On September 23, 2016, Cart Summit, the Midwest’s premier e-commerce conference, will have its inaugural event right here in Fargo-Moorhead.
Cart Summit was inspired by the ongoing success of the e-commerce monthly meet-up Cart Monthly. The meet-up, formerly called E-commerce Breakfast, was started two years ago by Kirk Anton, founder and CEO of Heat Transfer Warehouse, and organized by Emerging Prairie. The group focused on engaging local leaders in the e-commerce industry in conversation with one another.
As the meet-up grew, so did e-commerce in the region. Heat Transfer Warehouse is only one of many e-commerce companies that have headquarters in the Fargo-Moorhead area, but are shipping around the world. Weave Got Maille, based in Ada, MN, ships to 72 countries. DogIDs.com based in Fargo, has appeared on Good Morning America multiple times. RealTruck.com, based in Jamestown, brings in over $60 million a year selling truck parts.
Still, however, Anton said the rise of e-commerce has been steady but quiet in Fargo.
“You don’t realize that Edie [Ramstad, founder of Weave Got Maille] and all these other people employ over 25 people,” Anton said. “You don’t hear about those stories. We’re like the underground. People don’t realize we exist.”
With Cart Summit, he hopes to highlight how e-commerce is seeing success in the region, while also encouraging it as a beneficial next step for businesses.
“Everybody has to look at it,” Anton said. “We need to embrace it and make it work for everybody. [e-commerce] opens up your markets to 50 states and beyond.”
He also hopes Cart Summit can grow into a magnet that brings e-commerce big shots to Fargo. Already this year the speaker lineup includes an executive at United Parcel Service (UPS), the founder of successful online t-shirt company CoedMonkey.com, founder of Jamestown-based superstore RealTruck.com, and the founder of T&Co an e-commerce tea company.
The conference, organized by Anton and Emerging Prairie, will be a combination of keynotes and interactive workshops, each focusing on three tracks: CEO/Founder advice for current and soon-to-be founder in e-commerce, marketing techniques for e-commerce , and logistics such as shipping, packaging, wholesale and more.
“This is not a conference where you’re sitting and listening to presentations all day,” Lindsay Breuler, Cart Summit event coordinator, said. “This is going to be interactive, participants will be engaged throughout the breakout sessions.”
Most importantly, Cart Summit leaves room for attendees to mingle with each other and with the speakers; something Anton said is sorely lacking from other similar conferences he has attended in the past. The conference will include a smatter of special features as well, Breuler said; rumor has it there may be a pop-up ice cream shop from Florida-based marshmallow-making marvel, Wondermade.
All these festivities and more will take place in what some might peg as a surprising venue: the Moorhead Center Mall. Despite the mall having seen decreasing foot traffic over the years, the organizers of Cart Summit vouch for the potential of the space.
“We’re re-imagining the Moorhead Center Mall as a space,” Breuler said.
As the inaugural event, Breuler and Anton estimate an audience between 100 – 150. But long term, Anton has high hopes for this becoming a prime spot for e-commerce leaders across the globe.
“It’d be great to have 1,000 people,” he said. “We want to get more people here, to put Fargo on the map as far as being a center for what e-commerce can be.”