E-commerce continues to dominate the conversation when it comes to buyer behavior and the numbers back it up. According to Group M, retail-focused e-commerce will amount to $7 trillion in annual sales activity by 2024. This equates to 25 percent of overall retail sales – a true inflection point for companies that serve the consumer. And while the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns throughout the country have put e-commerce activities on the forefront, the Jacksonville region has continued to expand its critical role in the e-commerce landscape.
Over the last five years, JAXUSA Partnership has been involved in the announcements of 13 e-commerce companies to the region, with a total investment of more than $3.3 billion in infrastructure and the addition of nearly 18,000 jobs at the time of the announcements. Leading companies like Amazon, Wayfair, Article and Ulta have added or expanded their operations in the region, which also serves as the headquarters for e-commerce and IT sports retail company Fanatics. These companies and others have found success due to the hub orientation which gives e-commerce firms of all sizes and growth stages the ability to thrive easily and efficiently.
Transportation and logistics are central to any successful e-commerce operation, making Northeast Florida the ideal location. They understand that products need to ship anywhere in the world and know that Jacksonville provides that connectivity. The region’s two deep-water ports, three major interstates, three major railroads, an international airport system and sizable UPS and FedEx facilities help rank Jacksonville as one of the best cities for logistics infrastructure according to Global Trade Magazine, further establishing validity to the region’s moniker, “America’s Logistics Center.” Robert Peek, the general manager of business development at JAXPORT, recently told Jacksonville Business Journal that “[e-commerce is] changing how retailers and other companies are setting up their supply chains, especially their imports and inland distribution. Many retailers are looking to set up distribution centers near their end-users.”
E-commerce companies also want to start their operations quickly when deciding to expand or relocate. Given the sheer landmass of the Jacksonville region and the availability of scalable warehouse space, the region has ample sites and speculative buildings to support the explosive growth that e-commerce organizations are dealing with today. The region currently has 110 million square feet of inventory in the industrial market and another 1.9 million square feet under construction, setting the stage for continued growth and expansion.
The region continues to foster talent development for e-commerce as well. From preparing the next generation of logistics talent to IT and innovation upskilling, our region’s school districts and institutes of higher learning have focused curriculum and training, certificates, career academies and degrees in the fields of logistics and e-commerce. Couple that with the fact that talent from across the country is moving to Northeast Florida as people leave high-cost, high-density locations, and our region is well-positioned to both grow and inherit talent that e-commerce companies need to meet their strategic goals.
E-commerce plays a significant role not only in today’s consumer experience but in the global economy and the Jacksonville region is committed to growing the sector through world-class infrastructure, business-friendly environment and a skilled talent base.