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7-Eleven tests cashierless store in the U.S.

Screen Shot 2020-02-06 at 4.02.33 PM7-Eleven Inc. is debuting a cashierless store at its corporate headquarters in Irving.

During the pilot, the 700-sq. ft. non-traditional store is available to 7-Eleven employees.

The shopping experience is simple: Employees download an app, sign up, check in at the store, enter the store, shop and exit. A detailed receipt appears in the app automatically after he or she exits.

A proprietary mixture of algorithms and predictive technology enables the store system to separate individual customers and their purchases from others in the store, according to the c-store retailer.

“Ultimately, our goal is to exceed consumers’ expectations for faster, easier transactions and a seamless shopping experience,” said Mani Suri, 7-Eleven senior vice president and chief information officer. “Introducing new store technology to 7-Eleven employees first has proven to be a very productive way to test and learn before launching to a wider audience. They are honest and candid with their feedback, which enables us to learn and quickly make adjustments to improve the experience.

“This in-house, custom built technology by 7-Eleven engineers is designed for our current and future customers. We continue to innovate, and coupling fresh, innovative, healthy food options with a frictionless shopping experience could be a game-changer,” he added.

A cashierless concept marks another innovative technological advancement from 7-Eleven. Last year, it introduced Mobile Checkout, allowing customers to skip the line and pay using their smartphone. The c-store operator also added 7NOW Pins to its mobile app. The proprietary technology allows customers to order the delivery service to public locations that may not have traditional addresses, like parks, beaches and more.

“Retail technology is evolving at a rapid pace and customer expectations are driving the evolution,” said 7-Eleven President and CEO Joe DePinto. “Our team is dedicated to continuing 7-Eleven’s legacy of innovation with industry-leading digital solutions. Most recently that has included our award winning 7Rewards loyalty platform, 7NOW on-demand delivery, mobile checkout, and now our new cashierless store.”

7-Eleven operates, franchises and/or licenses more than 70,000 stores in 17 countries, including 11,800 in North America.

Originally published at Convenience Store News. 


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7-Eleven Canada says Aloha

Screen Shot 2020-01-20 at 5.55.10 PMJanuary is cold, dark and gloomy and 7-Eleven Canada aims to help with the post-holiday blues, pulling customers out of their winter slumps.

The retailer is offering cups of Hawaiian Kona Blend Coffee in a special Kona print cup. And, with every registered coffee scan, 7Rewards members will be entered for a chance to win one of seven trips to Hawaii.

The promo shines a light on Kona blend coffee, which is grown and harvested on the slopes of the Mauna Loa on the Big Island – it also encourages customers to sign up for the retailer’s loyalty app. Every winter, 7-Eleven promotes its exclusive Kona Blend, inviting customers to escape Canadian winters, even just for a moment.

“With a long winter still ahead, we want to make our customers days a little brighter by bringing that Hawaiian feeling home,” says 7-Eleven Canada vice-president and general manager, Norman Hower, said in a release. “The majority of Canadians would like to escape the cold climate during the winter, so we are excited to provide our 7Rewards registered members with a chance to win a trip to Hawaii.”

 

Based in Irving, Texas, 7-Eleven operates, franchises and/or licenses more than 69,000 in 17 countries, including 11,800 in North America.


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The way to consumers’ hearts is through their stomachs

With convenience at their core, c-stores take a bite out of the foodservice market

Screen Shot 2019-12-13 at 9.01.40 AMMilk. Bread. Tobacco. These are the traditional staples that drew customers to convenience stores. Tradition is changing. More and more it’s foodservice selections—everything from authentic shawarma to vegan pizza to gourmet burgers—that are attracting customers and keeping them coming back.

C-stores are offering more diverse food options and emphasizing high quality, hoping to reduce the stigma of “gas station food,” says Julia Taylor, c-store segment leader with Cargill Foodservice in Gibsonia, PA. “They are focusing on having desirable and distinct products that build their brand reputation to create loyal customers and build their food business by becoming a foodservice destination.” 

