Holmes Custom Pushing Tech Growth

Today we want spotlight our involvement in the 2019 Tech Coast Conference. We are proud to announce that Promo180.com, one of the websites within the Holmes Custom family of brands, is the official sponsor for this summer’s conference.

As the sponsor, Promo180 will be providing printed collateral, signs, name tags and other promotional materials for conference vendors.

The Tech Coast Conference is a one-day event that takes place at the TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, FL on August 21st, 2019. Holmes Custom is continuing to expand its digital presence by being a part of this innovative event.

Tech Coast Conference

As Jacksonville’s biggest technology event, the Tech Coast Conference gathers IT professionals, business owners and executives, product managers and digital marketers in one place. Tech enthusiasts from all backgrounds are invited to spend the day learning, exchanging ideas, and propelling Jacksonville to the next phase of IT development. This marks the 6th year of the annual conference.

The conference features speakers such as Jim Stallings a local entrepreneur, Dr. Johannes Ullrich, Dean of Research at SANS Technology Institute and Josh Scobee, a former Jacksonville Jaguars Football Player, as well as a panel of experts from Jacksonville Transportation Authority. The speakers will cover topics such as developments in cyber attacks, data governance, AI, cloud technologies, and other global trends.

Designed by The Jacksonville Chamber IT Council, Tech Coast Conference is a forum for local business to share solutions for advancing the digital landscape and it plays a key role in connecting IT decision makers and key stakeholders. This event helps develop partnerships and create employment opportunities in North Florida.

Staying Competitive in the eCommerce Era

Satisfying our Holmes’ customers goes beyond offering top quality business products, personalized gifts and novelty items. As the parent company of seven online brands, Holmes Custom must keep up with digital trends to stay afloat in each of its business verticals.

At Holmes Custom, we intelligently route orders, managing geolocation, capacity and manufacturing processes for 3 separate locations. We are able to do this with a tech team focused on growth and scalability capabilities through fully responsive platforms.

Jim Gruhn, our Chief Technology Officer and an active member of the Jax Chamber CIO Council, is part of the executive leadership that has brought us to a place where we now sell thousands of products and employ a team of 100 talented staff members we call “Holmies.”

Gruhn is dedicated to finding the next innovative solution for Holmes Custom. His team of full stack engineers, a UX developer and Systems Administrator use open source and best of breed technologies to continually deliver. Holmes Custom now operates in all major marketplaces that are integrated with MWS API’s.  His team uses scalable tech platforms to push 7 websites towards eCommerce success.

Holmes Custom is showing its commitment to innovation, digital growth, and the employment of the Jacksonville and surrounding community by investing in local resources such as this. It is our hope that the Tech Coast Conference will play a critical role in helping North Florida mature into an established tech community and make Jacksonville a destination for top talent.

Creative Ways to Share Your Magnetic Business Cards

From multinational corporations to the corner patisserie, business cards are tiny brochures that tell your valued patrons – and potential customers – what you’re all about! And they’re a terrific pocket sized marketing opportunity.



Here are our favorite tried and true ways to jazz up and share business cards so they’re sure to be noticed – and remembered!


A Business Card with a Purpose

Be sure your business card doesn’t become just another card in the deck. Magnetic business cards are terrific for adhering to filing cabinets, refrigerators, or other metal surfaces. Get creative! Use business cards as tickets to special dining or company events, as bookmarks, and even as a reusable discount card for a small percentage off each purchase.


Include a Fun Fact or a Testimonial

When designing your business card, you naturally want it to stand out from the others. And, most certainly, you want the information on your card to be read. Try adding a fun fact that will grab the card recipient’s attention. If you’re a marine biologist or work at an aquarium, for example, you might include a line that says ‘Did you know? An octopus has three hearts’!

 Technology Is In!

Adding a QR code or a specific product SKU to your business cards that offers a discount for visiting your website is an ideal way to easily track the effectiveness of your business cards – and that people are really interested in what information you’re sharing with them.

