Customer convenience retailer 7-Eleven will likely start to notice significant new benefits from the business’s digital transformation as the company enhances the capabilities on its core app, according to the executive leading the change.
The group’s first foray into digital was a fuel lock app which proved surprisingly popular — it helps commuters build certainty into the price of petrol.
In the coming months — and subject to ACCC approval — there will be an expanded loyalty rewards program with Velocity and potentially increased eCommerce capabilities, along with the roll out of micro-stores.
At the recent Adobe Summit in Sydney, Stephen Eyears, General Manager Strategy and Technology at 7-Eleven Australia, told Which-50, “Our priority is customer digital transformation at this stage so it’s all about engaging with customers to have digital means.
“At its very core our is our 7-Eleven app. We started with the 7-Eleven fuel lock app. That was an experiment, quite frankly, to see whether customers would even digitally connect with a convenience store business. And yes, they did.”
Indeed, he says, it was much more popular than the business anticipated.
“So it still has that fuel lock mechanism, but it [also] has stage one of our loyalty mechanism — the reward on the seventh visit. It is now the primary tool and it is where we will start to add a lot of other features.
“Subject to ACCC we’ll have a velocity partnership that’s going through approvals right now. If that is positive, it’ll happen quickly. And ‘Pay and Go’ technology will be a feature of the 7-Eleven app.
“We are doing deliveries now in certain markets, and we’re trying to figure out what the business model is and what the customer proposition is.”
The program began pre-COVID, and was happening at a very small level, says Eyears. “We were running small experiments but it’s a very tricky area.
“Then COVID came along and the CEO said ‘It feels like a no-brainer’.”
As the country’s CBDs emptied out under lockdown, the suburban stores benefited from consumers who weren’t allowed to travel more than a few kilometres from their homes. With lockdowns lifted and COVID, for now at least, under control around the country, it is time to look to the future.
“The question now is how can we get much bigger scale, really quickly.”
7-Eleven is also experimenting with micro-markets, which involves putting small 7-Eleven stores into office towers or train stations.
When it comes to eCommerce, Eyears says, “We feel like there’s potential here now. We have to experiment. That might mean click and collect. I think you might be surprised at click and collect opportunities.”
7-Eleven Australia believes its transformative digital strategy signals a significant step forward.
Writing about the transformation earlier this year, via a company blog, Eyears argued that the question the company needed to ask was, “What technology will enable us to give our customers what they need, when they need it, and in a way that is faster, more scalable, and more efficient?
“When we think about convenience in the future, the services people want are going to be a lot more sophisticated. So, knowing our customers and ensuring our offer meets their individual needs will be key to utilising technology to develop the services necessary to meet those needs.
“Our store teams know many of their customers personally and we do not believe there’s a physical customer world and then a separate digital customer world. It is one customer experience across both the digital and bricks-and-mortar environments.
“The challenge for us is to enhance the in-store focus on customers we have had over the past 40-plus years by supporting our store teams with the products and services that make customers’ everyday easier.
“Digital can help us do that faster, more personally, more efficiently, and at scale,” Eyears wrote.