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How 7-Eleven Uses Technology to Keep Everyone Connected

By Steve Holland, Chief Technology and Digital Officer (CTO/CDO), 7-Eleven

Steve Holland, Chief Technology and Digital Officer (CTO/CDO), 7-Eleven

At 7-Eleven, convenience is our business. We know that in order to create a convenient environment for customers, it’s crucial that every part of our operation runs smoothly. Our franchisees’ time and effort is our most valuable resource in satisfying customers, and the more time we can save them in their day-to-day operations by speeding up product ordering and inventory check in/check out, the more time they can spend interacting with and serving their customers.

Streamlining store operations allows franchisees to spend less time in front of a computer screen and more time with customers. The more we can do from the corporate end to help run stores more efficiently, the more time franchisees can spend ensuring customers are getting what they want, when they want it.

We are constantly finding and implementing new and innovative ways to connect all parts of our business together. Technological solutions have made it possible to connect franchisees to their stores, connect stores to the corporate center and connect customers with the products they want.

Connecting the Franchisee to the Store

Making stores faster and more efficient begins by having good equipment. Our work to streamline store operations started with providing franchisees with new in-store computers, fast wireless hand held scanners and wireless tablets on the sales floor to make every day ordering tasks faster and easier. Simply updating store equipment gave us the opportunity to direct our energy at creating new and better systems for store operations.

Our new Retail Information System Evolution, or RISE, was specially designed to make running stores faster, easier and more efficient for franchisees. With RISE, franchisees can more easily manage product assortment, order product and create a cash report with as few keystrokes as possible. Key operation information is updated and available on an hourly basis and, in some cases, by the minute.

The cloud-based Store Information Analysis system is a key analytical part of the RISE system, and provides tools to help franchisees zero in on issues faster while enabling quicker decisions by identifying the top 200 sellers in their store and local market. This allows franchisees to easily see which key items are selling well and could bring additional sales and profits to their store. In addition, the franchisee can see all sections of the store on just one screen and drill down into the data with a single click to quickly identify areas that could drive increased sales.

7-Eleven was able to roll out all these store simplification and technical changes to 8,400 stores in the U.S. and Canada in just 189 days.

7-Eleven is also making it easier for franchisees to keep up with the day-to-day operations of their store. Before, emails could only be checked at the store office computer, which made it difficult to oversee store operations when franchisees were away or for franchisees with multiple stores. Now, with 7-Eleven’s Email Reader program, franchisees can link their store email to their personal email and read messages sent to the store from anywhere they can access their personal email.

Connecting the Store to the Corporate Center

We developed the Business Transformation system to help franchisees run their stores more efficiently and profitably. Business Transformation allows 7-Eleven to automatically check in, scan products and create a perpetual inventory for franchisees—a first in our industry.

We are connecting systems to work together and benefit franchisees and save time in their stores. Inventory is important to our franchisees and we created a new way to look at inventory for each store by leveraging the two loss technique and automating it. Combined with our RISE program data, a store can now see where they have too much inventory based on trends and where they need to order more inventory before the delivery date so they don’t run out of top sellers.

The connections between RISE and Business Transformation also gives our corporate center to ability to suggest orders for the middle, low-velocity section of stores with a system called Guided Replenishment. With the time saved, franchisees will be able to focus more on driving one of our key strategies - Fresh Foods and Proprietary Beverages. To help address franchisee issues quickly, 7-Eleven has created 7help, a new system allowing franchisees to bring to 7-Eleven’s immediate attention issues with Accounting, Payroll, Technology, reporting or any of the different services available. We are even working toward technology that allows revenue-generating machines to call for needed support by themselves before they experience malfunctions.

Connecting Customers to Stores

If there’s one way in which technology has drastically changed business, it’s in connecting with customers. 85 percent of Americans own a smart phone, and customers have changed the ways in which they connect with companies. Companies are now trying to find ways to engage customers by appealing to their smart phones—usually with apps.

At 7-Eleven, we’ve noticed that customers who use our company’s app purchase more over the life of customers that don’t, so creating an appealing app is essential to our business.

We continually upgrade the 7-Eleven app to give customers what they want in the most convenient way. The 7-Eleven app features deals, promotions to win products or attend exclusive events and digital coupons that save more money for the customer. Where before coupons had to be individually scanned, we’ve now given each customer a personalized code that the franchisee only has to scan once and all applicable discounts are applied for the best deal. We leverage their buying habits to create more relevant offers that each customer will want to use more often.

Technology has made this an exciting time to be in retail. At 7-Eleven, we have dedicated ourselves to investing in the right solutions to serve franchisees, allowing us to innovate and provide proactive support to our stores. Our goal is to make 7-Eleven store operations faster and more efficient, and these current and future technologies will accomplish just that.

We expect a bright future as new store technologies are implemented that allow franchisees to focus more on their customers and provide the convenient and friendly service that 7-Eleven is known for.