 Send Those Business Cards in Creative Ways

Send Business Cards along with invoices and to existing – and potential – vendors and suppliers. You may be surprised when an opportunity to gain a new client or expand your business presents itself from something as simple as the interest drawn to your organization via a well-designed business card.

 Show Your Support for a Cause

Just about every company out there loves to give back, whether to the community or somewhere in need around the world. Proudly show your patrons, clients, and guests who or what you support by including a small line about your support somewhere on your magnetic business card, such as ‘We proudly support the March of Dimes.” It may even inspire others to join in and offer support, too!

Instantly Connect Your Face to Your Company

Include your best professional picture or even your favorite social media profile picture (depending on the casualness of your organization) on your business card so that people will remember you and associate you with your business long after your initial meeting.

Best Buddies 2019

This year Holmes Custom teamed up its efforts toward helping the nonprofit organization, known as Best Buddies, reach their annual fundraising goal. If you don’t know, Best Buddies is a “volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development, and inclusive living for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities”1. To help raise money and awareness they hold a walk in 53 different countries and every state in the U.S!

Our Holmes Cares committee got to thinking on how we could raise enough to help make an impact, and they figured it out in the most delicious way possible. On May 2nd, we gathered to share a holmie homemade spaghetti lunch! With pasta, meatballs, garlic bread, and cookies galore we got to feast for a cause. Each Holmie donated $10 towards our fund and in exchange got to devour a delicious meal. With full bellies and smiles, we managed to exceed our fundraising goal! We had a goal of $500 and just from our spaghetti lunch alone we raised $560. But like the dedicated holmies we are, our efforts did not stop there.

A few days after on May 4th, we put on our walking shoes and headed towards Jax Beach. The Seawalk Pavilion hosted 600 people who came to walk for inclusion. Starting off the event, we participated in a group stretch. Then the awards were handed out, and we celebrated their impressive fundraising donations. From high schools, businesses and individual donors it was marvelous to see everyone come together to help reach a common goal. As soon as they cut the ribbon, we eagerly began our walk. We took a few laps along the beach and the pavilion. With music filling the air and the dogs playing around, it was hard not to have a good time. Once the walk came to an end, there were activities for everyone to enjoy. With a bounce house, a silly photo booth and Frisbee toss there was something for everyone. They even served delicious food, like pizza and donuts.

At the end of the day, everyone’s support was well worth it. Not only did our team surpass its goal, so did Best Buddies. With the help of our holmes cares team, the luncheon, and individual Holmie contributions we raised an encouraging $795! Best Buddies goal was 95,000 for the Jacksonville walk, but this event exceeded that number with a record $100,000! Our Holmies were glad to contribute! A big thank you to everyone who participated and donated towards our fundraising efforts. We look forward to doing it all again next year! In the meantime, you can follow us @HolmesCustom to keep up with our work in the community.



  1. https://www.bestbuddies.org/what-we-do/mission-vision-goals/

Health and Wellness Fair

On Wednesday, April 24th we ventured out of the office and into a fair “custom” made for the Holmies team. For the first time, Holmes Custom hosted a Health and Wellness Fair, which was put on by the Healthy Holmies initiative. During this fun event, we visited booths offered by different businesses. Each booth was hosted by a local vendor who supplied products to help us work on our wellness goals. Our wonderful vendors included the Jacksonville Jaguars, Community First Bank, Super Fit Foods, Local Fare JAX, and Anytime Fitness.

Beginning at the Community First Bank booth, we had the opportunity to open a new bank or credit account. This was a great opportunity for Holmies who needed a new bank, and each person even received money for signing up and providing referrals. The big hit of this booth was the cash cube. One of our holmies, Jesse, scored $31 in only twenty seconds!


The second booth was for the Jacksonville Jaguars. We were able to enter a raffle to win stadium tour tickets. Sports fans went to hear about the upcoming schedule and found information on season passes. Just in time for the NFL draft, GO JAGS!

