INDIANAPOLIS — From locally-owned small businesses to national giants like Amazon, the e-commerce industry is increasingly choosing the Indy Region for growth and development due to competitive advantages such as a robust logistics capabilities and a high-value talent pool.
The Indy Region is home to the world’s second largest FedEx Express Hub at the Indianapolis International Airport, which enables exceptionally fast shipping times and the power of convenience—key driving forces behind the e-commerce industry today. And with $1.5 billion in expansion investment through 2025, the FedEx presence in the Indy Region will continue to benefit local industries for years to come.
Now more than ever, small businesses are depending on the capabilities of quick, reliable shipping processes to reach their customer base. The Indy Region’s logistics infrastructure and central location provides local businesses access to shipping advantages and improved transit times compared to other metros throughout the U.S.
Small business retention has remained a top priority for the Indy Chamber and Indy Partnership throughout 2020, focusing on relief efforts as well as initiatives to enhance resilience in the face of the pandemic. Despite the Indy Region’s exceptional ability to ship products directly to customers quickly, the events of 2020 have challenged local retailers to think differently about how they do business, especially during an unusual holiday season that traditionally produces the highest profiting days for the industry.
To remain top-of-mind for consumers, locally owned businesses in the Indy Region have found new ways to stand out amongst the competition of e-commerce behemoths, including getting more visibility for their products through Indy Region newcomer TruLocal. TruLocal, a community-focused online marketplace that allows customers to shop local retailers in a simple and efficient way, announced in July that the Indy Region was chosen as one of the first marketplaces to launch. The platform allows customers to shop by product, category or store, enabling them to shop multiple stores with the same checkout and exposing them to products from local retailers they may not ordinarily consider or be aware of.
The TruLocal platform wasn’t set to launch until 2021, but with the pressure that COVID-19 placed on local businesses to survive, there was an immediate need to assist. “It’s our passion to help communities thrive, especially where e-commerce is valued and expected to grow,” said Gina Lambright, vice president of marketing for TruLocal. “The Indy Region is a model city for TruLocal’s launch, boasting a high quality of place, an engaged Chambers of Commerce, a depth of local “mainstreet” retailers, and a unique sense of community pride.”
TruLocal also provides useful tools to retailers through their platform such as same-day delivery, robust digital capabilities and marketing support. With convenience and delivery time becoming more relevant to customers, specifically in the competitive retail landscape, TruLocal is providing opportunities to these local small businesses that might not be possible otherwise.
In addition to small businesses, logistics companies such as Indianapolis-based Spot, have seized opportunities attendant to Indy Region’s central location and infrastructure by expanding its freight logistics. In a recent hiring announcement, Spot announced plans to double the size of its sales team by the end of 2021 to meet demands from trucking companies and manufacturers in the food, beverage and automobile sectors. Additionally, the company’s spinoff, RED Technologies, a proprietary transportation management software system, plans to hire 50 developers in the coming months.
“We’ve seen an increased demand for our logistics services during the pandemic, with more and more consumers buying online, getting freight to distribution centers and big box retailers shows no signs of slowing down,” said Andy Schenck co-founder of Spot and RED Technologies. “Indianapolis puts in the ideal location not only in terms of distribution lanes, but also in our ability to recruit talent from state universities as well as nationally. Indy is a very desirable location for young professionals, and we see that once our workforce lands here they tend to stay for a long-term career.”
Big-box retailers have also been forced to adapt as e-commerce sales continue to outpace traditional brick and mortar establishments. In response, supply chain capabilities and fulfilment centers have become increasingly critical to success. The Indy Region has become a top destination as a result of this shift, with its advantages of proximity and availability to unparalleled logistics infrastructure. Amazon continues to expand throughout the region, employing thousands of Hoosiers at large facilities in Indianapolis, Whitestown, Plainfield, Greenwood and most recently in Greenfield at the new 615,000 square-foot fulfillment center.
Multinational giant Walmart recently announced that Hancock County will be home to their largest fulfillment center in the US at 2.2 million square-feet. The $600 million investment will create 1,000 jobs by the end of 2025. A vast, qualified workforce, prime location and strong distribution network are noted reasons for choosing the Indy Region for the project, all of which highlight the region’s industry advantages.
“E-commerce will continue to be relevant long after the impacts of the pandemic,” said Sarah Iglehart, vice president of Regional Economic Development with Indy Partnership, the nine-county regional economic development organization that supports the Indy Region. “While this year has fundamentally changed how the industry operates, the Indy Region is well-equipped to connect retailers with high-quality solutions. With an industry-leading logistics network, high-value workforce, loyal consumer base, and diversity in retail size and ownership, e-commerce will continue to excel here.”
ABOUT INDY PARTNERSHIP:
Indy Partnership is a regional economic development organization supporting nine Central Indiana counties including Boone, Hancock, Hamilton, Hendricks, Johnson, Madison, Marion, Morgan, and Shelby. With a strong focus on business and talent attraction, retention and expansion, Indy Partnership strives to elevate the Indy Region as a great place to live, work and do business while also fostering impactful relationships for sustainability and growth.