The efforts are paying off. U.S. convenience stores experienced a 16th straight year of record in-store sales in 2018, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores’ (NACS) most recent state of the industry report. There, foodservice sales accounted for 22.6% of in-store sales, while in Canada it’s estimated to be about 13%. This category continues to be a key focus for the convenience store channel, according to NACS, which defines foodservice as a broad category that primarily encompasses prepared food, as well as commissary foods and hot, cold and frozen dispensed beverages.

Evolving to accommodate foodservice

The growth in foodservice also has led to an increase in store size. Overall, the average convenience store is 3,230 sq. ft. However, as newer stores feature touchscreen food-ordering kiosks, add space for in-store seating and waiting areas and incorporate an open-kitchen design, the size of new stores has increased to 4,991 sq. ft. in rural locations, and 4,603 sq. ft. in urban locations.

Investing in food is time and money well spent, says Taylor. “Operations looking to offer broad mix solutions will be rewarded by their customers. Shoppers are seeking a place that gives them a break in the action of a hectic daily routine—a place that bails them out and always has their back.”

 Catering to consumers’ tastes

Indeed, selection and quality is such that many customers are turning to c-stores instead of fast food outlets. “Convenience retailers with compelling foodservice programs are a growing threat to quick service restaurants,” says Frank Beard, convenience store trends analyst at GasBuddy, an app company based in Boston. “Data show that people choose convenience stores over fast food locations because of the convenience of an all-in-one stop for fuel and food, followed by a preference for the taste of the food at c-stores.”

Diversity is a cornerstone. Today’s foodservice options go well beyond pre-wrapped sandwiches, muffins and soup. “Convenience brands are well-positioned to cater to consumers’ tastes because they aren’t pigeon-holed into one type of cuisine,” Beard notes, adding that younger consumers prefer more variety, particularly with newer menu items like burritos and pizzas.

7-Eleven Canada, for example, has added Beyond Meat Pizza to its existing Hot to Go menu. Made with 100% plant-based Italian sausage crumbles, the new slice plays a dual role for many Canadians: it satisfies their craving for pizza and their desire to eat more healthily.  “By expanding the fresh food assortment offered to our customers, we hope to provide options for every preference,” says Doug Rosencrans, VP and general manager of 7-Eleven Canada in Vancouver. “Beyond Meat has created excitement around plant-based protein alternatives and with the introduction of the Beyond Sausage and Roasted Veggie Pizza, we are providing our customers with what they want.”

Quality items that appeal to a broad customer base at the right price point are important for convenience stores, stresses Taylor. “Creating and offering signature, desirable items elevates c-stores from a convenience stop to a portable dining destination. Give customers options that go beyond the current selection and utilize promotions to encourage consumers to change up their habits.” 

Tyson Foods, Inc., for instance, has launched Pact, a new line of functional refrigerated protein snacks created to help people harness the natural benefits of food. Pact Snack Bites are literally packed with nutrition. Made with real fruits and nuts, they have 10-plus wholesome ingredients per serving and contain ingredients like kombucha, matcha and turmeric. “Consumers are looking for delicious, convenient foods to deliver essential protein and other functional benefits,” says Noelle O’Mara, group president of prepared foods for Tyson Foods in Springdale, Ark. 

Saving space

Such offerings are also space savers. Operating in the contemporary foodservice environment does not require a large investment in equipment or significant and additional space to serve up delicious meals. Combi ovens, for instance, are growing in popularity. These ovens, which enable pressureless steam, convected heat, and a combination of both in a single piece of equipment, are more expensive upfront, but save owners from buying and servicing two ovens, while also taking up much less space. 