Thirdly was Anytime Fitness, who came to offer us some great deals. Holmes Custom has a partnership with its local Lakewood branch. The branch extends discounts for enrollment and monthly fees. Not only did they present us with a way to reach our fitness and exercise goals, but they also provided a prize wheel that offered gift cards and free classes!

Another super vendor we had was Super Fit Foods. This company delivers meal prepped foods straight to your door. They offer meals to fit almost any diet imaginable, even for those with food restrictions. We also got to try the delicious samples they brought like peanut butter protein cookies and sweet potato protein bars.

Our last vendor was Local Fare Jax. Their motto is, “let us bring the farm to your front door” and they do just that. They deliver fresh produce to your door within 24-48 hours after it has been handpicked or gathered. Using this service is a great way to start working towards your nutrition goals.

For those of us that are Florida Blue members, we had the chance to complete a free biometric screening. Also known as a “measurement of physical characteristics.” In a typical wellness screening, they take measurements of your height, weight, BMI, blood pressure and more.

The first ever Holmie Health and Wellness Fair was a complete success, thanks to the marvelous efforts of our people operations coordinator, Sarah De Nicolais, along with assistance from Head of People Operations, Alice Viego. We also can’t forget the help received from our Holmes Cares committee! This event awarded a few lucky Holmies with great raffle prizes, including $50 gift cards, water bottles, and even stadium tour tickets. Of course, each Holmie who attended the Health Fair received helpful tips on fitness, nutrition and financial wellness. Each booth brought us one step closer to reaching our individual goals!

The 2019 Culture Olympics


Last Thursday the 2019 Annual Holmes Custom Olympics took place at company headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida.

Following a festive barbecue lunch, members of the executive team stepped up to the microphone to share big news with the room full of ‘holmies’ (the affectionate nickname for all company employees). Alice Viego, Head of People Operations, opened with a warm welcoming statement.

Bryan Croft, CEO and President, gave a state of the company address.  He shared some of the obstacles and achievements of the last year. He spoke about where the company has been been and where we are going. He shared his excitement to make it to 65 years in business with a forecast of many more to come.

SEO Assistant Katie Viego and CFO Steve Fernandez

Steve Fernandez, CFO and Vice President, provided insight on how the company plans to pursue the next goals. He introduced holmies to the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) and why the company chose this strategy. He then passed the torch to Jim Gruhn, Chief Technology Officer, who went on to explain how the EOS business model will help the propel the company’s productivity, accountability and growth. He described how the EOS will be the pulse of Holmes Custom’s next evolution.

Holmies ready to hear the new core values.

Bryan returned to the stage  for the big moment everyone was anticipating. Bryan announced the new core values. The Holmie Nation will strive to embody these core values: Grit, Accountability, Passion, Curiosity, Collaboration, and Winning!

After the announcement about new values, Sarah De Nicolais, People Operations Coordinator, shared the rules to the next challenge, and the company broke off into teams to take on this year’s Olympics.

The first challenge was a scavenger hunt. Each team was to search for clues that led to a token representing one of the core values. The teams scrambled around the premises to find the hidden treasure and attempt to finish first. Once everyone conquered the scavenger quest, it was time to huddle up again.

One of the winning teams.

The final competition centered on the question “What do our Core Values mean to YOU?” This challenge turned out to be a great platform for holmies to give shout outs to individuals they have seen demonstrate core values in everyday work. In true Ninja spirit, people shared praise and thanks for employees that have seen model values in tangible ways. The teams brought humor, creativity, and passion into their presentations.

The games ended with scavenger hunt and presentation awards, as well as handing out a specially designed 65th anniversary company t-shirt and water bottle featuring the new core values.


