Digital, Private Brands at Center of 2019 7-Eleven Experience
Renée M. Covino, Convenience Store News
A 7-Eleven model store was part of the multifaceted event.
LAS VEGAS — Two initiatives — digital and private label — were at the forefront of the recent 2019 7-Eleven Experience (7EE), the convenience store giant’s annual conference.
The multifaceted event, held in Las Vegas, consisted of a trade show, expo, Product Assortment Learning Center (PALC) and model store. The trade show featured more than 146 vendor partners — double the number of booths from last year — and 888 pre-book opportunities for 7-Eleven franchisees. Hundreds of new products also were available for sampling.
According to Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven, this year’s conference drew a record attendance of more than 4,500 7-Eleven franchisees and their guests, and a total attendance of 8,500-plus. The overall theme of the conference was: Customer-Obsessed, Digitally-Enabled.
During the event, Convenience Store News had the opportunity to conduct exclusive interviews with 7-Eleven CEO Joe DePinto and Chief Information Officer/Chief Digital Officer Gurmeet Singh.
Scan & Pay, the retailer’s mobile self-checkout that lets customers skip the line and pay for their purchases using the 7-Eleven app (which also houses the chain’s popular 7Rewards loyalty program), was one of the centerpieces of the 2019 7-Eleven Experience. Unveiled late last year in 14 test stores in Dallas, Scan & Pay was available for franchisee interaction in the model store.
“Nobody else has done this — integrated self-checkout with a loyalty program,” Singh told CSNews. “Customers can now take control of their shopping experience and earn loyalty points at the same time.”
DePinto said the target is to have 850 stores operating with Scan & Pay by the end of 2019.
The first wave of Scan & Pay stores will all be in the same region of the country, still undisclosed. Unlike the 14 pilot stores, “it’s not necessarily in the Texas area,” Singh hinted.
To use Scan & Pay, customers must be within the geofenced area in or around a participating store. Using Scan & Pay through the 7-Eleven mobile app is designed to be simple for those who want to get in and out quickly and don’t want a lot of interaction, according to Singh.
The basic steps of Scan & Pay are:
Have the latest version of the 7-Eleven app;
Register for the 7Rewards loyalty program;
Open the app and tap “Start Scanning”;
Shop and scan items with a barcode (clear shopping bags are offered);
Pay for purchases using Apple Pay, Google Pay or a traditional debit or credit card;
Scan the QR code on the final confirmation screen at the Scan & Pay station.
This last step is one that 7-Eleven added after lessons learned in the initial testing.
“We realized later that customers wanted a green light,” DePinto told CSNews. And so that’s literally what they get now — the sleek Scan & Pay confirmation station flashes green and makes a dinging sound, indicating payment was successful.
“This is not just about the technology,” Singh added. “It’s an entire customer experience and we have to think through all of these things that make it such."
Private-Label Leaps & Bounds
7-Eleven customers expect higher quality and value, and the retailer is delivering that with its private brands, according to DePinto. The company expects its private brands business to reach more than $1 billion in sales this year as it continues to evolve and unveil new private brand categories and SKUs.
“We’ve grown our private brand assortment from just 87 items in 2008 to more than 1,500 items today through an intense focus on continuous improvement and quality,” he said.
Among the chain’s currently popular private brand items are:
7-Select peanut butter filled pretzels in a 3-ounce snack package;
7-Select pure water — purified water with minerals and electrolytes added for taste — in a 20-ounce bottle;
7-Select Go!Smart cold-pressed organic juice in 11.2- and 14-ounce glass bottles, offered at two for $5;
7-Select Go!Yum ice cream pints;
7-Select energy shots with 100 percent natural flavors and zero calories in 2-ounce mini bottles;
7-Select co-branded with Jack Link’s portable meat snacks in exclusive flavors; and
7-Select extra-strength acetaminophen in a four-caplet box.
DePinto said he’s especially proud of the award-winning cold-pressed organic juices, which were launched about a year ago. “They’re phenomenal. They immediately went to being top-sellers in the category,” the chief executive shared.
Grabbing from the model store the Restoration Red variety, which features tomato, tart cherry, beet, strawberry, apple and lime juices, DePinto added that “there’s no preservatives, no additives and exactly what you see listed is what you’re drinking.”
More private brands are on the way this year. One of the most anticipated ones, due out in May, will be its own brand of cigarettes sold under the label of Teton.
The 2019 7-Eleven Experience was held in February at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.