Screen Shot 2019-12-13 at 9.02.24 AMToronto-based PizzaForno is making it even easier for stores squeezed for interior space to feed hungry customers. There are five 58-sq.-ft. PizzaForno kiosks located outside of convenience stores in Canada, providing 24-7 access to artisan pizzas cooked in an automated oven in just three minutes.

“The PizzaForno kiosks located in front of c-stores have been very effective in not only generating pizza sales, but also increasing in-store sales on items such as beverages, snacks and cigarettes,” says president and co–founder Les Tomlin, adding a turnkey PizzaForno license, including all equipment and set-up, is $150,000. “Operators are required to keep the machine stocked, which can be a daily or every other day task. PizzaForno handles everything else—all the maintenance and service, credit and debit reconciliation, as well as all marketing programs.” 

 Foodservice 101

Screen Shot 2019-12-13 at 9.02.06 AMThe concept speaks to the critical components for foodservice areas, which include bright, visible signage and food that is easily accessible. Research also indicates speed is a relative issue: customers are willing to wait five minutes for their meal.

What is essential is portability, says Taylor, highlighting the company’s Supreme Egg Bites in the U.S. “C-stores should explore ways to facilitate on-the-go eating through bite-sized offerings and packaging that supports dashboard dining.”

In Canada, for instance, Cheesewich is tapping into this trend with Bacon N Eggs to go, as well as its award-winning Cheesewich egg and salami sandwich without the bread.

Cargill also works with c-store owners to enhance their foodservice offerings. “We hold innovation sessions to build relationships and find trends in the market,” says Taylor. “And, we can work with our research and development team to create proprietary SKUs for c-stores that meet the unique needs of the segment.”

 That segment is changing as more and more customers turn to c-stores for lunches, snacks and on-the-go meals. Oh yes, they might pick up a carton of milk and some bread while they’re there.  

Originally published in the November/December issue of Convenience Store News Canada. 


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7-Eleven promo celebrates reverse birthday

Screen Shot 2019-10-29 at 3.56.00 PMIt’s back (to front)! Tomorrow is November 7th (11/7) and 7-Eleven Canada is celebrating its reverse birthday by giving out free medium Slurpee drinks to all customers.

Being the reverse day of 7-Eleven’s 7/11 birthday, customers are encourage to “get wacky and celebrate backward style by dressing in their wildest reverse outfits.”

Canadian Slurpee lovers are encouraged to fully embrace this reverse birthday by going all out, wearing tops on bottom, bottoms on top, hoodies backwards, dresses upside down etc. Those who visit a 7-Eleven on November 7th rocking their reverse clothing can claim a free medium Slurpee drink.


7-Eleven Canada Lands at YYC Calgary International Airport (CNW Group/7-Eleven Canada)

New 7-Eleven stores expand foodservice offering at Calgary airport

7-Eleven Canada Lands at YYC Calgary International Airport (CNW Group/7-Eleven Canada)

7-Eleven Canada Lands at YYC Calgary International Airport (CNW Group/7-Eleven Canada)

7-Eleven Canada is opening two new convenience stores at YYC Calgary International Airport. Open 24/7 and located in the Domestic Terminal, Concourses A & C, both stores will serve travelers and airport employees, as well as those waiting to pick up.

“Whether you are a domestic traveler, an airport employee or are awaiting the arrival of a loved one, we are excited to be adding a convenience factor to the YYC community with these two new locations,” says VP and general manager of 7-Eleven Canada, Norman Hower. “We want to provide travelers and employees with an easy, 24/7 solution for last minute meals, souvenirs, flowers or travel items.”

The newly open stores are conveniently located and offer a wide variety of “hot from the oven in minutes” pizza, wings and hot snacks, fresh to go sandwiches and meals, and beverages, as well as 7-Eleven’s coffee bar and classic Slurpee stations. Freshly cut flowers from fellow airport retailer, A Touch of Petals, are also available in store.

