessions, which can help them make informed decisions about their marketing strategies.

Career Development: RICE 2023 allows marketers and retailers to enhance their expertise in linked retail commerce. Workshops and breakout sessions on particular marketing themes are available to attendees, which can help them enhance their careers.

In-person market research: Experts from the retail industry will attend RICE 2023. With hundreds of firms expected to attend or participate, the conference is an excellent chance to assess how your business compares to its rivals and peers. Attending can help you identify any holes in your marketing and business plan. 

Brand exposure: Attending RICE 2023 can help businesses build their brand and increase their exposure to potential customers. By exhibiting at these events, businesses can showcase their products and services to a large audience of industry professionals, generate buzz around their brand, and attract new customers.

Unmissable side events: RICE 2023 will offer plenty of valuable networking opportunities. However, it is best to also leverage events that occur after the main conference takes place. To identify the most suitable events, companies should clearly understand their target audience and create a plan with the help of event intelligence.

Sales reps and marketers can interact with industry colleagues and potential partners who share their business goals by doing this, enabling them to attend more targeted and compact events. This strategy provides more chances to defend the expense of going to the event.

Business representatives can concentrate on connecting with these prospective clients, who are normally difficult to contact outside of this conference, after generating a list of 2-3 prospects for each side event. During the event, leveraging this B2B data can help establish relationships with other attendees, leading to possible leads. 

Can RICE 2023 Improve Business Plans?

Attending RICE 2023 offers attendees an abundance of valuable knowledge and insights. But a lot of marketers also see networking opportunities as a big plus.

Marketers cannot afford to leave Chicago without producing leads because they are frequently held responsible for KPIs and must assess their campaigns’ effectiveness to support the budget expenditure. To achieve this, they must carefully plan and invest in researching and attending events that can provide a positive return on investment.

While there is potential to drive leads through meetings and important sessions at RICE, it is also probable that additional opportunities will emerge elsewhere in Chicago due to the abundance of networking opportunities.

How To Prepare For Retail Innovation Conference & Expo

Deciding to attend RICE 2023 is crucial to growing your number of leads, but it requires preparation. Here are nine tips when preparing for your trip:

Set objectives and goals

Before attending the conference, it is important to define the goals and objectives that your marketing team hopes to achieve. This will probably include generating new leads, increasing brand awareness, or networking with industry leaders. Defining these goals will help your team stay focused and on track to ensure that attending the conference is productive. 

Plan your transportation

Chicago is a big city with a lot of traffic, so planning your transportation is important. Consider booking a shuttle service or ride-share to get to and from the conference venue, and be sure to allow extra time for any unexpected delays. Chicago’s train system, known as the “L,” stops at the McCormick Place station on the Green Line. Several bus routes also serve the area. 

Research the conference

RICE is a big event with several side sessions that may need extra add-on payments or registrations. Some of these also have limited capacity. Research what you would like to attend beforehand. This may include reviewing the conference schedule, keynote speakers, and exhibitors and identifying which sessions and activities are most relevant to the marketing team’s goals.

Create marketing collateral

At RICE 2023, networking with colleagues and peers in your sector can benefit your company. The best course of action is to create marketing materials to bring to the conference, such as many business cards, pamphlets, and branded items. These things can assist in creating a lasting impression and draw in new clients and customers.

Dress appropriately

Dress appropriately: Chicago weather in June can be unpredictable, so pack clothes for warm and cool weather. It’s also important to remember that you will be attending a professional event, so dress in casual business attire. 

Pick a suitable place for your meetings

Chicago is a great location for networking because there are many cafes and eateries where people may connect. Investing in respected private meeting rooms, such as suites, might be another choice for individuals with the financial means to make a more trustworthy and professional impression. Additionally, the correct environment can aid in fostering a welcoming and unhurried culture that promotes free discussion and teamwork between participants.

Use event intelligence to identify the best side events

Even after planning for the Retail Innovation Conference & Expo, what do you do after the event? The networking doesn’t end once RICE shuts its doors. You need to make the most of the small events that are taking place in Chicago. Shortlist your target audience, leverage event intelligence to create a detailed plan, and attend the smaller events that have the kind of audience you need to drive leads and develop quality partnerships. 

