A Chat With 7-Eleven’s Chief Digital Officer
IRVING, Texas — Consumers are increasingly being starved for time. The world is becoming increasingly connected and on demand. And 3 billion people around the world are essentially walking around with computers in their hands at all times. These are the trends that have 7-Eleven Inc. Chief Digital Officer Gurmeet Singh excited about the future of the nation’s largest convenience store chain.
“7-Eleven is already a leader in convenience and has a long history of innovation. My thinking is: How can the digital team at 7-Eleven redefine convenience?” explained Singh, who joined the Irving-based retailer as chief digital officer in September 2016, having previously led digital transformations at Capital One; FedEx; and Intuit, the maker of TurboTax and QuickBooks.
Singh was drawn to 7-Eleven because with 8,900 stores in the U.S. and 64,000 stores globally, there’s an existing physical strength that can be combined with the power of digital. Furthermore, more than 50 percent of the U.S. population is within a mile of a 7-Eleven store.
“I call it a #makeropportunity,” he told Convenience Store News.
In Singh’s opinion, 7-Eleven is doing a lot of things well in the digital space today. Everything is done “for the sake of the consumer,” he said. This includes things they see and some things they don’t see.
“We have a successful 7Rewards [loyalty] program with 9 million members and good feedback from our consumers. We just announced enhancements to the program. We want to make sure we’re doing the best for our consumer even before they ask for it,” he said, noting that 7-Eleven CEO Joseph DePinto leads the way as a visionary. “We also have partnerships with companies like Postmates for delivery. And we have technology that helps our store associates deliver the best experiences.”
According to Singh, DePinto’s vision for 7-Eleven includes charting the path for the future while preserving the company’s existing strengths. With this in mind, Singh and his team are always looking to redefine convenience and “develop experiences of the future” that leverage the 7-Eleven brand.
“These experiences will be inside the store, but they will be outside the store as well. We want to bring the store to the consumer wherever and whenever they need us,” Singh said. “We are 24/7, but there are times when people can’t make it to the store. So, we are asking: How can we get them what they need as fast as they need it? A mom who needs diapers in the middle of the night, for example.”
Some items on Singh’s current to-do list include:
- Testing delivery via drones;
- Looking at speeding up lines in the stores;
- Looking at digital payments in regards to speeding up the customer experience;
- Using IoT devices to communicate better with 7-Eleven’s customers; and
- Teaching Amazon’s Alexa 7-Eleven tasks.
“We have such a strong brand behind us. It’s an exciting time at 7-Eleven,” he said.