Why Partnerships Are Key to the Future of Local

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SW_20131025_NY_6252_lowresThe future of local lies in partnerships. That was the topic of a wide-ranging discussion between Ohad Tzur, North America Lead for Google’s Wildfire partnership program, Delivery.com CEO Jed Kleckner, and Leaf CEO Aron Schwarzkopf, during a panel at Street Fight Summit on Friday morning.

“At the end of the day, our business is being a commerce platform and we’re collecting a tremendous amount of data about what people do, where they do it, and when they do it. We have an obligation to the merchant to make sure that they get smarter about how they compete,” Kleckner said. “We do one thing well, but we want to find ways to do other things alongside it well and we have to find partners to do that. Do we give up something by forming partnerships? No, I think exactly the opposite. I think we are better serving the merchants.”

For Tzur, the advantage of partnerships comes down to data: “There is so much data that is lost in all the fragmentation. In order to get the full insights you have to have partners for different agencies talk to each other,” he said.

When Google looks for partners, the company focuses on three things: that the business puts customers first, that the business understands the online space its in, and that the business has a model that scales. The Internet giant also focuses on the strength of the prospective business’s relationships on the ground.

Schwarzkopf and Kleckner
Schwarzkopf and Kleckner

For big firms and startups alike, finding the right partners can be a difficult. Frequently, the correct play, says  Kleckner, is to join forces with a newer company rather than a more established one.

“The problem with the working with a legacy system is that integrating with something like Micros is not like integrating with one car. It’s more similar to integrating with a family of Toyota cars, said Kleckner. “It’s the Prius and the Land Cruiser, and the Land Cruiser comes in the 2007 standard edition and the deluxe edition and so on. You could spend basically your entire life and capital integrating with third-party systems.”

The panelists also discussed the move towards open systems. Kleckner admitted that open systems are almost essential for Delivery.com, especially when they want to move into industries beyond restaurants. New verticals will have so much inventory that it will be laborious for his staff to handle. Finding a system where that information already exists is essential.

“There are so many local businesses,” Schwarzkopf added. “Being open allows you to move faster.”

Noah Davis is a senior editor at Street Fight.

For more coverage of Street Fight Summit, click here…