A (Biased) Grocer’s Guide to Choosing a Digital Commerce Partner, or Why I Became CEO of Self Point


by Michael J. Haaf

Last fall, I was asked to join the board of a promising startup. Although I had never heard of the company, I was immediately impressed by the tech firm’s focus on helping grocery chains fight back against Amazon-Whole Foods, Walmart and other retailers entering the traditional grocery space with a wide assortment of digital solutions and offers.

As a grocer with more than 15 years in the business – first as SVP of sales, marketing and business strategy for Food Lion and then as EVP and GM at Lucky Supermarkets–I have been following the digital transformation of this industry for a while. So I jumped at the chance to join the board of a white-label e-commerce provider with some awesome clients both in the U.S. and in Israel, where the company was founded.

As I got to know the Self Point team and the industry better, I was astounded by all the different players in the space, their vastly different business models and, especially, their enormous differences in costs to the grocer. I decided that irrespective of my position with Self Point, there were probably many grocery executives out there struggling with similar questions. These include how do I know which partner is right for my business? How do I understand a landscape that runs the gamut from completely outsourced, turnkey solutions to seven-figure custom implementations?

So I embarked on some research, trying to understand all the different options, and in particular where did Self Point fit into the landscape? I hoped that my research would culminate in a Gartner-style white paper, complete with a “magic quadrant” that could not only highlight Self Point’s place in the industry but be a solid resource to grocers.

As I was doing my research, I found my perspective as a grocer benefiting Self Point’s business strategy and product road map. Self Point, like many startups, is composed mainly of technology veterans. I suddenly found myself in pitch meetings representing the company on multiple sides of the continent, talking about the operational implications of platform implementation and calculating the ROI of Self Point’s unique offering on white boards with several different prospects. By the time my fellow board members asked me to step into the role of CEO, I had concluded that Self Point does indeed occupy a magic quadrant in the market. They are an agile solution that offers a fantastic customer experience at a great value; who wouldn’t sign up for that combination?

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