Holmes Encourages Learning with Employee Scholarship Program

As Holmes Custom celebrates our 65th anniversary and how much we’ve grown, we know that our talented team of employees, or ‘Holmies’, as we’re known, are the key to our success! While some of us have been here since the beginning and many of us are just getting started, Holmes Custom’s goal is to invest in our team by making ours one of the best companies to work for our employees and the communities we live in!

This May, we’re proud to offer the first annual Holmes Custom scholarship to a deserving employee who’s passionate about hitting the books for professional growth! Whether it’s going back to school at a local university or working toward certification in a technical field, we want to help our Holmies reach their educational goals. Each year we’ll award $2,500 to one of our resident scholars.

This month, Holmies from across the country convened to take part in our day of Culture Olympics. Our second annual event – and quickly becoming a favorite! – welcomed all employees as we came together as a team to celebrate how far we’ve come and share our excitement for a future focused on continued growth. Through a mix of fantastic food, exciting team building events, and shared values, memories, and inspiration from all of our participants, Holmes Custom’s 2019 Culture Olympics made us all feel like gold medal winners!

We’re also quite proud of our Holmes Cares program, centered on the mission of engaging our employees in active volunteer service focused on giving back to our local communities. From blood drives to Best Buddies Friendship Walks to product donation allowances for charitable contributions offered to every employee, Holmies love to give back.  And spreading our wings just a bit further, there’s never a shortage of volunteers ready to travel with our owner, Bryan Croft, on our annual Haiti180 mission trip. We’re dedicated to making a positive impact where it matters most.

Launched last year, our Healthy Holmies Wellness Program is designed to provide all our employees with the tools and encouragement to reach our personal fitness and wellness goals and live our most healthful lives. Chosen by employees, our wellness program focuses on stress management, fitness and exercise, nutrition, weight loss, and financial wellness.

Our ‘Holmie Nation’ that has evolved over the past 65 years has become a terrific environment for employees to work, play, and grow together – and this is just the beginning!

Holmes Custom Teams Up with No More Homeless Pets

Here at Holmes Custom, we are all about our pets. If you’re like we are, you know that nothing is better than coming home to a warm greeting from your favorite furry friend. Many of us have dogs or cats at home, so we have compassion for the thousands of animals that are still waiting to be adopted. Our Holmies recently rolled up their sleeves and went to work helping local pets find new homes.

On February 16th we teamed up with First Coast No More Homeless Pets, a Jacksonville organization that works tirelessly to get animals off the streets and out of shelters.

If you aren’t familiar with First Coast No More Homeless Pets, they are a non-profit organization whose mission is to end euthanizing of shelter animals. While their goal is specific, this issue is prevalent. According to the ASPCA in the United States alone, 6.5 million animals enter shelters each year, with that approximately 1.5 million of these pets end up economically euthanized.1

So, what does FCNMHP do to put a stop to this? Their primary function is veterinary services. They offer high quality/low-cost vet services so everyone can afford to adopt and maintain their pet’s health. They also use these services for stray animals. As part of their feral freedom program, they implemented a trap-neuter-return strategy. With this program, they capture, sterilize, and release cats back into their native territory. Stopping the overpopulation in and out of shelters will hopefully end the cycle that stray animals undergo.

Another fantastic element of this organization includes its hosted events. The most important event they host is their Mega Pet Adoption. This gathering includes shelters from all over the state, who bring their adoptable pets with the goal of finding them a forever home. Some of these adoption events have resulted in every pet going to a new home! With adoption events occurring a few times a year and their veterinary efforts in motion, FCNMHP has saved approximately 30,000 cats alone.

After hearing about First Coast No More Homeless Pets’ mission we couldn’t wait to get involved. On a warm Saturday morning in February, some of our most devoted Holmies headed to their headquarters. With the next Mega Pet Adoption soon approaching, several Holmies tended to essential tasks around the FCNMHP facilities. A few team members started working on laundry. They needed clean towels and blankets for the animals after their surgeries.

Other team members worked outside, mowing the lawn, raking the leaves and removing pet waste. That’s what it takes to care for so many animals! Cleaning out pet crates proved to be the most intensive task.

