Nearshore Americas
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The Surprising Reason Why Retailer Express Opened an IT Operation in Costa Rica

Costa Rica added another name in the growing list of US companies who have chosen the Central American country as its home for Nearshore tech and business operations. The motivation to chose Costa Rica is not typical however. 

Fashion clothing company Express announced its arrival to Costa Rica, where it will operate a center for the delivery of software services, such as quality assurance, database management, app and mobile development.

Express will land in Costa Rica’s Ultrapark, a “center for the export of high added-value services” located just outside the city of Heredia and less than a 30-minute drive from the country’s capital, San José. From there, its Nearshore team will work as an “extension of the technology team that works in the United States”, as stated by the company itself, to  “provide support to all regions and countries where Express does business.”

With offices in place, the clothing company is already working on building its Costa Rican tech team. The  task could prove difficult in a tightening job market, where software engineers and developers are in high demand, with companies growing more aggressive when gunning for their services.

Express’ employment adds underscore the growing appetite for tech talent, but they also provide a look into what US clients are looking for when building a Nearshore tech team.

Cybersecurity Compliance in Costa Rica

Cybersecurity compliance is literally at the top of Express’ vacancies for its operations in Costa Rica. The company is advertising to hire an Associate Cybersecurity Analyst which would be “a key member of our Governance Risk and Compliance team, helping ensure our adherence to various legal and privacy regulations.” Rarely in the expansion of internal Nearshore IT operations have we seen compliance rise to the top of location requirements. 

Prospects are expected to be well versed in matters of data privacy and compilation, governance and the management of Data Subject Access Requests (DSAR), skills that underscore the growing importance of properly managing consumer data, as well as compliance with both national and international regulations for data safeguarding.

Cybersecurity has become a particularly important subject for Costa Rica over the past months. Its federal government suffered a major ransomware attack that froze the operations of several institutions, including its Finance Ministry, and exposed the information of both individual tax payers and companies

Compliance with tech regulations –including cybersecurity, privacy and data protection– is expected to grow even further as tech services become more popular and government officials come to grips with the havoc that cyberattacks and data breaches can cause. Considering that Express’ client base is global, with much of it in the US, it’s no surprise that the company would want to be as shielded as possible in matters of tech compliance.

The apparel and fashion industries are no strangers to hacker attacks. Just last year, fashion brands Next Level Apparel, Aditya Birla and Guess informed about data breaches in their systems. Such incidents can be costly. IBM’s latest Cost of Data Breach report estimates the global average cost of breaches at US$4.35 million, a 13% increase compared with 2020 and an all-time high. 

Data Management

Data is everything now, especially for retailers like Express, which offers its products through a variety of channels, both physical and digital. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that the company is headhunting for a Data Engineer for its operations in Costa Rica.

“The Data Engineer will work on developing exciting solutions on a day-to-day basis. Through developing these solutions, you will help drive foundational transformation in the Enterprise Data organization,” reads the ad for the job. 

“We trust our Columbus and Costa Rica teams will work well together and contribute to the innovation and technological growth of our company” Greg Fancher, CTO at Express

With the growth of e-commerce world wide, companies big and small have come to understand the usefulness of data. Anything that is collected can be put to use, in some way, by the company to improve sales, business operations, etc. 

Express also expects their data engineers to be governance-compliant. The company collects a wide array of consumer data from their physical and digital stores. This can include, according to their privacy policy: name, signature, age, gender, marital status, social security number, purchase history, physical location and movements, etc., which makes the protection of their data banks a crucial matter.

Software, Mobile, Apps 

Express is gathering a small army of developers for its Costa Rican operations. The vast majority of the company’s job advertisements focus on engineers with mobile and software development skills, as well as QA analysis.

“This team will develop iOS and Android mobile applications, perform QA (quality assurance) work, and provide general support through technology department solutions”, said the apparel firm in its press release.

Express will probably have to open its wallet wide to fill these vacancies, though. The tech talent crisis is still going strong, and it might grow even stronger by next year. Companies –local and foreign– are fighting tooth and nail to catch the best tech talent available in a context of growing demand. With the economic horizon turning darker in the US, Nearshore operations are becoming a more attractive option for American firms in need of cost-cutting and continuity of business operations. 

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Costa Rica’s star as a Nearshore location for the delivery of tech services keeps rising. Express’ Chief Technology Officer, Greg Fancher, described the country as having the “right combination of high quality talent, a collaborative culture and easy travel to our headquarters in Columbus, Ohio”.

“We trust our Columbus and Costa Rica teams will work well together and contribute to the innovation and technological growth of our company,” Fancher added.

Express expects to keep growing its operations in Costa Rica even further. It assured that, over the next three years, it will hire additional employees in its Costa Rican offices, including Developers, Data Engineers, Data Administrators and other tech professionals. 

Cesar Cantu

Cesar is the Managing Editor of Nearshore Americas. He's a journalist based in Mexico City, with experience covering foreign trade policy, agribusiness and the food industry in Mexico and Latin America.

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