News Column

Internet-Based Office Supply Store Begins Business

July 3, 2014

By Christopher Brewer, The Chronicle, Centralia, Wash.

July 03--The convenience of shopping on the Internet carries an appeal to an ever-increasing number of people, and one local company is working to capitalize on that trend.

Market Street Ace Hardware General Manager Jeremy Scott and business to business specialist Jeff McDaniel have teamed up to offer Market Street Office Supplies, an online-only counterpart to the physical store's hardware offerings. The business is separate from the Ace Hardware name but falls under the same umbrella with local ownership through Lincoln Creek Lumber.

McDaniel said the idea was birthed when he came to Scott to find more work, and began researching an office supply catalog. Eight months later, is live 24/7 and allows customers to order more than 40,000 separate products.

"It's really a business within a business," McDaniel said. "We're building it to really help us grow."

McDaniel and Scott said their primary focus is customers in and around Lewis County, with a goal of getting orders from checkout to doorstep within a business day. Market Street Office Supplies will get its shipments from a warehouse in Portland, with backup options in Seattle or Sacramento, making that goal a reality.

The shipments will arrive at the Ace Hardware location at 771 S. Market Blvd., and from there the company will deliver everything from pens to pushpins and Post-its, and even larger items from chairs to cabinets.

It's new territory, especially with McDaniel and Scott operating the company's physical office in a hardware store that doesn't have an online commerce counterpart. But the two believe a completely e-commerce solution for office supplies and a brick-and-mortar store for hardware can work hand in hand.

"We've built it to really cross-promote between the two," Scott said. "We have 65,000 hardware items in the store and another 40,000 office products online, so we can reach a lot of people."

The site for Market Street Office Supplies went live in the last week of June, and can be easily viewed on a variety of devices from desktop computers to smartphones and other mobile devices. McDaniel said the focus for now is just to get established in Lewis County, with a later goal of becoming a retailer that could effectively reach the entire United States.

"We want to really put an emphasis on local right now," McDaniel said.

Building an e-commerce website can be a daunting task, and McDaniel and Scott both said they have spent nearly eight months making it happen. Not only did the framework of the website have to be stable, but McDaniel said putting products into easy-to-find categories made for a time-consuming yet worthwhile process.

The emphasis on Internet commerce for Market Street Office Supplies signifies a shift in philosophy for two people who work constantly in a physical store setting.

"We're trying to look toward, for example, 2018 instead of 2014," McDaniel said. "It's built to grow with the times."

Christopher Brewer: (360) 807-8235


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Source: Chronicle, The (Centralia, WA)

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