Forget the drive-through, 7-Eleven customers can now get merchandise delivered to their doorstep.
By Erin Rigik, Senior Editor
Convenience store behemoth 7-Eleven recently announced a strategic initiative to make its c-store offerings even more convenient to customers.
In July, 7-Eleven announced it had partnered with technology and logistics company Postmates to offer on-demand delivery in Austin, Texas and San Francisco, marking the company’s first foray into the on-demand economy.
This past September, 7-Eleven announced a partnership with DoorDash to provide on-demand delivery to customers from participating 7-Eleven stores in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, and soon Washington D.C. and Boston. Shoppers can order products from their local 7-Eleven and have it delivered to wherever they want.
The move toward on-demand delivery ties into 7-Eleven’s omnichannel strategy to provide time-pressed customers with shopping solutions. It’s expected to appeal to those who want on-the-go convenience, but prefer more options than just driving to the local c-store.
The partnership with 7-Eleven marks DoorDash’s first partnership outside of restaurant delivery. The partnership includes in-store marketing, local promotions and the availability of “Convenience Packs” or groups of products that make purchasing common items from 7-Eleven stores more convenient. For a limited period, the delivery service fee is $2.99. Customers can download the DoorDash app for iOS or Android or visit the Door Dash Website to use the service.
“This partnership between the world’s largest convenience store chain and a leading on-demand delivery start-up can redefine convenience,” said Raja Doddala, 7-Eleven’s vice president of innovation and omnichannel strategy, in a prepared statement. “DoorDash’s technology, data analytics and commitment to the customer experience impresses us and makes them a great match for 7- Eleven’s omnichannel initiatives.”
In Austin and San Francisco, customers can download the Postmates app through an iOS, Android or Web app operated by Postmates, and select the 7-Eleven products they want to order. Postmates then arranges for the delivery from the most convenient outlet to fulfill the customer’s order within an hour. Customers can order anything from hot foods to snacks to cold beverages to convenience items.
“7-Eleven’s founder, Joe C. Thompson Jr., used to say 7-Eleven’s mission was to ‘give customers what they want, when and where they want it,’” said Doddala. “Through the modern technology that Postmates provides, we can fulfill that promise in a way we haven’t done before.”
This move into delivery by 7-Eleven is no surprise given how technology is changing the way retailers in all channels are doing business.
“The development and adoption of new technologies like smartphones and mobile applications are enabling this evolution (toward on-demand convenience) to occur,” said David Bishop, managing partner for Balvor LLC, a retailing consultancy based in Barrington, Ill. “A retailer’s desire to thrive or survive in a changing environment is adapting our view of what shopping is in various ways. Competitive pressures from other retailers—some of which weren’t around too long ago—are also a motivating factor.”
Other retailers are likely to respond. However, Bishop noted that doesn’t mean everyone is going to start offering on-demand delivery. It could mean competitors will look to other strategies in which they can better connect with customer and meet their needs for convenience, much the way we’ve seen retailers respond to the demand for foodservice with a variety of different strategies.
7-Eleven’s approach is not without challenges and surely isn’t the right fit for every chain. “One of the main challenges of the on-demand delivery is being able to reconcile what consumers want, with what’s in the store on a real-time basis,” Bishop said. Time will tell how 7-Eleven is able to succeed in meeting consumers’ real-time demand.
As 7-Eleven pointed out, omnichannel, or a multi-channel approach to sales—from the Internet to smartphones to physical store sites—is a major part of the chain’s strategy.
“The term ‘ominchannel’ to me connotes a forward-leaning view of better connecting with today’s consumers,” Bishop said. “That’s important as what ‘omnichannel’ means to a convenience retailer may differ from the view held by a supermarket. The commonality lies in the goal of helping give consumers what they want, when they want it and how they want it.”