Leverage Attendee Data: Discover Who’s Attending The Retail Innovation Conference & Expo And Prepare For It

Using event intelligence, businesses may get more out of RICE 2023 than just the now available meetings. 

Event intelligence combines data from previous events with real-time monitoring and predictive modeling using AI to anticipate future attendees and sponsors. These people might participate in other Chicago events instead of attending RICE.

By using this data effectively, marketing teams can gain valuable insights into who will be where and when allowing them to plan which events to attend to achieve their goals and reach their ideal prospects. Marketers need to adopt a data-driven approach to event marketing to fully capitalize on the range of opportunities available in Chicago.

With a clear map of who will be where and when marketing teams can make informed decisions about which events to attend to achieve their KPIs and connect with their target audience.

Vendelux already has Retail Innovation Conference & Expo attendee data, with thousands of attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors going to Chicago for the event. This information lets you analyze the type of audience who will be at the event. For now, the audience includes 52% of peers with professional seniority, 27% are C-suite executives, and 21% are VPs and Directors.

With preparation and attention to detail, attending the event can deliver a positive ROI by generating leads and partnership opportunities. 

Have An Evaluation And Follow-up Plan Ready

Follow up with any leads you made at RICE 2023 after the conference. Spend some time analyzing and rating the conference performance of your squad. Examine your objectives at the outset and decide if they were accomplished. You should also point out any areas the team needs to work on for upcoming events and make further adjustments to your event marketing plan here. 

Tips When Staying In Chicago For The Retail Innovation Conference & Expo 2023

McCormick Place is located approximately 3 miles south of Chicago’s downtown area, also known as the Loop. The distance between McCormick Place and the city center is around 5 kilometers (3.1 miles). Even from the airport, the conference center is approximately 8 miles (13 km) southeast of Chicago O’Hare International Airport and about 10 miles (16 km) south of Chicago Midway International Airport. The driving time from O’Hare Airport to McCormick Place is typically around 30 minutes. 

The event has negotiated travel discounts and secured a limited number of reduced-rate hotel rooms to make your trip to RICE 2023 and Chicago affordable. Rooms at the group rate will be limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis, and some of the hotels are already unavailable.

The remaining hotels with discounts are the following:

  • Radisson Blue Aqua, $309 a night. 2.7 miles away miles from McCormick Place
  • Doubletree by Hilton Chicago – Magnificent Mile. $335 a night. 3 miles away from McCormick Place
  • Hilton Garden Inn, Chicago Downtown South Loop, $299 a night. 1.5 miles away from McCormick Place
  • Hyatt Regency Chicago, $309 a night. 2.8 miles away from McCormick Place
  • Silversmith Hotel Chicago Downtown, $269 a night. 2.4 miles away from McCormick Place

Summary: Careful Planning Will Maximize Your Experience At RICE 2023

Due to its strong feeling of community and various possibilities for businesses to network and create important relationships in the retail and e-commerce sector, RICE 2023 can be a standout event for many businesses. This year’s event is expected to provide fresh chances for collaboration, uncommon encounters, and retail-related insights that might aid businesses in advancing innovation and technology.

However, the organization’s management must provide the necessary funds and resources as they will be looking for a positive return on their investment. Marketers should take advantage of the multiple after-parties, post-event networking activities, and face-to-face networking possibilities offered in Chicago to get the most out of the event.

It’s crucial to research the pertinent sessions, identify all networking opportunities, list people to meet, and collect the necessary Retail Innovation Conference & Expo 2023 attendance data to gain insights into the people and companies attending the event to get the most out of your visit.

Event intelligence has become essential for businesses to improve sales and generate leads. By utilizing event data and insights, companies can better understand their target demographic, find prospective leads, and develop more successful marketing plans to increase sales, greater client connections, and ongoing business growth.

Discover the Attendees & Sponsors Who Will be at RICE 2023


Stefan Deeran

Co-founder and COO of Vendelux, the leading AI platform for event marketers and conference organizers.

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