7-Eleven digital transformation ushers in new era of convenience

7-Eleven is testing chatbots, digital rewards, machine learning and other technologies to enhance customer loyalty and convenience. Gurmeet Singh, the company's CDO and CIO, is leading the charge.

7-Eleven digital transformation ushers in new era of convenience

Seeking to strengthen consumer loyalty, 7-Eleven has launched a chatbot and a new rewards app, and is experimenting with other emerging technologies such as drones, biometrics and peer-to-peer payments. If the initiatives work as intended, they will help the chain redefine convenience for the 55 million consumers who visit any of the chain's 63,000 stores worldwide daily, says 7-Eleven Chief Digital Officer and CIO Gurmeet Singh.

"We have the opportunity to redefine convenience through digital by building experiences for the future in the store and outside the store," Singh, who joined 7-Eleven from Capital One last year, tells CIO.com. "We have the opportunity to delight customers."

But not without some serious attention to making an already seamless user experience — the average customer transaction is two minutes — even more frictionless. 7-Eleven mastered the fine art of retail convenience, enabling consumers to zip in and out to buy coffee and cigarettes, lotto tickets, gas cans and other sundry items. It was the first convenience store chain open 24-7 and the first to sell coffee in to-go cups and fountain soda via self-service. Roughly 50 percent of the U.S. population lives within one mile of a 7-Eleven, which processes 20 billion transactions a year.

Yet the disruptor is facing digital disruption, which takes many forms. Amazon.com's shrinking delivery windows and on-demand services have heightened consumers' expectations. The prospect of drone deliveries, from Amazon.com and others, promises to further shake up retail. For many of today's millennial and Generation Z consumers, convenience must become even more convenient, requiring brands to up their game with new digital services delivered to any consumer on any computing device — and with the proper context.

Digitalizing convenience for connected consumers

"Consumers are 24-7 connected," says Singh. "They're time-starved and their expectations for the brands are increasing because of the technology." To satisfy those consumer preferences, Singh is pushing his team to introduce new services. The first, released in November, is a chatbot on Facebook Messenger. Customers can text the 7-Eleven bot, which answers questions or facilitates transactions by mimicking human speech, to sign up for the 7Rewards customer loyalty platform, find a store location and learn about discounts.

To continue reading this article register now

The CIO Fall digital issue is here! Learn how CIO100 award-winning organizations are reimagining products and services for a new era of customer and employee engagement.