The IRX: Why should you visit? An exhibitor’s review

July 22, 2019

If you’re curious about visiting the IRX in 2020, the Channable team gathered some valuable insights to help you decide based on real experience.

IRX review

Early in April 2019, Channable exhibited at one of the UK’s biggest online retailing events. The IRX has been running for over a decade and hails many retail industry players. The organizers have endless amounts of materials and testimonials praising the fair that they freely share. But sometimes it’s good to hear it from the companies who were actually there.

Channable has pulled together its overall tips, insights, and opinions on 2019’s IRX to help you decide whether to visit or not.

IRX in a nutshell:

Where? The NEC, Birmingham
When? Weds 3rd & Thurs 4th April 2019
What? A trade fair for players in eCommerce and online retail.
How much? Free for visitors!

Type of traffic:

Visitors: Most visitors came from middle-market companies in online retail. There weren’t many one-man-band eBay sellers but also fewer large retailers. There were many directors or CEOs of smaller companies in the crowd. The audience itself was mostly British, less international compared to other fairs i.e. the eCommerce expo. As the fair is close to the airport and relatively far from Birmingham city, people tended to come with a purpose. Some were attending to talk to a specific stand – AWIN was in particular very popular as they were offering the chance for an attendee to join AWIN for free, usually, the setup is £5. Others were curious about new trends or tools that could help their new company. There was also a hand full of summit and conference salespeople looking for exhibitors for their own events. Therefore, if you are thinking of going, do your research as its quite far to travel to browse. Tickets are free so you can decide last minute if you want to attend.

Exhibitors: The IRX was hosted in the same hall as the eDX (eDelivery expo) so as well as many companies that exist to assist online retailing there were also many packaging and postal companies. There were payment systems, online marketing channels, multi-channel solutions like Channable, PIM systems, eCommerce marketing agencies, website developers, eCommerce platforms, couriers, international postal services, and more. There were fewer international companies (bar from the big players e.g. AWIN and Trustpilot) and there was less of a focus on international expansion.

Speaker themes:

The speaker sessions were mostly centered around delivering more to your customers aka customer-centricity. Additional themes included growing internationally and new technologies. Gymshark was a particularly notable speaker this year. Their talk, hosted by Klarna, was on building a loyal community through product innovation raked in a large audience and lots of praise.

Busiest areas:

The IRX Bar was agreeably the busiest area. Overall the fair was never heaving with people. Some workshop spaces would overflow, but the traffic at a theatre or workshop depended on the speaker. If you see a workshop you want to hear, we’d recommend you arrive early to grab a seat because the workshop spaces only sat 36 people.


Busiest times:

10.45 am – 15.30 pm on both days. If you want to avoid the crowds and queues earlier morning and later afternoon would guarantee you some peace and quiet.

The stand that impressed us the most:

Klarna and their flower bomb selfie wall.

The giveaway that impressed us the most:

Ayden had personalized beer bottles.

What to bring?

In terms of lunch, as mentioned, the IRX isn’t near a city, but the NEC houses a few food joints e.g. Subway, Costa Coffee, etc. The fair itself sells your standard lunch choices and refreshments. Many stands will give out water, Channable has a fridge stocked with soft drinks and a coffee machine. If you’re considering whether to bring your business cards, Channable recommends it’s always a good idea. Whilst the use of scanners is increasing in all fairs, many exhibitors, including Channable, still collect business cards or have an alternative method to follow up. It may be a business/more formal attire event, but the hall was fairly large so comfortable shoes is always a good shout. It did get a little cold too, so bring layers! There weren’t any lockers, so best bring a big bag or grab one from an exhibitor to store all the goodies you’ll pick up.

Good to know:

Unless you’re exhibiting or have your heart set on attending both days, Channable recommends that attending one is enough. The NEC is located at Birmingham airport and is a fair distance from any villages or cities. The Channable team stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Birmingham Airport and would highly recommend it. If you’re staying in Birmingham city, Lost & Found was a great place to dine and unwind after the two days.

Our overall rating:


The fair itself is very similar to other retail fairs across the UK, the IRX didn’t have anything significantly different to offer. Naturally, the visitors and exhibitors were a little different so if you had your heart set on seeing someone, go! However, if there are similar fairs closer by, save yourself the travel costs. Nevertheless, it wasn’t a total miss, and the team thoroughly enjoy exhibiting.

Were you also at the IRX? What was your experience? We’re curious to hear. Furthermore, if you have any questions about the fair or Channable, feel free to get in contact with a member of the Channable team.

Senni Whitaker
Marketing UK

Senni is responsible for the UK marketing at Channable. In her role she
writes a lot of content in the field of e-commerce and online marketing.