to Become Advocate for Web Retailers, the world’s leading membership community for online retailers, said Wednesday that it is expanding into advocacy and public policy.

The association’s board of directors, comprised of nearly two dozen industry leaders including executives from the nation’s largest brands, unanimously voted to broaden the mission to include advocacy at its meeting last month. As a part of the initiative, is creating a policy advisory group, comprised of online retail executives, to identify potential issues and provide guidance in advocacy efforts.

“The online retail industry needs a strong voice in the policy arena to match its growing economic force,” said Scott Silverman, executive director. “Conversations about online retailers are happening on Capitol Hill and it is time that became a part of them.”’s initial advocacy agenda will expand upon lobbying efforts of its parent, the National Retail Federation, on issues such as “card not present” interchange fees and spyware. Other issues include click fraud, patent trolling, and net neutrality. In addition, will continue its work with NRF’s Association for Retail Technology Standards, helping to create benchmarks and guidelines for the industry.

“By focusing on the specific needs of online retailers, will be able to expand upon the work that NRF has already accomplished in this area,” said Tracy Mullin, National Retail Federation president and chief executive officer and a Board of Directors member.

According to the State of Retailing Online 2007, conducted for by Forrester Research, online sales are expected to rise 18 percent to $259.1 billion this year. In 2006, online sales rose 25 percent to $219.9 billion. draws thousands of attendees to its annual online retail conferences and workshops. It also holds dozens of regional meetings each year and is viewed worldwide as a destination for online research and trends. Its 600 members include the 10 largest retailers in the U.S. and 70 percent of the Internet Retailer Top 100 E-Retailers.