The 7-Eleven chain of convenience stores is at the old-school-business end of the trust equation. But time and technology have changed all that – as did introducing $1 coffees.

For 7-Eleven, which has traditionally been firmly a bricks and mortar, ‘your-local-deli-on-the-corner’, business, online consumerism is a disruption that has to be dealt with.

At its heart is a dilemma: how do you keep the trust of regular customers, who in this case pop in to get their bread and milk each day, while trying to develop a relationship with the new online generation.

Head of digital innovation, Paul Wallace, says, at the moment, transactions only take place within a bricks-and-mortar environment but that will most likely change.

“We’re definitely doing some test-and-learns online in terms of catering and we’ve also just launched a cashless cardless concept store at our head office in Melbourne. In the case of the latter example we are making the transaction as simple as possible, customers create a user profile on their smartphone app, link their credit card and upload a selfie.

“Customers scan their own items on their phone and check out within seconds without having to queue or re-enter their payment details.

“Team members monitor transactions digitally, without needing to view transaction receipts with customers before they leave the store.

“What the app means for the store leader and team members in the concept store is that they can focus on greeting and assisting customers, and completing the tasks needed to give our customers a fantastic experience in store.

“The cashless concept is being trialled in this one store only to test the technology and see how it works for both customers and team members.”

“We’ll be using the insight from the concept store to look at how we might evolve the transaction experience more broadly, including whether this app has the potential to roll out as an option alongside the  point-of-sale [POS] in stores.”

Wallace says a lot of 7-Eleven’s sales are driven through customers coming to buy coffee, lunch and hot pastries. However, growth in those areas has created some in-store challenges for 7-Eleven.

“7-Eleven is all about being convenient for our customers which means you get in and out quickly and the shopping experience is easy. However, it is easy to detract from that experience. For instance, when we introduced the $1 coffees, we created queues at the coffee machines. While we have put in more coffee machines to minimise those queues, we now have queues at our checkouts so we have had to look at how we use digital to remove those pain points.”

Wallace says as the corner store giant considers how to generate and build trust over the next few years, a key focus will be on how – by bringing digital into the store environment – it can drive less friction within the customer experience, so it can, again, drive value back to the customer. This could be through either a quicker, easier, experience in-store or a more personalised experience that highlights the promotions and deals that are more relevant to them, rather than the customer having to seek them out.

“It means demonstrating value within our existing experience and then, when talking about the future, it is more about how we blend the physical and digital world so that potentially rather than having to come to 7-Eleven, 7-Eleven might come to you,” he says.

Wallace is speaking about how technology can help deliver trust by enabling a successful consumer experience. For digital experiences to be frictionless, intuitive and secure, the architecture, the technology, has be best of a kind. If it isn’t and the result is the loss of an individual’s data then consumer trust in a company is one of the first things to go.

Getting the technology right and getting it secure has never been more important.

About this author

Mike Gee is a writer for the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit of which SAP CX is a corporate member. Members provide their insights and expertise for the benefit of the Which-50 community. Membership fees apply. 

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