While the national job market is showing tentative signs of recovery, Philadelphia’s e-commerce sector is growing so fast, many local employers can’t hire talent quickly enough.
According to Forrester research, e-commerce is expected to see double-digit growth through 2013 to a total of $240 billion in transactions, making online retail a wonderful option for a city looking to continue its reputation as a place with a growing technology job market (third in the nation according to a January CyberCoders study). After surveying some of the region’s entrepreneurs we’ve found that a steady stream of Philadelphia e-commerce shops are busy building out their own strong ecosystem.
One of Philly’s fastest growing online retailers, Revzilla, is tucked away in a South Philly warehouse within walking distance of long-time Philadelphia lunchtime staple John’s Roast Pork. Once you walk through its nondescript neighborhood and enter its warehouse, you’ll see a bustling showroom of motorcycle gear and back office with a rapidly-growing staff aiming to be “The Zappos of Motorcycle gear” — a reference to the Las Vegas-based shoe company that grew radically thanks to a focus on customer service before eventually selling to Amazon for $1.2 billion in 2009. Co-founder Anthony Bucci says Revzilla did over $20 million in total sales and hired more than 25 people in 2011, nearly doubling his staff, and is considering its next steps.
eCommerce exposed: Philly Tech Week panel event
- WHAT: The Business and Technical Realities of the Modern E-commerce World.
- WHEN: Thurs. April 26, 10:30-12:30 pm
- WHERE: ‘Search Church’, 1028 N. 3rd Street, Northern Liberties
- FREE RSVP here
- DETAILS: This is a 2-part session looking at the business and technical side of e-commerce. Tickets are available for each session individually or for both sessions. O3 World is hosting and moderating event, which is being held at the headquarters of Seer Interactive.
“We love our Philadelphia address and the Philadelphia talent pool,” says Bucci, noting that two of three co-founders have graduated from Drexel. “Being over the bridge just wouldn’t be the same.”
In Old City, Christian DiMarco’s business has a different focus: lamps. The co-founder of Lamps.com is building a growing e-commerce destination with the help of Arch Street Lighting, founded in 1914. The site was named one of the region’s fastest growing businesses at the Philly 100 event in October and is up to 15 employees in a little more than a year.
While Bucci and Lamps.com each have warehouses full of shippable goods, most of Philadelphia e-commerce-related job growth is in supporting services. Most notably Monetate, headquartered in Conshohocken, has been among Philadelphia’s fastest growing startups providing commerce optimization tools like A/B testing to large realtors like QVC.
The company has grown from a handful of employees huddled in a shared office space to more than 90 in a cavernous office building in downtown Conshohocken in four years.
The city’s web development shops are also experiencing rapid growth. Old City’s Weblinc, O3 World and Queen Village’s SUMO Heavy Industries have all moved into new offices in the past six months. SEER Interactive, the SEO firm that counts many local e-commerce businesses among its client base, just recently moved into the “Search Church” a church at Third and George streets that houses the company’s better-than 40 employees.
Perhaps the best part of Philadelphia’s commerce ecosystem is that, well, it’s an ecosystem. The companies above all routinely work together and use each other’s services. For example, Lamps.com counts SEER as its SEO consultant. Revzilla was one of Monetate’s earliest customers.
DiMarco says that some even get together routinely for a dinner to swap advice and war stories.
“We know each other very well,” he says.
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