Learning from 7-Eleven’s Tech Transformation

You REALLY do not know who your customers are unless you know who they are and 7-Eleven learned this lesson the hard way, Business 2.0’s Elizabeth’s Esfahani writes.
Although I’m about as geeky as you can get, I firmly believe that unless one understands the “business” problem in a business, there’s no need to try to get a technology solution. 7-Eleven’s problem was that they did not know their customers. Furthermore, their store managers were not empowered to localize store products and customize them for THEIR customers. They found a technology solution.
It’s a long story, but the bottom line is that 7-Eleven’s store managers, akin to the successful Dell model, can access 7-Eleven’s computer system and see what products are HOT and what products are not. The products that are not selling can be shifted to other portions of the store or not sold. HOT items can be given the appropriate attention they need. Is it going to rain? There’s even a tool to help 7-Eleven store managers order umbrellas in anticipation of the demand.
One of the greatest assets every 7-Eleven store manager has is an NEC handheld designed exclusively for the retailer. With this handheld, retailers can quickly calculate, “what’s HOT and what’s NOT” and place orders for the precise number of items they need. Each morning by 5:00am each store is fully stocked.
This new technology enables 7-Eleven to be data driven and tell their large suppliers what’s best. Instead of a supplier telling 7-Eleven what’s the best selling product, 7-Eleven, with its superior technology can tell the vendor exactly what its customer wants – just like Wal-Mart.
Finaly, being able to spot sales trends enables 7-Eleven to come out with new products specifically designed for its customers. For example, regular hand wipes were not a big sales item, but a specially designed wipe that takes our coffee stains was a HUGE seller. 7-Eleven brews 10,000 pots of coffee an hour.
What does this mean for your business? Business intelligence and KNOWING who your customers are, is MOST important. If you don’t know your customers and WHAT THEY want you could be losing money, buying or designing products that your customers are not interested in, not selling products to them that they REALLY want. By properly investing in technology and USING THE DATA CORRECTLY you could increase not just your revenue but your margins. Read the full Business 2.0 article