Digital Grocery Pioneer Robert Hemphill Retires After 25 Years as Webstop President

From the early days of the internet to today, Robert Hemphill revolutionized the digital grocery landscape.

Webstop has announced today that Robert Hemphill, the firm’s President and founder, is formally retiring. Greg Hemphill, President; Brian Hemphill, COO; and Shawn Tuckett, CEO will assume Hemphill’s responsibilities upon his retirement. 

Robert has served in his current role as President of Webstop for 25 years, where he oversaw operations, partnerships, and the many digital innovations that Webstop introduced to the grocery industry. 

His early career path uniquely situated Hemphill for success with Webstop. In his roles as VP of Management Information Systems at American Superstores, and VP of Electronic Services at Randall’s Food Markets, Hemphill gained over a decade of experience working with major regional supermarket chains. His time as VP of Systems and Retail Technology at Catalina Marketing provided him with a unique perspective on the necessity of digital marketing for retailers. 

These experiences culminated with the creation of Webstop in 1996. “I wanted to build a lasting company, and was energized enough to continue at the helm,” Hemphill said. “I found a niche where my various skills could be used in a successful venture.”

Over the years, Robert spearheaded a variety of grocery websites, digital circulars, email, and digital coupon initiatives that changed the way grocers advertise to and engage with their shoppers. His relentless commitment to detail and focus on user-friendly integration has allowed independent retailers to stay competitive in a changing market. 

“Through it all, we have stayed committed to being an agile business that has worked to close the gaps between independent retailers and major chains,” Hemphill said. 

Many attribute Webstop’s success under Hemphill to his “people first” approach to business— internally and with corporate partners. Marti Hitchings, Marketing Operations Manager at Spartan Nash said, “Throughout the years that I’ve worked with Robert, I’ve been impressed with his commitment to the Independent Retailer. He built a strong family business dedicated to serving other family businesses. Webstop has made website technology accessible and affordable for retailers of all sizes. I wish Robert all the best in his retirement!”

Hemphill’s investments in relationships have been coupled with a passion for innovation that has allowed Webstop to continuously adjust to the ever-changing digital grocery landscape. 

“Our focus is on digital marketing software as a service. It requires a strong foundation in tech, design, layout skills, marketing, and digital savvy— which our team does very well,” Hemphill said. “I’m proud to say that we’ve been in place longer than any of our direct competition, building flexible services that are still highly regarded.” 

This flexibility has led to client partnerships that span multiple decades and stretch beyond the independent sector. Terry Kushner, former Director of Interactive Marketing and Consumer Insights at Tops Friendly Markets, benefitted from Hemphill’s reliability as a digital marketing partner: “Over the years, our business grew exponentially. Concurrently, the digital landscape was rapidly evolving.  Aligning ourselves with Robert and his capable and dedicated Webstop team enabled us to successfully address the daunting challenges these changes presented. With Robert’s support and leadership, our teams learned from and challenged each other, enabling us to establish a cutting-edge website and social media presence.”

Kevin Coupe, Founder of grocery retailer news outlet Morning News Beat, said, “The level of customer service that Webstop offered to me was reflective of the degree to which the company— and the wonderful people who work there— have served not just as a service provider to their retail clients, but as a partner, deeply invested in these companies’ success. This is, I feel certain, because of Robert’s core values as a person and as a business leader. I feel equally certain that as [Morning News Beat] enjoys its 20th year in business, I never would’ve made it, much less enjoyed the success we’ve had if not for Robert Hemphill.”

While Greg Hemphill, Brian Hemphill and Shawn Tuckett now lead Webstop, the company remains poised to offer exceptional services to grocery retailers nationwide. 

Greg Hemphill, President/CTO, Robert Hemphill, Retiring President, Karen Hemphill, Vice President Human Resources, Shawn Tuckett, CEO, Brian Hemphill, COO

“Robert led with his heart and blazed a trail that has revolutionized an industry. His focus on innovation was coupled with a deep care for his staff and clients. His legacy is much more than the features he pioneered, it’s rooted in the relationships he made and the people he impacted.  We are excited for the next chapter in Webstop’s story and will stay committed to the ideals Robert established in his leadership of Webstop,” Tuckett said. 

Reflecting on his career, Hemphill expressed gratitude for the team and clients who joined him to make Webstop a successful venture over the last 25 years: “I’ve been lucky to learn from a lot of really brilliant and hardworking people,” he said. “I’ve had a great life working in this industry, and I’m grateful.” 

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