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IRVING, Texas — In the past few years, 7-Eleven Inc. has embraced innovation and recently strengthened its commitment to digital by naming a chief digital officer.
"7-Eleven is new to the digital journey. We realized we need to have a presence [with mobile device users and customers] and it's taken us awhile," Dawn Gillis, senior director, IT operations and customer service for 7-Eleven Inc., told Retail Customer Experience. "And we have a lot more [work] going forward."
As the news outlet recounted, the convenience retailer took a big step into the mobile apps arena with its 7Rewards loyalty app. The app offers customers incentives for buying any 7-Eleven beverage. For every six drinks purchased, the seventh is free.
The app also offers exclusive offers and allows users to share experience feedback with the company.
In addition to the digital loyalty program, the retailer also offers a Bill Pay app that lets consumers pay bills at 7-Eleven convenience stores.
The same year 7-Eleven joined with Postmates to offer on-demand delivery, beginning in San Francisco and Austin, Texas, and DoorDash. The retailer eventually spread its delivery effort to college campuses through a deal with Tapingo.
This past summer, 7-Eleven brought its efforts to the sky when its paired with Flirty, a drone delivery service, and marked its 89th birthday with the first home drone delivery in Reno, Nev.
According to Gill, the app effort has led to changes in relation to interactions between associates and consumers, and is providing 7-Eleven with data that is helping the brand improve its customer experience.
While it's in its early stage, the brand's data focus is on solid footing and the brand is identifying what steps are next, she said.
"We have to get maniacal about getting customer focused," she said.
Another priority for the chain is to put 7-Eleven, and its private product brands, into the top tier of online search. "We haven't done much [with that] and its now part of our digital strategy," Gillis added.
7-Eleven is also working to establish its presence in a different setting — airports.
"We're focused on locations and expansion and getting to know more about the customer," she said, estimating "it will take five years to get in a real comfortable position" regarding customer insight.
With 10,900 convenience stores in North America, Gill explained the Irving-based company's size has been a challenge in moving quickly with digital technology.
"It's one reason why we have been slow in getting customer engagement and management programs going," she told the outlet.