“We are so happy to celebrate the arrival of 7-Eleven Canada at YYC. The brand is globally recognized and has close community ties to Calgary – being home to a Slurpee’s first pour in Canada 50 years ago,” says Rob Palmer, CFO and VP finance, The Calgary Airport Authority. “Our guests asked for changes to our Eat and Shop options and one of the ways we’re delivering is with this partnership with 7-Eleven.”

Based in Irving, Texas, 7-Eleven operates, franchises and/or licenses more than 69,000 in 17 countries, including 11,800 in North America.


7-Eleven Canada - $1 Coffee (CNW Group/7-Eleven Canada)

7-Eleven Canada ups its coffee game with $1 promotion

7-Eleven Canada - $1 Coffee (CNW Group/7-Eleven Canada)

7-Eleven Canada – $1 Coffee (CNW Group/7-Eleven Canada)

7-Eleven Canada’s 7Rewards loyalty members can now score delicious hot beverages for $1 every day of the month. In addition to this new limited time offer, every 7th coffee (any size) is still free and members can earn points with everyday purchases. Points can be redeemed for perks and rewards including free food and beverages as well as access to exclusive deals, contests, and events.

7Rewards members can explore the store’s ever-expanding 7-Eleven Brewed Coffee and hot beverage menu, which Hershey’s SKOR Hot Chocolate, Pumpkin Spice Latte, and the new Mexican Hacienda Miravalles Organic Coffee. 7-Eleven Brewed Coffee is ethically harvested, locally roasted and made of 100% Arabica beans.


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7-Eleven opens first mall location in the U.S.

7-Eleven debuted its first ever location in a U.S. shopping centre in Brandon Floria. last week, marking the first of seven mall stores to open this year, according to ABC Action News.

“This year we’ve opened new concept stores in sporting venues and airports to meet the convenience needs of our customers,” said Charles Bantos, 7-Eleven director of corporate development. “Our entry into shopping centers is aligned with our strategy of meeting customers when and where they most need us. Shoppers and mall employees alike can visit this 7-Eleven store to refuel with a quick snack, treat and drink, or grab one of the many meal-time options including sandwiches, salads, hot pizza, chicken tenders and entrées. 7-Eleven continues to redefine convenience for consumers, and Westfield Brandon Shopping Centre presented the perfect opportunity to make the leap into a multi-store shopping venue.”

“The addition of 7-Eleven at our centre caters to the daily needs of our guests,” said Katie Woolridge, senior shopping centre manager of Westfield Brandon. “By adding daily conveniences such as these, we continue to give our guests more reasons to visit while creating a fulfilling shopping experience.”

Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven operates, franchises and/or licenses more than 69,000 stores in 17 countries, including 11,800 in North America.


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7-Eleven Canada promo offers free hot beverages on the 7th and 11th of the month

Screen Shot 2019-09-11 at 1.21.23 PM7-Eleven Canada is running a new promotion designed to make it a go-to destination for hot beverage drinker: Registered 7Rewards members can get a free small hot beverages on the 7th and 11th of every month until the end of the year.

The promotion encourages consumers to sign up for the rewards app and visit their neighbourhood store to claim a free, fully customizable hot beverage ranging from Pumpkin Spice Latte to Hershey’s SKOR Hot Chocolate and Mexican Hacienda Miravalles Organic Coffee, as well as the popular Rainforest Alliance Certified 100% Caldas Colombian Coffee, and come November, the Peppermint Mocha.

With no extra charge for endless customizations at the 7-Eleven coffee bar, customers can make their beverage exactly how they like. 7-Eleven is emphasizing that its premium 100% Arabica beans that are hand-picked, ethically sourced, and small-batch roasted locally to ensure a more consistent and fresher cup of coffee.

The convenience retailer is looking to compete in the coffee wars and attract busy consumers. In a release the company said: “With the added benefit of no lineups, customers can quickly grab a hot beverage while on the go.”


