‘Bigger is better’ is no longer the best strategy for retailers looking to stand out in today’s consumer-driven marketplace. As same-day and next-day delivery become the rule, not the exception – retailers are trading large, rurally located distribution centers for smaller spaces located in metro areas.
Strategically located in the fastest-growing consumer market in the Southeast U.S., Jacksonville, Florida has become a hot spot for retailers looking to get closer to the consumer and embrace a new way of thinking when it comes to their distribution models.
E-commerce giant Amazon opened its first distribution center in Northeast Florida in 2016 and has since added four more fulfillment centers in the area with plans for a sixth recently announced – and for good reason. Jacksonville offers a unique combination of tools helping brands meet today’s delivery demands including speed to market, a variety of warehouse space options and 845,000-plus skilled workers.
When it comes to getting closer to the consumer, there is no better place to be than Florida, ranked the third largest state in the U.S. by population and growing. The state currently boasts 21.8 million people with more than seven million of those residents living within a three-hour drive of JAXPORT terminals, according to the Florida Office of Economic and Demographic Research.
Rich Doty is Geographic Information Systems Coordinator and Research Demographer for the Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR) at the University of Florida. Doty reports the 2030 projection for Florida’s population will reach 24.4 million people and in 2040, 26.5 million.
Shipping cargo through the Jacksonville Port Authority (JAXPORT) allows retailers to quickly reach this growing consumer market – and fast. With more than 100 trucking firms, operating in and around Jacksonville, cargo is quickly transported from the port to a distribution center in the region. JAXPORT’s terminals are located minutes from three major highways, providing seamless connections to markets throughout the Southeast, including Florida’s growing I-4 corridor as well as the Atlanta and Charlotte markets.
Brands can also put the area’s UPS and FedEx sort centers to work for their last-mile parcel distribution – both of which have recently completed multimillion-dollar expansions. This is just one of the many attributes of the area offering shippers a true seamless transportation experience – from shipping the product into the U.S. to last-mile delivery to the consumer.
Not only does Jacksonville offer speed to market – the area has more than 138 million square feet of flexible warehousing space ready to handle a variety of cargo types. From furniture and handbags to make-up and tires, Jacksonville’s warehouse space is equipped to handle it all. Other retail giants now call the area home, including Wayfair, Bridgestone Tires, Ulta and Coach. These companies are taking advantage of the area’s low operating costs and a skilled labor base trained to handle the ever-evolving technology in today’s supply chain.
New Jersey-based LaRose Industries, LLC, or Cra-Z-Art, which manufactures and distributes toy and stationery products, opened a new distribution center in Jacksonville in later 2019. Tampa Bay Business Journal quoted LaRose Industries’ Chief Operating Officer Randy Tarino: “Jacksonville was eventually selected due to JAXPORT’s superior advantage, as it regards the frequency of container ships from China and due to the availability of a building suitable to the needs of LaRose Industries within the required time frame.”