If innovation is the path to profitability as research often shows, then 7-Eleven USA will undoubtedly retain it’s dominance as the ‘largest chain in the convenience-retailing industry’.
With a legacy of innovation as the world’s first convenience store, the brand has created an impressive business featuring a global footprint of over 66,000 stores in 17 countries, focused on product innovations such as Slurpees, as well as being the world’s first to offer coffee cups ‘to go’! From products and stores to its now relentless focus on digital initiatives to power its future, 7-Eleven USA is launching a whole range of extended services with breathtaking speed and ambition – ‘redefining convenience’ in this digital age.
As a software company focused exclusively on building engaging loyalty programmes, we share the brand’s belief in ‘non-stop innovation and customer obsession’ – a vision for excellence that builds brand loyalty through customer experience.
This article summarises some of the exciting digital ideas currently being trialled, tested and implemented throughout 7-Eleven USA.
Time is the most precious commodity for convenience customers, so with the launch of 7-Eleven Now in December 2017, 7-Eleven USA is clearly determined to do everything in its power to deliver the ultimate, efficient experience. It offers mobile ordering, home delivery and in-store pick-up – all from the app. Although limited to just ten stores currently, 7-Eleven Now has the potential to be a nationwide hit strategy, offering Dallas-based customers an exciting promise if they ‘Want it, Get it… NOW’. Customers simply pre-order from a select range of products in their app store. Then they either have those products delivered direct to their home from the local store or alternatively, their order is prepared for them to just collect at the till in their local store – pre-paid for speed and simplicity.
Launched with an offer of one free delivery for each new customer, their current campaign extends the benefits to SEVEN free deliveries – building patterns of reliance and frequent shopping behaviours previously unimaginable in the US market. Chief Digital Officer Gurmeet Singh is quoted as saying “We continuously ask our consumers how we can make their lives better, and 7‑Eleven NOW is a proprietary solution to their on-demand needs. The app will enable our customers to get the products they want, when and where they want them, quickly and conveniently. This is redefining convenience”.
Bank On Us (Transact)
Financial services are an essential part of our lives, but banks have limited opening hours which are often inconvenient for busy consumers. Based on this insight, 7-Eleven launched it’s ‘Pay Near Me’ option in 2015, and now offers over 27,000 locations throughout North America where 7-Eleven customers can pay their utility bills in cash – anytime day or night.
Even more recently, ‘Transact’ has been launched as a prepaid Mastercard that brings a range of unique and compelling banking benefits to customers – based on true customer needs and insights. For example, customers whose salaries are transferred to the service can typically access their funds two days earlier than banking clients, a truly customer-centric policy of crediting funds immediately rather than on full settlement. Transact also includes free ATM services (which usually incur a service fee in the US) and mobile cheque loading based on a digital scan of the paper document.
While 7-Eleven may never be able to offer the full range of services of a traditional bank, with such an impressive range of banking services, there is no doubt that the ‘Bank on Us’ range of products will disrupt the financial services industry, particularly if it fails to innovative for digital natives the same way that 7-Eleven are.
Facebook Messenger Bot
It’s still early days in the adoption of messenger bots in retail, however, 7-Eleven USA is once again leading the way with the November 2017 launch of its Facebook messenger chatbot – described as a ‘new era of conversational commerce’. The bot uses machine learning technology to respond to basic customers’ needs such as finding local stores. It also functions as an instant 7Rewards app, issuing an immediate digital card that can be used immediately by ‘time-starved and digital-reliant consumers’. It may not be the first loyalty programme to leverage a messenger chatbot but the retail giant is uniquely placed to drive consumers to use this compelling technology.
Amazon – Friend or Foe?
While many fear the power of Amazon, 7-Eleven USA is choosing to strategically align itself with them in two distinct ways. The first features a 7-Eleven store on the Amazon marketplace selling 7-Select own-brand products, leading one reviewer to comment:
“Great price! Way better than actually buying in the convenience store.”
As an online marketer, I’ve always believed that brands should be selling online where their customers are (exactly as you would offline), so this strategy makes perfect sense to me. The range is currently limited to own-brand products that don’t require any special storage or urgency to deliver, and it will be fascinating to watch whether the partnership extends to more perishable or branded products.
A second clever partnership between the two brands is designed to allow customers to use cash to shop online on Amazon.com. Amazon Cash is a simple app that customers download and then take to an offline store such as 7-Eleven, where cash funds can be added to their account for immediate use online. This gives Amazon a way to sell to cautious consumers who still prefer not to enter their credit card details online, and drives footfall to 7-Eleven stores for access to this simple and effective solution.
Although billed as the ruthless corporate juggernaut people love, it makes sense to partner with Amazon as a hugely trusted brand and find ways to build convenience propositions that fit with 7-Eleven’s determination to dominate digitally (online) as they do offline.
Few brands are investing, testing and launching digital initiatives with the scale and speed that 7-Eleven are, including early trials of hot and cold food via drone delivery – even if the public infrastructure is not yet ready for this to go mainstream.
I’m incredibly impressed with such a solution-focused approach to digital, so I have no doubt 7-Eleven will continue to dominate globally and retain it’s position in prestigious lists such as the world’s most valuable brands.
Liquid Barcodes is a leading global loyalty and digital marketing technology company specialized for 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, Three Mobile, Electric Ireland, Allied Irish Bank and The Entertainer, as well as Avios – the global points currency for some of the world’s top airlines. I am also a judge for the Loyalty Magazine Awards.