7-Eleven takes a big gulp of customer data

The ubiquitous convenience store chain updates its loyalty program from punch cards to a mobile app for super-frequent patrons

7-Eleven may be one of the most recognized convenience store brands in the world--and it's definitely the largest, with more than 56,000 locations worldwide. But until recently, the company knew nothing at all about its individual customers, who typically pay with cash.

The 88-year-old retail chain began work on its first digital customer loyalty platform for the U.S. in 2012. Previously, some franchisees had run their own loyalty programs--usually involving old-school punch cards. "But more and more of our customers were digital and mobile, and they felt the experience should be the same from store to store," explains Robert McClarin, loyalty CRM marketing technologist at 7-Eleven.

First, 7-Eleven's leadership committee (representing operations, marketing, merchandising and IT) discussed what they wanted to accomplish, with input from franchisees. Then, in 2013, the company worked with Teradata (a data management vendor) and Brierley+Partners (a loyalty program creator) to build a CRM system integrating transactional data with customer segmentation.

Last fall, they launched the consumer-facing part of the loyalty program: the 7Rewards mobile app, which assigns each customer a unique ID and bar code. The rollout began with 100 stores in Washington, D.C., and was completed nationwide in March.

The first target: beverage buyers, an obvious choice, given that 7-Eleven in 1964 became the first company to offer coffee to go and has been selling the Slurpee since 1965 and the Big Gulp since 1976. Today, more than 60 percent of its patrons grab some sort of liquid refreshment. The app gives them a seventh cup free after they purchase any six beverages.

The system enables 7-Eleven to tailor offers to specific customers in specific situations. "We take a look at what you buy, what you don't buy, offers you redeem and don't, the time of day, and even the temperature, and bake it all into an experience for you," says McClarin. One goal is to encourage customers to come in at different times--for example, luring frequent Big Gulp purchasers with a free snack, or offering morning coffee drinkers a free afternoon pick-me-up. "It's pretty easy to see what's going to motivate people," says McClarin. "The data scientists work their magic and that helps us be smarter about our offers."

A big challenge was tying Teradata's Real-Time Interaction Manager to 8,500 point-of-sale systems so they could communicate in real time, a problem solved with an enterprise service bus. "A lot of loyalty programs are based on batch [processing]," McClarin says. "We wanted to know immediately what was going on with a customer so we can thank them in real time."

7-Eleven is giving away more free beverages than ever before, but it's also selling more total units and the overall per-visit purchase is higher for 7Rewards members than non-members. The loyalty program also created a new way to collect customer opinions about stores, products and services. "The ability to survey members and get immediate feedback has been huge," McClarin says. "It's true customer engagement."

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

Disruption Down Under – What’s Amazon’s real competitive advantage?

Savvy shoppers wait in anticipation, while Australian retailers are gearing up for the onslaught. Amazon’s arrival is imminent.

Change across the board: Why boards need to digitally evolve

Traditionally the non-executive board of a company acts in an advisory capacity - attending monthly board meetings to offer overarching advice and guidance typically focusing on:

Jodie Sangster

CEO, ADMA

The most desirable customers you’ve overlooked

“What will really move the needle?” This is a question that keeps leaders awake at night. And at the intersection of some of their top priorities – finding pockets of growth, redefining the customer experience, and making an emotional impact – lies a latent market: Their diverse customers.

Really inspiring !

Goldenboy Media

Jaywing sets sights on Australian growth with digital and data-driven agency model

Read more

Being aware of regulations or guidlines is just the start. As our CEO Emma Lo Russo stated exactly two weeks ago at an event we supported...

Alan Smith

​Are the Wild West days of influencer collaboration over?

Read more

Rebranding is always nice solution to get better organisation. Businessman may apply certain special services (for example, https://www.l...

David Hill

CMO interview: Spearheading the global rebranding of OFX

Read more

Thank you so much for sharing this article.Top Digital Marketing company in Bangalore

Way To DM

Predictions: 17 digital marketing trends for 2017

Read more

Thanks for the great article Jodie, agree many boards and senior execs are operating in outdated modes, just as we need some reverse soci...

sharyn

Change across the board: Why boards need to digitally evolve - Data-driven marketing - CMO Australia

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in