Not only did Holmies clean and sanitize the crates, but they also power washed them, dried them and cleared away leaves and debris. This involved FIVE pallets full of crates!

While helping FCNMHP turned out to be quite the workout, we couldn’t have asked for a more rewarding experience. The knowledge that we were helping animals find new homes made the hard work well worth the effort!

Holmes Custom strives to stay involved in the Jacksonville community, offering free assistance to businesses and non-profit organizations such as No More Homeless Pets.

Even though we had a fantastic opportunity to help this inspiring organization, they could always use more help. While our holmies hope to be back soon, in the meantime you should get your friends and family together to volunteer! From their hospital, pet food bank, and adoption events there’s a place for everyone to lend a hand. By visiting their  Volunteer Sign-Up page, you will be one step closer to helping a shelter animal find its forever family. Until next time you can keep up with us and our work in the community by following Holmes Custom on social media and using the hashtag #HolmesCares.



  1. https://www.aspca.org/animal-homelessness/shelter-intake-and-surrender/pet-statistics

Holmes Custom Celebrates 65 Years!

Who We Are

The Holmes Custom family, or ‘Holmie Nation’ as we like to say, is made up of a talented team of more than 100 employees who are the best in the business! Because of our passion for creating the highest quality products along with unparalleled customer service, our brand has grown to include seven specialty websites offering a variety of personalized products: Name Tag Wizard, Simply Stamps, Custom Signs, Promo180, 904 Custom, All State Notary Supplies, and The Corporate Connection. Whether you’re looking for professional trade show banners, personalized baby gifts, or anything in between, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for with the Holmes family of brands.

Under the leadership of our owners Bryan Croft and Steve Fernandez, our company has transformed from a brick and mortar storefront to an online marketplace, where 95 percent of our sales are conducted via the internet. What an evolution!

Where We Came From

Our journey started in 1954, when founder Owen Holmes opened a rubber stamp business in a small rented storefront in Jacksonville, Florida. Although we’ve moved a few times since then, and have opened regional offices in Massachusetts and Texas, our core philosophy has stayed the same. According to Bryan, “Mr. Holmes really set a foundation of hard work and innovation that we are still inspired by today, creating and building for our families and the communities we serve.”

Taking over for his father in 1985, Owen Holmes, Jr. partnered with Bob Croft (above) and continued to grow the company until 2009, when current owners Bryan and Steve took the helm and continued to develop this third-generation company into the e-commerce business we are today.

Holmies Make It Happen!

As we celebrate our 65th anniversary and how much we’ve grown over the years, we know that our team of dedicated employees, or ‘holmies’, as we’re known, are the key to our success. Some of us have been here since the beginning, sharing our wealth of knowledge and experience with the newest members of our Holmes Custom team!

What We’ve Become

Throughout the years, our vision and core philosophy have remained the same. We have an unwavering passion for innovative products made in America with the highest levels of quality workmanship, perfectly personalized for our valued customers. Our products are never mass produced. Rather, they are custom made to order in our state-of-the-art production facilities just for you.

Our ‘Holmie Nation’ also is dedicated to giving back to our communities. Whether we’re participating in quarterly blood drives, hosting donation drives to support our troops, collecting toys for local children during the holidays, or volunteering for our annual Haiti180 mission trip led by our owner Bryan Croft, we’re dedicated to making a positive difference where it matters most.

Here’s to the next 65 years!


Our 2018 Mission Trip to Haiti

When a friend invited Bryan on a mission trip to Haiti a few years back, he didn’t realize just how much it would change his perspective on life. The same can be said about every other missionary that traveled to the third world country in early November. For a few, it was their first trip there, and for the others, they return year after year to help the beautiful people of Haiti.

