By David Bennett, Senior Editor
As convenience retailers labor to distinguish their foodservice program, some c-stores have added off-site delivery as part of the package.
For example, Wawa Inc. recently announced the company will be delivering to select locations in New Jersey through its partnership with Grubhub. Arguably, the chain with the most developed delivery vehicle on the road is Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven Inc. The largest chain in the industry really got rolling when it partnered with Postmates in the summer of 2015 and hasn’t turned back since. CSD recently asked Gurmeet Singh, 7-Eleven’s chief digital officer and chief information officer to explain where the company’s foodservice delivery plans are now directed.
CSD: 7-Eleven recently partnered with Postmates for additional exposure in the delivery industry. Can you share more information about the partnership and any success it has had with customers thus far?
Gurmeet Singh (GS): Approximately 50% of the U.S. population lives within one mile of a 7-Eleven store, which perfectly positions 7-Eleven to deliver what customers need when and where they want it. 7-Eleven has been testing a variety of delivery options to give customers what they want: effortless convenience.
We recently expanded our partnership with Postmates to include more than 30 of the metro areas in which 7-Eleven operates stores. In November, we celebrated our enhanced collaboration by offering customers free delivery when they place a 7-Eleven order via the Postmates app. Postmates is an important collaboration as they are also powering the delivery component behind the 7-ElevenNOW app. We will continue to collaborate with Postmates and other food delivery services to provide our customers with the more convenient and valuable experience.
CSD: As 7-Eleven has expanded its product assortment of fresher and healthier food and beverage offerings in the last few years, has the delivery program aided that effort in reaching more customers with such offerings?
GS: Today, it is clear customers are increasingly looking for quality, freshness, differentiation and value along with healthy options. However, our customers are not looking for extremes; they are searching for mainstream options that do not compromise taste or freshness.
Customers using the 7-ElevenNOW app for either delivery or pick-up can order from a breadth of options, making their delivery experience even more convenient. We offer different varieties of food for our different varieties of customers. App users can order bananas, fruit blends, salads, juices and granola bars, or they can request products from gummy bears, to ice cream, to a phone charger all in one order. We began a test for the 7-ElevenNOW app in Dallas and look forward to bringing it to more customers in 2018.
CSD: Around the same time, 7-Eleven made headlines by achieving one of the first Federal Aviation Administration-sanctioned drone delivery in the U.S. Two deliveries were completed from a 7 Eleven store to a local customer’s house in Reno, Nev. How did this futuristic feat come about?
GS: 7-Eleven has implemented a culture of continued innovation that has met consumers’ needs for over 90 years. We will continue the legacy of innovation that 7-Eleven has pioneered through digital transformation; delivering new and delightful experiences to customers.
7-Eleven customers have demanding schedules, are on the go 24/7, are time starved, and turn to us to for convenience. We are always looking for new ways to deliver the products and services they need, whenever and wherever they need them. Our delivery efforts create opportunities to redefine convenience.
CSD: Was this trial just an experiment, or is the company confident that its expanding delivery platform will include drones, going forward?
GS: We will continue to explore drone delivery as government regulations evolve.
CSD: Moving from one technology to another, please explain how the new “7-ElevenNOW” app will complement the company’s foodservice agenda?
GS: We know customers are looking for more variety than ever before, and they are visiting fewer stores. We also know that whatever we offer should be well-suited for our busy customers, eating on the go. We believe we are uniquely positioned to meet their needs given our convenient location and variety of food options including better-for-you products.
That’s why at 7-Eleven, we want to redefine convenience through software. We strive to be in the ecosystem of our customers in order to serve their needs in an effortless way. With the 7-ElevenNOW app, customers in the Dallas area can expect a real-time view into available inventory, deliver beer to their door or have wine prepped for pick-up, and even earn 7-Eleven reward points. The new app allows us to reach our customers in a seamless, effortless and delightful way.
CSD: With the app, customers can have snacks, hot food, and beverages delivered anywhere, but for now, the service is available primarily in central Texas. Are there plans to roll out the service to more U.S. locations in 2018?
GS: We are currently testing 7-ElevenNOW in 10 store locations in the Dallas/Uptown market and we look forward to bringing this unique service to more customers in 2018.