EVP, Chief Digital, Information and Marketing Officer at 7-Eleven, 7-Eleven
Next-Generation Customer Experience
7‑Eleven, Inc. is the premier name and largest chain in the convenience-retailing industry. Based in Irving, Texas, 7‑Eleven operates, franchises and/or licenses more than 68,000 stores in 17 countries, including 11,800 in North America. 7‑Eleven offers customers industry-leading private brand products under the 7-Select® brand including healthy options, decadent treats and everyday favorites, at an outstanding value. Customers can earn and redeem points on various items in stores nationwide through its 7Rewards® loyalty program, place an order in the 7NOW® delivery app in 28 participating markets, or rely on 7-Eleven for bill payments, self-service lockers and other convenient services.
- Just a couple of years ago, 7Rewards was a simple app with generic coupons and a cup-and-drink punch card. The program lacked 7-Eleven’s key principles of being customer obsessed and digitally enabled and was limited in terms of how customers could join and how they could engage. Customers only had one way to join 7Rewards, which was to download the 7-Eleven app. Once they signed up, the only rewards they could earn were a free beverage after purchasing other beverages. This was not enough for 7-Eleven or for Gurmeet.
By focusing on the customer benefits of simplicity, relevance and empowerment, the 7-Eleven Digital Technology team made several large changes to 7Rewards program. First, they increased the way customers could access the program - 7Rewards app, Mobile Web, Physical card, FB Messenger and most recently using the CFD (consumer facing display) in stores. They also increased how customers are rewarded for loyalty. Customers can earn points on all products in the stores (excluding age restricted), not just drinks, and redeem their earned points on various products based on what they like.
7-Eleven also introduced engaging augmented reality experiences within the app, letting customers interact with their favorite characters (Deadpool 2) and products (Reeses, Red Bull, Coca Cola) through interactive games while they earned points. This always-on AR development earned the brand an AWE Auggie Award in 2019.
- By leveraging the power of Big Data aggregation, via cloud-based data lakes and AI tools as well as customer analytics 7-Eleven is able to bring relevance to each customers with personalized offers and experiences. The7Rewards loyalty program provides valuable offers and fun experiences through Augmented Reality available to activate in store or out of store. The team takes advantage of an agile pod structure that allows for flexibility and agility to execute on a Mobile First approach that merges light weight and flexible apps and mobile web experiences with highly configurable and scalable application programing interfaces. This approach has led to a fully cloud native platform for significant scaling, enabling 7-Eleven to drive adoption and engagement with speed and without any fear of disruption. Performance monitoring and customer analytics allows for continuous improvement the customer experience and the underlying infrastructure.
- In 2018 7Rewards membership doubled from 9 million members to 18 million. The 7-Eleven app rating has skyrocketed on both iOS and Android to an industry-leading 4.8 (from 1.5 to 4.8 since launch). That number is constantly growing as 7-Eleven continues to revolutionize customer loyalty in an industry that traditionally has a very low switching cost. The 7REWARDS loyalty program is achieving incredible results in both customer participation and value for the thousands of Franchisees who rely on 7-Eleven to help grow their business. Some of the key wins to note include:
- Voted Top 5 Freestyle App in Google Play Store
- Voted Top 5 Food and Drink Category in Apple App Store
- The 7-Eleven app ratings skyrocketed on both iOS and Android systems to an industry leading 4.8 (1.5 to 4.8 since launch) and 4.5 respectively.
- Building a holistic partners ecosystem that provides value to customers as a singular ecosystem, e.g. co-op loyalty programs
- First-ever convenience store to build Augmented Reality experience that offers value to customer engagement
- Artificial Intelligence with sophisticated machine modeling strategy to build relevant offers for loyalty members
- Strategic Partnership with Veterans Advantage to offer special perks to Veterans Advantage members
- Scan & Pay shopping experience that enables customers to skip the line every time
- Integrated 2018 FIFA World Cup campaign partnering with Coca-Cola
The 7REWARDS program had a successful year in 2018. Membership doubled from 9 million members to 18 million. The 7-Eleven app rating has skyrocketed on both iOS and Android to an industry-leading 4.8 (from 1.5 to 4.8 since launch).
Most importantly, the 7REWARDS program continues to drive incremental revenue and traffic for 7-Eleven Franchisees.
Other accolades include:
- 2018 Loyalty 360 awards in the categories of Tech & Trendsand Top Marketer
- 2019 Auggie Awards for augmented reality best campaign
- Best global launch of Loyalty program in London
The Digital Technology Team takes advantage of an agile pod structure that allows for flexibility and agility to execute on a Mobile First approach that merges lightweight and flexible apps and mobile web experiences with highly configurable and scalable application programing interfaces. This approach has led to a fully cloud native platform for significant scaling, enabling us to drive adoption and engagement with speed and without any fear of disruption.
- 7-Eleven’s goal is to be “a customer obsessed and digitally enabled company” and continue to innovate on behalf of the customer to create solutions that meet changing expectations. Just a couple of years ago, 7Rewards was a simple app with generic coupons and a cup-and-drink punch card.
With so many loyalty programs already out there for customers, Gurmeet wanted to create a program that rewards every customer for nearly everything they buy, empowers them to choose how they use those rewards and tailors those rewards to each of their individual needs and preferences.The Digital Technology team’s intertwining of Augmented Reality and Loyalty, and resulting creation of interlocking customer journeys, does exactly this. Through 7Rewards, customers are rewarded for various types of in-store engagement as along with digital engagement beyond the store’s walls. For example, a customer can be rewarded with points for participating in one AR experience, while also being rewarded with exclusive AR content for sampling new products in store.
According to Gurmeet, while technology is key to driving new and delightful experiences for customers, it is a means to an end. As the aforementioned 7-Eleven results are making evident, understanding customer needs, personas and building great user experiences are the keys to long-term digital success.
7-Eleven was among the first convenience store retailers to implement an augmented reality program and create experiences that let customers engage out of store and in store. Via campaigns for the likes of PepsiCo, Dr. Pepper, Redbull, Reese’s and the Deadpool 2 franchise, the past year’s activity has had a manifold effect in increasing app downloads for the 7Rewards app and has helped deliver engagement, store visits, social sharing and sales for the brand and their partners.
About Your Organization
Based in Irving, Texas, 7‑Eleven operates, franchises and/or licenses more than 68,000 convenience stores in 17 countries, including 11,800 in North America. Customers can earn and redeem points on various items in stores nationwide through its 7Rewards® loyalty program, place an order in the 7NOW® delivery app in 28 participating markets.