Haiti180 is the incredible organization that makes these mission trips possible. Founded in 2002, it’s mission is to “turn it around”. Since its inception, Haiti180 has established an orphanage with a church, a school, an elderly home, and a medical clinic, all near the village of Miragoane . While there is still a long way for Haiti180 to go, the impact this organization has had is tremendous.  

Katie, a 31-year-old missionary, is the orphanage director. She is also a cancer survivor and a modern day Mother Theresa. She left Ohio to live in Haiti and run the Catholic orphanage more than 7 years ago. During our week-long stay, she led us to individual huts to spend time with families in need.  Katie showed us how to serve the Haitian people through relationship. She does this by learning about the lives of the people in the village around her, identifying specific needs, and personally bringing goods and spending time together. We brought medicine, toothbrushes, diapers, clothing, food, vitamins and even candy right into each hut. We learned about every person we brought supplies to and Deacon, one member of our group, prayed for each.

Most of the stories we heard about their lives were heartbreaking and unimaginable. We heard about a family of nine living in a tiny hut who struggled to have enough to eat and slept on straw mats on the ground. We stepped into their lives for a moment to treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve. We visited an elderly woman, named Vanaella, who spent the last 3 years in her hut, unable to move herself or even turn over. There were 4 generations all sharing a tiny space and an outdoor kitchen area. We brought them food and Vanaella had a message for us. She said, “Every morning, if you wake up, thank God that you are alive. And then at night thank Him again for all the things that happened throughout the day.”

Every time we went on a hike to the huts, our group filled our backpacks and bags to the brim with candy, Cliff bars, dolls and the essentials Katie knew the village’s families were in need of. The moment we walked out of the orphanage gate, flocks of kids would gather around us. They would grab our hands and walk with us for miles, smiling from ear to ear. I don’t know whose smiles were bigger, the children or the missionaries.

The Texas, Massachusetts, and Florida Trio of 14 Missionaries trekked all around rural parts of Haiti. Joe drove us over mountains, into rivers and through the mud to bring us to the orphanage. During our time there, we also worked to complete various manual labor tasks. We shoveled dirt and rocks which will be used to make cement for two projects. These projects are adding a separate boys house to the orphanage and building onto the senior living home. We painted parts of the orphanage to help prevent rust. It took high ladders, reaching long arms and balancing to get the edges of the second floor and roof. We painted the Cantor (missionary bus) which involved hovering around the roof to paint the top and climbing ladders to touch up the window grids.

We toured all the facilities Haiti180 built from the ground up, including the school where we taught the kids how to play basketball. Katie translated the rules from English to Creole and we played a 5-on-5 game with the students in some serious morning heat. We also passed out school supplies that had been donated, and the way the students’ faces lit up over something as simple as a notebook, pens and pencils was heartwarming. During our trip, we were able to spend time with the kids at the orphanage, from playing soccer, dancing on the kitchen steps and getting braids, to attending mass and being a part of their service through Bible readings.

There were many moments during this trip to Haiti that will stay with us all for years to come, but one stands out in particularly – our visit with John Simon, a man paralyzed from the neck down. Because he spends every day lying in bed and how long he had been neglected when Katie first met him, he’s now in need of daily treatment. So on day two we all went to visit and care for him.

Aimee, Sarah, Jesse, Karen, and Anna worked with Katie to address some of John Simon’s immediate medical needs by treating bedsores, cleaning excrement, and redressing wounds. They bent over his bed to complete this slow process and offer this man what help they could. When Katie first met John Simon, he was depressed and living a very lonely life, and while he’s still confined to his small hut in the middle of the village, he’s in much better physical and mental shape then he was a few years ago. He now has daily visitors to care for him and brighten his day.

It’s often hard to put into words an experience like the one we all shared in Haiti, but each and every missionary would agree it’s life changing. When you have the opportunity to witness such a beautiful country, filled with such loving and welcoming people, but who are struggling so deeply, you can’t help but to want to return each year to make whatever impact you’re able to.  

