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DALLAS — In any other year, the Convenience Store News Technology Implementation of the Year award would involve one special thing a retailer did to improve their business. This year’s winner, though, cannot be lauded for just one thing. 7-Eleven Inc. has had a banner year in terms of technology and is being honored for its multifaceted efforts.
“We are honored to receive this award,” said Steve Holland, senior vice president and chief information officer for 7-Eleven. “Joe [DePinto], our CEO, is very pleased as well. Thank you for the award.”
Most of the chain's multifaceted efforts involve 7-Eleven’s popular app. “We were very purposeful in our approach,” said Holland. “We saw the consumer changing and the marketplace changing even faster. We did a very thorough CSA [Current Situation Analysis] of where the consumer is at, where they are going, how they want to be connected and where they want to be connected. Our joint teams of Marketing, Innovation and IT led us to a mobile-first strategy.”
The 7-Eleven executive noted there has been an explosion in the usage of smartphones in the United States and Canada, which led the convenience store chain to ask how it could solve consumer problems. “The CSA led us to creation of our app, connecting with the app and learning more about the customer,” said Holland. “We’ve become much more relevant and can serve them more. This was clearly on our strategy map.”
The Dallas-based retailer has been quite pleased with its overall mobile efforts thus far. “7-Eleven is about being your convenient neighborhood store,” said Holland. “This convenience extends to the mobile device in your hand.”
Perhaps most notable among 7-Eleven’s mobile efforts was the c-store retailer’s launch of the 7Rewards loyalty program, which entitles customers to receive a free beverage for every six purchased. Having this program tied to the app is important, Holland relayed, because loyalty information updates in real time so customers don’t need to track anything on their end.
Other examples of 7-Eleven’s mobile first strategy include this year’s week-long birthday celebration; Sour Patch Kids Slurpee promotion; and All Access Chill, where registered 7-Eleven app users were eligible for a bevy of prizes, including a meet-and-greet with teen pop sensation Austin Mahone.
DELIVERING FOR CUSTOMERS
7-Eleven’s marketing and innovation platforms certainly don’t end with its mobile app, however. For example, the c-store operator, led by its Innovation area, teamed up with San Francisco-based Postmates to offer on-demand delivery via the Postmates iOS, Android or web app. This service allows 7-Eleven customers to receive an assortment of the retailer’s items — including hot foods, snacks and other convenience items — delivered in one hour or less.
After initially offering this service to the San Francisco and Austin, Texas, markets, 7-Eleven was so pleased with early results from the program that it added it to select stores in New York City, Philadelphia, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle. Going forward, 7-Eleven plans to offer this service in even more cities, revealed Holland.
Through its CSA findings, 7-Eleven noticed a shifting marketplace in which customers have less time to do things they desire, making delivery service so important.
“Customers are demanding more convenience because they are trying to fit in more during the time they have,” stated Holland. “That extends from businesspeople to mothers with kids and anyone else who wants to declutter their day.”
Looking at 7-Eleven’s future from a technological standpoint, the retailer expects to continue pushing forward with its mobile-first strategy, Holland said.
“We are delighted and pleased with the direction in which we are going and will continue to invest in it,” he said. “At the end of the day, we have to solve more consumer problems through the uses of our app and technology.”
Holland be will on hand to accept the Technology Implementation of the Year award on Dec. 7 at the Convenience Store News Fuels & Tech Summit in Riviera Beach, Fla.