Amid digital evolution, 7-Eleven is thinking more about store formats to dish post-COVID convenience

Chief executive Angus McKay shares his latest thoughts on customer experience and the chain’s goal to own new dayparts.

7-Eleven Australia’s chief executive said the chain’s exploration of store formats will remain a focus this year, as they anticipate the nature of convenience to rapidly change within the next decade.

“There’s lots of questions as we learn more about where our customers want us to be. Is it train stations, in offices, delivering to homes, delivering to the local park or beach, or being present in more regional communities? It’s going to be fascinating to see the evolution in the channel,” Angus McKay told QSR Media.

The 700-plus strong convenience chain is looking towards its app, delivery service and e-Commerce platform the first steps to answer these questions “at a more personal level”, he said. Basket size, for example, is “significantly higher” for delivery customers compared to those in-store.

“[T]hat sort of start-up/industry disrupter innovation is exciting to be part of,” he said.

McKay’s thoughts on format exploration has been echoed by 7-Eleven’s counterparts in the U.S., which recently launched drive-thrus, and is now even housing restaurant concepts as part of its Evolution store model - with executive vice president and chief operating officer Chris Tancosome saying it was a response to seeing “opportunity...in the QSR space.”  

“Convenience is going to evolve rapidly over the next ten years, whether that be through drive-throughs like they’ve launched in Texas, or concepts like our own micromarket that can service large workplaces with a digitally enabled self-serve offer,” McKay said.

Changing customer mindsets on food-to-go
7-Eleven is also looking to improve their food-to-go and coffee offering, whilst looking to get a bite of other dayparts. The chain is already selling more than 80 million cups annually.

“We want to change customer mindsets about the quality and value they can get for food on the go in convenience for breakfast, lunch and dinner and every snack or treat in between,” he said.

“While we’re going to continue to invest in pushing the boundaries to grow coffee in our stores, we’re also looking for the next day parts we can really build and own.”

As the country moves into more normal ways of working, McKay says it is too early to determine which customer behaviour patterns will stick around or not in the long-term.

‘We need to be quicker’
There are different speeds in performance depending on state, and for suburban versus CBD locations. While CBD customer traffic patterns are improving, there are still some changes in customer behaviour that are sticking,” he explained.

As a result, what will stay at the forefront of McKay’s mind in the next six to 12 months will continue to be the customer, he said. Part of it is transitioning the way they work to better enable innovation and outcomes.

“To be able to adapt as our market changes at a pace faster than it ever has, we need to be quicker and more effective about meeting their needs...Convenience is about giving our customers what they want, when and where they want it, and as a team we’re incredibly excited about what we’ve got planned to launch in the next 12 months.”

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