Tech Tips from 9 Industry Leaders in Jax

Jacksonville was recently ranked No.10 for local business population growth, according to Yelp’s Q2 2018 Economic Outlook Report. We turned to market leaders in Jacksonville to learn how their businesses are using ecommerce to grow.

Nine experts in finance, technology, law, strategic communications and other industries are letting us in on their behind-the-screens contributions to internet marketing.

Read exclusive insights from top Jacksonville industry experts who know what it takes to build a business in the bold city. Both established companies and startups can use these insights to stay competitive and help establish Jacksonville as a tech hub:

Jason Mudd, Managing Partner at Axia

‘You have to keep up with your audiences and know the new technology they’re using. Adopt those platforms early and capture new members before the competition arrives.’

In our company’s 17 year history, we’ve often hired military spouses who join our team in military cities like Jacksonville and eventually transition to working for us remotely and from other cities. It’s also our way of supporting our service men and women. At the same time, this employment strategy  builds the Jacksonville brand as a great place for employment of the creative class.

To keep up with advances in technology and enhance the profession, every quarter each employee pursues an additional certification in a trending area of measurement and technology for strategic communications and marketing.

Brian Swallow, SVP, Strategy & Partnership Development at Fanatics

‘Culture is galvanized in the early stages of business, for good or bad.  Don’t let the soft issues get lost in your efforts to grow the company. At the end of the day, your people are driving the business.’ 

Find the right partners and negotiate everything, whether with vendors or business partners. If their values and services match up with your own, use long-term commitments to lock-in favorable business terms.  Capital is scarce at this stage; manage it aggressively. Leverage acquisition-based marketing. Eliminate front-end risk when possible by paying only for performance.

Offer only differentiated services or unique products and surround yourself with innovators. Work with people who don’t just perform tasks, but who find better ways of doing things.  You can never have too many ideas.

Kelly Dyer, CEO at Inventory Source

‘Stay lean, test new SKUs first, and be agile, then automate and integrate. Sell on every channel and from every source that has profitable returns and constantly iterate.’

Inventory Source provides automation tools and dropship fulfillment options for online retailers, along with software for distributors and brands.  We automate and simplify the challenge of selling your own products, leveraging third party fulfillment, and working with drop ship partners to allow retailers to sell thousands of SKUs across dozens of channels in a fully automated way.  We see lots of ways that retailers achieve success, and the ability to be flexible with your integrations and fulfillment partners is a big part of that.

My advice for ecommerce businesses is to follow the lean approach just like a startup would. Start small, with a limited number of SKUs, and experiment with both fulfillment sources and channels.

Mark McCrary, Senior Account Manager at Presidio

‘Unless you are a technologically sophisticated company, leveraging an outsourced processing company can put the onus and risk squarely on their shoulders versus yours.’

Getting into the world of commerce can be tough going at first. You’re bound to get some bumps and bruises along the way. There are compliance things to consider like PCI (Payment Card Industry) security standards. These standards are put in place to help protect you and your client from risk of getting their credit card information stolen. If it gets out that your client’s information isn’t secure when they do business with you, it can be tough going to keep them as a customer. Obviously on their side, dealing with credit monitoring and auto denials as they legitimately apply for credit or attempt to use their cards can be problematic.

PCI compliance basically ensure that the information that stores and credit card info for your clients is secure on your side as well as any transmission of their credit card information. This can best be done by leveraging an outsourced service for handling credit cards whether it be kiosks, credit card machines or card processing software.

Alan Ferguson, Chief Underwriting Officer at US Assure

‘Think about what sets you apart, how consumers will find you online and what type of experience you want them to have on your website.’

A great, mobile responsive website that takes all the search engine optimization techniques into account is important! You need consumers to find you when they’re online searching. There’s nothing more frustrating than a business who doesn’t provide the consumer with a contact method or buries it in FAQs. Because the world of digital is constantly evolving, we collaborate with experts in the space to review emerging trends and then determine if they are a good fit for our products.

