For Fort Worth ecommerce centers, holidays are like the Super Bowl of business

dfwnewsa | December 19, 2023 | 0 | Fort Worth , Fort Worth News

For Fort Worth ecommerce centers, holidays are like the Super Bowl of business

Brock Hesse, a temporary worker at Marketplace Prep, demonstrates the ornament packaging and labeling process at the company’s fulfillment center Nov. 29, 2023. Marketplace Prep will package and label 280,000 ornaments this year. (Seth Bodine | Fort Worth Report)
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It’s ornament season for James McConnell Jr. and his business, MarketPlace Prep. His warehouse will box and label about 280,0000 ornaments for online sellers during the holidays this year.  His distribution warehouse works with businesses that buy products from wholesalers, distributors and brands and sell them online. Marketplace Prep gets about 50 pallets of product a week that workers have to prepare to transport through Amazon. The business acts as a middle man to label and bag the products to meet Amazon’s standards. 

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Ornament season can start as early as July, McConnell Jr. said. To make everything work, it requires constantly adjusting to changes, he said. “There’s always an Amazon change, a trucking change of this,” McConnell Jr. said. “There’s always something. And, if you’re not on top of that, then you lose customers.”

Many fulfillment centers in the area experience an influx of business during the holiday season. The Dallas-Fort Worth area has emerged as a top market for ecommerce distribution centers. Third-party logistics companies for food, beverage and retail took up 4.1 million square feet of the area’s industrial transactions this year, according to previous Fort Worth Report coverage. 

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The holiday season is a big time for ecommerce — nearly 77% of shoppers said they would shop online this year, according to a survey by the real estate firm JLL. To meet the demand to get everything out on time, fulfillment warehouses have to dramatically increase the amount of workers. Often, they rely on temporary workers. 

Hunter Sebresos, CEO of the temporary work app Bacon, said the amount of work between September and December triples for both distribution centers and his company.“That’s where a lot of these fulfillment centers are, you know, making a lot of their annual goals,” Sebresos said. “And that’s where we as a company are also making a lot of our annual goals.”

At a smaller business like Marketplace Prep, that can mean increasing to up to 19 workers on a given week, depending on the truckloads of product that need to be shipped out.Keller resident Brock Hesse has worked with Marketplace Prep through the Bacon app. He moves pallets of boxes in the warehouse to prepare for shipment to Amazon. Hesse, who eventually wants to run an ecommerce business himself, said he’s seen firsthand how the work ebbs and flows.“We received 13 pallets we weren’t expecting, and the warehouse is pretty full already,” Hesse said. “So that was like, ‘Uh-oh, I’ve got to move a bunch of stuff around.’”  

Hesse, who has worked in contract construction and as a high school physics teacher, said he likes the gig work. 

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“It gives me the flexibility to schedule … how I need and just that supplemental income,” Hesse said, “especially this time of year (to) buy gifts, all the things.” 

Larger fulfillment centers, like ShipHero in Fort Worth, need a lot more workers. Gerald Adams, operational manager of the 170,000 square-foot center that acts as a fulfillment center for more than 100 online sellers, said he increases the number of workers from between 40 and 50 to 160 during the holidays. During Black Friday, for example, the center can get 50,000-60,000 orders. 

Adams describes the shift in seasonal work as night and day — from less stress to a lot more.“It’s a challenge,” Adams said. “But we’re getting it done.” 

Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at seth.bodine@fortworthreport.org and follow on Twitter @sbodine120.

At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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