When it comes to creating a new technology environment, deciding between building your own or taking the “best of breed” approach is a critical step. While there are benefits to both approaches, Axonet was developed using the latter to ensure its ecosystem offers the most secure, flexible, and high-quality technology in the retail media space to the C-store industry. Here we summarize an interview with Kevin Struthers, Axonet Co-founder and CPO, on why Axonet built a “Best of Breed” partner ecosystem.


What is Axonet’s “Best-of-Breed” Partner Ecosystem?

A “best-of-breed” partner ecosystem brings together leading technology solution providers in a niche or specific industry as key pieces in creating one integrated solution or tech stack. Axonet provides value through our Audience (where advertisers gain access to purchase behavior segmentation) and Activate (where advertisers manage ad investments off-site, on-premise, and in-app) products. This ecosystem requires data privacy controls, omnichannel consumer touchpoints, campaign management/reporting, and derived consumer value. In determining which solutions to bring into our partner ecosystem, we completed careful research and evaluation to ensure we selected best-in-class providers to be our partners and help deliver on the Axonet promise to our clients.

For data privacy controls, we needed a Data Clean Room provider. We determined Habu, a leader in the 2023-2024 IDC MarketScape for Data Clean Room Technology for Advertising and Marketing, was our best option because their platform can securely surface actionable insights from data wherever it lives with its leading cloud and API interoperability. Habu’s interoperability partnerships include AWS, Azure, Databricks, Google Cloud Platform, and Snowflake.

We chose Zitcha to power our campaign management portal. It is integrated with an impressive number of media platforms, enabling Axonet to provide brands with a “single pane of glass” interface across multiple channels. We selected Qsic for in-store audio engagement because its emerging AI capabilities ensure the audio ads are heard in the dynamic C-store environment, and brands can create, localize, and test content at an unprecedented pace.

In addition to the core partners mentioned above, we work with several loyalty platform providers servicing the C-store community on the derived customer value front to introduce offers, promotions, and rebates to consumers based on their historical purchase patterns. One of our soon-to-be partners (stay tuned for an announcement coming soon) has a long history with CPG brands looking to increase sell-through and drive product launches and trials via coupon and rebate programs. These partnerships will surely improve shopper experiences and save them money.


Why not build and deliver everything from within Axonet?

Our decision to partner versus build involved several factors, including cost, time, and domain knowledge. Due to the pace at which retail verticals are blurring (i.e., get a Starbucks coffee with your BOPIS order at Target), we needed to execute as quickly as possible to provide similar outcomes as consumers continue to transfer expectations from their other shopping experiences to C-stores. Leaning on deep knowledge of the focused expertise of our partners for each of their respective arenas allows Axonet to exercise our strengths in strategy, data, digital, and services (thanks in part to our parent company’s [W. Capra] 23 years of convenience and energy retail consulting experience).


How do you determine which technology partners are best-of-breed?

We evaluate our partners on specific criteria, including [1] company values, [2] technology alignment, [3] implementation requirements, and [4] overall product strategy.

  • Company Values: We look for shared values of consumer privacy, technical innovation, value delivery, and customer service.
  • Technology: We look for industry-leading innovations delivered with resilient, composable architectures that scale to ensure the required performance is always available.
  • Implementation: We designed Axonet to be versatile and agnostic to retailer technology stacks. As such, we look for partners with flexible configurations and technology stacks with interoperability capabilities.
  • Product: Partner solutions must offer capabilities that can rapidly evolve and innovate to keep pace with consumers’, brands’, and retailers’ evolving needs.


How do Retailers, CPG brands, and consumers benefit from best-of-breed partner ecosystems?

Axonet’s established partnerships (and those to come) save our clients time, resources, and money.  We maintain a keen focus on each of our client stakeholder groups (retailers, CPG brands, and consumers) and their unique needs:

  • Retailers—Comprehensive technology and services centered on data privacy, omnichannel campaign management, and ad inventory performance.
  • CPG Brands—Overcome system fragmentation across the C-store retailer landscape and keep up with expected RMN capabilities.
  • Consumers—Expose valuable content (coupons, rebates, promotions, etc.) to shoppers where they are throughout their shopper journey (social media, open web, at the pump, in the store, and within retailer loyalty programs) to aid in digital engagement and product discovery during critical shopping moments.


To learn more about Axonet’s “best-of-breed” retail media network and how our partners help deliver on the promises of the Audience and Activate solutions, reach out to Kevin Struthers, Co-Founder & CPO at Axonet, at info@axonet.io.