It seems incredible to me that its now two years since I first began writing case studies about how the world’s greatest convenience stores drive customer loyalty, with 7-Eleven the brand I’ve actually written about the most, mainly because of the incredible ideas that it continues to deliver in dramatically different global markets, but most especially the great work its doing for customers in its home market, the USA.
In May 2018, I wrote about 7-Eleven’s two key transformation platforms in the US, firstly “Re-defining Convenience” when I explored the 7Now app which was focused on home delivery, mobile orders, pre-payment and skip-the-line features, and equally importantly, an article called “Winning with Points” which showcased the transformation of the 7-Eleven loyalty program 7Rewards from a simple stamp card in 2015, through to a comprehensive points-based loyalty strategy. So two years on, I’m excited to update you how this flagship brand’s digital and loyalty strategies have performed and progressed. Let’s begin!
When the 7Now app was first launched in December 2017 with just ten trial stores, its key purpose was to ensure speed and simplicity for users. Back then “time was the most precious commodity” to win customers. But as we all know, life is very different now. Last week, 7-Eleven “officially expanded” the 7Now Delivery app with a clear focus on getting back to basics with consumer health concerns taking centre stage. The upgrade was described as “meeting customer’s needs to be in and out of stores quickly with minimal touchpoints and increased physical distancing”, so the app now offers the ability to pre-order, pre-pay, track the entire order through the “picked, packed and ready for pickup” stages, then simply head to the store to pick up their order.
Even more exciting for customers is that the “delivery” option now includes the ability to order from over 3,000 items, from essential household supplies, to treats such as alcohol, candy, Slurpee® and Big Gulp® drinks, as as well as pizza and sandwiches, delivered in “about” 30 minutes. Speed and simplicity, 2020 style.
Impressively, both the pick up and delivery experiences will “soon” be available to 60 million households in over 1,300 cities across nearly 2,000 stores, and with $7 off their first order until March 2021, 7Now looks like it could well prove to be the single best solution imaginable for current market conditions.
7Rewards Reaches New Heights
Already the largest convenience store chain in the world, it’s amazing to note that the brand has continued its extraordinary growth since our articles in 2018. Store numbers at that stage boasted over 66,000 and yet these have grown almost a further 8% to over 71,100!
7Rewards was also celebrating 33% growth of its loyalty programme base from 9 million in 2015 to over 12 million in 2018, but incredibly it has now soared another 175% to an incredible 33 million members, so its strategy to combine points with stamps, as well as the addition of a wallet and skip the line functionality are all driving superb marketing momentum.
With so many enhancements rolling out, we’ve chosen to focus on our two favourites which illustrate what direction the programme is following strategically and which I believe are the most important.
New Feature – Fuel Loyalty
The biggest news is the addition of fuel loyalty as a new category within 7Rewards. Like other prominent fuel retail brands such as RaceTrac, leading fuel retailers are each focused on positioning themselves as the best value brand in this ultra-competitive category. For now, the 7Rewards fuel loyalty option is only available in selected stores in Florida, Texas and Virginia, with the following proposition for 7Rewards members:
- A discount of 11 cents per gallon on the first seven fill-ups (each limited to 20 gallons per transaction, perhaps the richest in the marketplace right now.
- A 3 cent per gallon discount on all other fuel purchases.
Again, importantly, the per-gallon discount will automatically show on the pump display for “instant gratification” and to build trust with customers.
Our second favourite feature within this app upgrade is the introduction of Siri as a voice assistant to support contactless payments. I’ve previously predicted this in two articles about using audio as an effective way to build loyalty either through voice assistants like Alexa, or on the forecourts of the future. Clearly Covid-19 brings a whole new compelling use case for consumers and it’s exciting to see that 7-Eleven is educating customers how to create a Siri shortcut to pay for their fuel, alongside the existing mobile payment options available. I for one, am keen to try “Siri, fuel now” as a way to quickly and safely re-fuel.
While this operational enhancement may have already been in development pre-Covid, I believe its one of those key features that will become essential for more and more retailers as they try to win back customers’ confidence, and it’s once again exciting to note that 7-Eleven is “the first retailer to offer this convenient and frictionless Siri functionality…. to use voice commands to pay for gas.”
In other global news, we’ve previously written about 7-Eleven internationally including an interview with Victor Paterno in 7-Eleven in the Philippines, their award-winning team in Denmark as well as some great innovation from 7-Eleven Australia on their pricing strategy. Most recently, we also saw confirmation of a new country of operation – it’s 19th worldwide – Cambodia, as well as some exciting ideas from the team in Korea, crediting Covid for accelerating the launch of their latest innovations. A great post on LinkedIn mentions palm recognition technology as well as data from floor sensors that monitor in-store traffic patterns to understand dwell time and key areas of interest in their new staff-less store.
With so many innovative ideas, I have no doubt that 7-Eleven will continue to be one of our favourite flagship brands to keep you updated on for years to come.
Liquid Barcodes is a leading global loyalty and digital marketing technology company specialising in the convenience store and foodservice industries. Our proprietary cloud-based technology platform allow retailers to create and manage their digital marketing campaigns with a proprietary process we call the “customer connection cycle’ to engage, promote and reward customers activities in real-time across digital and media channels.
How we do it:
We have developed the most advanced loyalty and digital marketing technology platform specifically for convenience store and foodservice retailers globally.
Retailers use our self-service dashboard to create and manage loyalty driven marketing campaigns that increase purchases with their existing customers, as well as effectively target and acquire new customers through partners or paid media channels.
One core component of live loyalty is gamification. We have gamified branding, loyalty and promotions. We believe this approach is essential in order to get customers’ attention and ultimately truly engage them with repeatable actions thereby winning their loyalty.
Check out some of our exciting/proven results here:
Chief Content Officer, Liquid Barcodes and Independent Loyalty Consultant
With over twenty-five years marketing experience, I specialise in loyalty marketing consulting, managing consumer loyalty propositions, strategy and operations. In addition to working with Liquid Barcodes, my clients have included Telefonica O2 Priority, Three Mobile, Electric Ireland, Allied Irish Bank and The Entertainer Group (UAE), as well as Avios – the global points currency for some of the world’s top airlines. I am also a former judge for the Loyalty Magazine Awards and host of the “Let’s Talk Loyalty” podcast.