As part of Cenports’ mission to support up-and-coming eCommerce brands, we’re putting a spotlight on the founders looking to drive the industry forward. First in the series: our own founder, Derrick Chen.
What was your motivation for starting Cenports?
When I started my first eCommerce company, it took a ton of resources to build retail channels and relationships that made the process work. Software to automate inventory and order management wasn’t affordable for small companies, and for fulfillment, we had to rent an expensive warehouse and commit to minimum two years. I learned first-hand about the high barrier of entry for small eCommerce companies.
One day, one of my friends asked me about selling kitchen sinks and using our warehouse and our network of retailers. I said, sure, bring in your products, and within a month we were selling and generating profit. All of a sudden, he had turnkey solutions and a relationship with 60 retailers without hiring staff or putting in any extra hours. And it clicked: we can do the same thing for any company trying to really get off the ground. So we built the software and infrastructure and spun off a new company.
It used to be that new companies or even small, local companies didn’t have the resources to compete; I started Cenports to change that dynamic. Now the emphasis is on the product, not the resources. If the product is good enough, the company can compete. We do a lot to support that – we’ll make product recommendations, help clients identify new markets and customers, give them the software to manage inventory and order systems in a fraction of the time, etc.
It all adds up to the company mission: helping entrepreneurs realize their goals of selling their products.
How would you describe the culture you’re building at Cenports?
Above all, have fun and like what you do. A big part of that is feeling pride and accomplishment in helping our customers achieve success. Another important element of our culture is transparency; we’re building trust with customers, employees, and partners. Everything from our pricing to our customer service to our reports and dashboards is designed to be clear and transparent, which I believe is how you build valuable business relationships.
In 10 years, what do you want Cenports to become?
I’d like Cenports to be the go-to platform that enables anyone to sell and ship their products from anywhere, to anywhere, partnering with every retailer out there. We’ll also be a trusted source for buyers like Wayfair, Home Depot, etc.; we verify all the products our vendors sell online. Basically, Cenports will be a two-way highway for eCommerce success that connects quality companies looking to buy or sell products.
What would you like companies to know about who you are as a business partner?
Beyond being someone you can trust, I pride myself on the service I provide to my customers and my awesome team. My biggest responsibility is to get things done and solve challenges for clients and employees, to be resourceful and come up with ways to make things work better for everyone. If you work with me, I’ll take care of you.
How do you see the eCommerce industry evolving over the next 5 years?
The eCommerce pie is big and getting bigger, and I think elements of it are really going to change the nature of brick-and-mortar stores. You’re starting to see online-first companies like Warby Parker and Allbirds build brick-and-mortar presences, and I think the trend will go the other way as well. Brick-and-mortar stores will get a lot better at fulfillment and using tech to sell their products and will be able to keep stock very low. If customers don’t get something straight from the shelves, they’ll be able to get it shipped to them within a day or two.
Not every company will use Cenports, of course, but I believe we’ll impact them by raising the bar for fulfillment and sales enablement across the industry.