Ultimately, when we decide to try a new tactic, we test, monitor and optimize based on engagement and conversions.

Jim Satterwhite, CEO at Venture Pointe

‘Through educational forums, ensuring our clients are receiving regular information on how to better their data management, and through constant network monitoring, the battle to protect your business’ data should never stop evolving.’

Venture Pointe, as a Managed Service Provider in the Jacksonville market, is continually trying to educate our clients on the importance of network security. The one thing that is always true; the pitfalls of data exposure are consistent. Most businesses fail to recognize “where” they have exposure, usually in simple circumstances, such as employees sending emails to themselves pertaining to work related items.

Constant education and network management is genuinely at the core of what we do every day.

Harold Boyett, President & CEO at Blue Streak Couriers

‘Every interaction we have seeks to gain a five star review of the customer’s experience. In today’s digital age, we are perceived to be only as good as our last delivery.’ 

Harold BoyettThink about what you want as your result, for your ecommerce platform, and then work backwards to develop your plan. Search Engine Optimization should play a major role in your plan. We work in the final mile segment of ecommerce.  As a result, many companies use Blue Streak to complete their final mile delivery.  We are the Ambassadors of Service for our customers with their clientele. The customer experience, in today’s day of social media and online reputation, is first and foremost on everyone’s mind.

Lee Lockett, Managing Partner at Lockett Law

‘There are two types of businesses that need a heavy presence in digital marketing: Those that are, and those that need to be.’ 

Try and be as active with posting as possible on our business Facebook page and Instagram. We utilize LinkedIn as well. Pay-Per-Click will be launching soon. Never try Search Engine Optimization  (SEO) on your own. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is complicated enough for laypersons such as myself, but trying to conduct SEO on your own is akin to attempting to remove your own spleen.

Bryan Croft, CEO, Holmes Custom

Start small – the first order is often the hardest to get.  Focus on the customer and what they need the most!

It’s the #1 agenda of our marketing team to keep up with the latest trends.  We use a wide range of tools to help clear through the clutter of “digital marketing.” Some of those tools include blogs, podcasts, email updates from industry leaders, tradeshows, seminars, webinars, and LOTS of tools to stay updated and ultimately ahead of digital marketing trends. I was born and raised in Jax (Bishop Kenny, UNF!)  and will always have a huge sense of pride for Jax. I feel it’s my duty to create jobs as a business owner today.

It’s no secret that technology jobs are typically high pay, innovative, and creative. This inspires me to build that within our company and have the most talented driven people in our city to make our world a better place!

Action Items for Jacksonville Businesses

To help your business stay competitive in this swiftly changing digital landscape, consider these action items from the above leaders.

You can keep up with digital trends when you:

  • Consult with experts, from SEO specialists to processing companies, to ensure site efficacy
  • Identify your target market and increase engagement
  • Stay active on multiple digital platforms
  • Make sure your employees continually increase their technical knowledge

You can navigate ecommerce better when you:

  • Protect initial resources, from vendor relationships to capital management
  • Make sure consumers can find you online, contact your business and leave reviews
  • Make sure products and services are unique and that they add value
  • Protect your clients’ information

You can be a part of local growth in your tech community when you:

  • Invest in your employees and company culture
  • Utilize proximal space and local resources
  • Build relationships that make you an active contributor to your local community

The Next 15 Years

Holmes Custom is passionate about helping Jacksonville become a tech hub. With an increasing number of tech savvy businesses developing, more resources are put into the local economy. This creates a healthy and growing job market. The digital marketing capacity of Jacksonville grows with each step that local businesses take.

Staying competitive in technology is demanding, but you can be one step ahead when you turn to market leaders in your community. These people – even those involved in different industries, working with different sizes of businesses – are part of the same effort to stay relevant as the internet and mobile search continue to evolve.

In 2016, Forbes reported that Jacksonville had seen a strong growth of over 80 percent in tech jobs since 2001. What will the next 15 years hold?