How 7-Eleven Does Loyalty Right


7-Eleven may be famous for Slurpees, but its loyalty program is just as sweet.

The app-based 7Rewards program gives members free Slurpees for repeat purchases, and also lets them score deals on snacks, hot food and household supplies.

Since expanding the program two years ago, the world’s largest convenience retailer has experienced an uptick in store visits and loyalty, with 7Rewards membership tripling to 25 million members.

In the race for loyalty, these numbers give 7-Eleven a clear lead, with close competitors reporting much lower membership for 2019. In fact, 7-Eleven is already a decorated winner: In 2019, the retailer received the Convenience Store News Technology Leader of the Year award, a Loyalty360 Technology and Trends Platinum Award, the International Business Gold Stevie Award for Integrated Mobile Experience, and several others.

What Is 7Rewards Doing Right?

7-Eleven is clearly on the right track when it comes to securing long-term customer loyalty.

Although the overall program is robust and effective in achieving the brand’s loyalty goals, there are two key aspects of 7Rewards that contribute to its success and keep members satisfied:

1. Ease of Use: 7Rewards is an app-based program. Members use their mobile devices to scan their customer cards and in some stores, can even scan and purchase items to avoid the line entirely. In addition to these features, the 7Rewards app hosts digital coupons that are automatically applied upon scanning, with more than 80 percent of products redeemable. Discounts are not dependent on repeat purchases or racking up points and, in most cases, are applied as quickly as the shopper’s first purchase. Rewards, such as offering the seventh drink purchase for free, are just as attainable, making it easy for members to understand the benefit of using the app and scanning their cards at every purchase. This is critical as today’s modern consumers expect loyalty programs to add convenience to their lives with instant benefits and further purchasing simplicity.

2. Customer-Centric Benefits: 7-Eleven knows its customers and gives them exactly what they want and need in a loyalty program. The brand makes it easy for members to get more of what they want, like Slurpees, rather than items the brand wants to sell. Providing rewards for best-selling products means customers are more likely to shop in-store — and pick up additional items during their visits.

Taking 7Rewards to the Next Level

7-Eleven is experiencing significant membership growth with 7Rewards. Whether or not those numbers plateau, it’s a smart move for the brand to start planning how to take the program to the next level. One way to ensure high enrollment, continued use and market differentiation is with a premium loyalty tier that secures the brand’s most beloved advocates.

Premium loyalty programs are fee-based and offer benefits that free programs can’t. Rather than receiving benefits after a purchase or, in the case of 7Rewards, after a scan, benefits are offered to members upfront and without any purchase history.

A great example of this is Amazon Prime, currently more than 100 million members strong. Premium loyalty members, like Prime members, are highly engaged with the brand and likely to return on a more frequent basis, choosing their preferred brand over competitors.

Securing frequent, loyal shoppers with a premium loyalty program increases overall engagement, average order volume and organic loyalty. Not to mention, a premium loyalty program impresses and delights customers with experiential benefits independent of transactions.

For 7-Eleven, a premium program could offer paying members experiential benefits like a travelling Slurpee truck or a game-day snack delivery box, and enhanced transactional benefits like 20 percent off every order or a free drink with purchase.

Loyalty is unique — find what fits your customer base best.

Brands need to remember that every customer base interacts with brand programs in a unique way. A one-size-fits-all approach won’t cut it. With customer data that provides insight into shoppers’ wants and needs, brands can successfully build a program with the right mix of benefits to drive loyalty, repeat purchases and increased engagement — even without the sweet advantage of Slurpees.

Tom Caporaso is CEO of Clarus Commerce, which specializes in the design, development and implementation of customized premium loyalty programs for retailers. He has more than 20 years of experience in the loyalty and subscription space.

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News.

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