For e-commerce retailers, the future is looking very bright indeed: New research estimates that $3.5 trillion in transactions will happen online this year, and the momentum is only growing. Sales may reach almost five trillion by 2021. 

All of that opportunity for e-retailers also means some serious competition for customer attention, acquisition, and revenue. If you're thinking of launching an e-com business--or shooting for huge growth for your business in the coming year--you can and should learn from the massive successes (and failures!) of the e-tailers who've paved the road before you.

For me, there's no better place to hear from, and network with, these digital pioneers and icons than at top e-commerce conferences across the country. The five I've included here offer unparalleled access to tools, talent, and leadership across all verticals--and always leave me brimming with new ideas and connections. If you're heading to any of them, please tweet me to meet up!

New York City (July 31-August 1, 2019)

Some of the most recognizable names in direct to consumer (DTC) are coming together over a two day period to reveal marketing strategies and operational insights learned at the helm of the world's most exciting e-commerce brands.

This year's speakers include Maureen Sullivan (COO, Rent the Runway), John Megibow (CEO, Purple), Mickey Onvural (CEO, Bonobos), Ali Weiss (SVP of Marketing, Glossier), and Benn Harrell (CMO, Priceline)--plus leaders from dozens of companies you can't help but follow.

The attendee list at CommerceNext is limited to around 800 digital retail executives and solution providers, with a ratio of 2:1 (so you're able to have more meaningful conversations with the people you've come to meet). The two-day event is structured with keynotes and panels in the morning followed by roundtables and breakout sessions in the afternoon--with an all-important networking lunch slated right in between. 

Choose from among three tracks each day that align with your business goals, including "AI & Marketing Automation," "The Future of Marketing & Ecommerce" and "Retention & Customer Lifetime Value." 

New York City (November 21-21, 2019)

Founded just a year ago in 2018, this conference may be new to the scene--but it brings a wealth of knowledge and exciting speakers together to shed light on the DTC brand economy. 

You'll hear from marketing and communications masterminds at white-hot brands such as Brooklinen, Rothy's, M.M.LaFleur, and Snowe, and explore topics such as creating a community through storytelling, new media channels, and cross-channel marketing tactics.

Direct Brand Summit devotes more time to small workshops and networking opportunities than you'll find at some conferences--which means you're more likely to cross paths with contacts who can directly influence you and your e-comm business.  

Palm Springs, California (February 24-27, 2020)

Legendary CEOs, COOs, and CMOs gather at eTail West (and its cousin eTail East in Boston later in the year) to tackle some of the biggest challenges in online retail and to explore where consumer attention and engagement is headed.

With speakers hailing from a  broad range of brands, including ipsy, Soludos, ThredUp, Calm, and Home Away under one roof, you'll get access to a tremendous amount of e-commerce experience and advice that can help you better understand your own customer. 

Las Vegas (March 22-25, 2020)

2020 is the start of a new decade (let's all just let that sink in for a moment...) and Shoptalk is kicking it off with a look into how retail will transform over the next 10 years. 

As an entrepreneur, I love Shoptalk because it provides a great platform and resources for start-ups and businesses early in their existence. You can apply for start-up tickets (with a discount!), opt to participate in a pitch contest or apply to be a part of Funding Founders, a round-table meeting with various investors that could help you fund your business.

While this year's speaker list is still TBD, past year headliners have included Katrina Lake (Founder and CEO, Stitch Fix), Emily Weiss (Founder and CEO, Glossier), Roger Rawlings (CEO, DSW), and Ben Silberman (Founder and CEO, Pinterest).

Chicago (June 5-7, 2020)

CRMC prides itself for being for retailers, designed by retailers. As a result, the sessions across the three-day conference go deep into what it takes to build a successful e-commerce brand and propel it to double- and triple-digit growth. 

Speakers from a diverse array of brands such as Willams Sonoma, Sephora, Sweaty Betty, Vans, and Foot Locker bring their real-world experiences to sessions focused around topics such as "using AI and machine learning to create real-time customer experiences," "transforming the traditional loyalty program" and "personalized text messaging as a marketing channel." 

Of course, there's also plenty of built-in opportunities to network; check out the full list of brands attend CRMC here.

Published on: Jun 27, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.