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7-Eleven teams up with Microsoft to empower field employees

7-Eleven Inc. is using modern workplace solutions, data services and devices from Microsoft to empower field employees and provide better business insight to franchisees.

The convenience store operator is equipping these field employees, who serve as the connection between headquarters and its franchisees, with Microsoft Surface devices that use Microsoft 365 and Power BI.

This provides franchisees with better insight from corporate into their store’s performance, purchase trends and other data to help them grow their business.

“Franchisees have a significant role to play in our transformation, and empowering them with the right information is critical,” said Gurmeet Singh, 7-Eleven executive vice president, chief digital, chief information and chief marketing officer. “Our collaboration with Microsoft enables us to get data out to Franchisees through our field employees that they can use to make better business decisions.”

Power BI dashboards help field employees to spot trends and visualize insights from point-of-sale data stored and analyzed by Azure Data Lake and Azure SQL Data Warehouse. This enables them to recommend actions to franchisees, boosting sales and ensuring the right products are stocked to meet customer demand, the company said.

Additionally, franchisees can take pictures of their store’s schematics using the Surface camera, which allows them to quickly identify differences from the planogram that they can use to analyze sales opportunities.

“Unlocking the power of data is the key to reinventing the future and delivering amazing customer experiences in the retail industry,” said Shelley Bransten, corporate vice president of worldwide retail and consumer goods industries, Microsoft Corp. “We’re thrilled to empower 7-Eleven’s field and franchisees with the services, knowledge and devices to innovate on behalf of their customers wherever they are in their shopper journey.”

Field employees will be able to use Surface as their mobile office; use Microsoft OneDrive to give them real-time access to the latest corporate assets; and use Microsoft Intune to provide the security capabilities needed for a mobile workforce, with the ability to remotely manage devices and protect data.

7-Eleven is also migrating its infrastructure to Azure and leveraging advanced technologies such as AI to power enhanced customer experiences. The companies expect to apply future collaborations across intelligent and emerging technologies such as AI, data analytics and blockchain to drive even greater insight, efficiencies and customer experiences across its business, the convenience retailer announced.

Irving-based 7-Eleven operates, franchises and/or licenses more than 68,000 stores in 17 countries, including 11,800 in North America.

Originally published at Convenience Store News.


7-Eleven Canada Beyond Meat Pizza (CNW Group/7-Eleven Canada)

7-Eleven adds Beyond Meat Pizza to menu

7-Eleven Canada Beyond Meat Pizza (CNW Group/7-Eleven Canada)

7-Eleven Canada Beyond Meat Pizza (CNW Group/7-Eleven Canada)

Capitalizing on the latest culinary trend, 7-Eleven Canada is adding a Beyond Meat Pizza to its Hot to Go menu.

Packed with 100% plant-based Italian Sausage Crumbles, customers can now enjoy the Beyond Sausage and Roasted Veggie Pizza in select Urban Toronto 7-Eleven locations.

Canadians are shifting their food habits and attitudes towards more sustainable and humanitarian products.

“By expanding the fresh food assortment offered to our customers, we hope to provide options for every preference,” Doug Rosencrans, VP and general manager of 7-Eleven Canada, said in a release. “Beyond Meat has created excitement around plant-based protein alternatives and with the introduction of the Beyond Sausage and Roasted Veggie Pizza, we are providing our customers with what they want.”

Consumers can get it hot from the oven 24/7 in-store, or take it home to bake. Delivery is available from select stores by Foodora or Uber Eats.

“This partnership marks our entrance into the c-store category and an exciting opportunity to partner with one of the largest global brands,” said Chuck Muth, chief growth officer at Beyond Meat. “Accessibility is a top priority for us and 7-Eleven Canada locations, from urban to rural, are a prominent fixture in all communities.”

To promote its new Beyond Sausage and Roasted Veggie Pizza, 7-Eleven is offering free samples at select Urban Toronto stores every Monday and Friday between August 26th and September 13th.