Australia’s largest convenience chain, 7-Eleven, is a well-established franchisor that started in 1977. The company now has more than 680 stores across Victoria, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Queensland and Western Australia.

According to Stephen Eyears, 7-Eleven head of innovation, strategy and business development, the result is a reflection of the company’s commitment to investing in innovation to support sustainable store-growth.

“Customer needs are constantly evolving. To stay relevant businesses have to continually try new things and look for new opportunities for growth,” Eyears said.

7-Eleven has a dedicated innovation and business development team who are focused on supporting the business to identify, trial and assess new offers and help to bring these projects to market.

“One of the benefits to being part of a brand like 7-Eleven is that the company invests in innovation and trials to ensure that new offers are fully tested before they roll out to all stores. Under the 7-Eleven model, we fund development, refurbishments and new equipment. So we can invest what’s needed if we think an idea has potential, and then both ourselves and our franchisee partners benefit from the incremental growth the idea can deliver,” he said.

Eyears said that it’s important to go into innovation with the mindset that not everything will be a 100 per cent success.

“Being committed to innovation means you have to try lots of things, and know that a percentage of the things you try won’t work. It’s about being agile in the testing phases, adapting during the trial to test variables, and ensuring you have the data you need at the end,” Eyears said.

“Trials need to have clear goals and measurements so you can make informed decisions to assess what concepts merit further development and testing, which need to move to business case and roll out, and which should be archived. The latest innovation being trialled and rolled out in stores is 7-Eleven Parcelmate.”

7-Eleven Parcelmate is a technology led parcel services solution that leverages the company’s network of more than 680 convenient locations and 24 hour, 365 days a year operation, to provide customers with parcel services when and where they want them.

“From our research, there is real customer demand for more choice and reliability in parcel services. Our customers are looking for ways get more out of life, and being able to choose a convenient location for parcel pick up at a time that suits them will be a compelling addition to the offer available in our stores,” Eyears said.

Thanks to its innovative technology platform, 7-Eleven’s Parcelmate parcel collection service is carrier neutral, resulting in not only convenience for customers, but has potential to generate more customer traffic into stores.

“Our investment in a technology led solution allows us to make our 7-Eleven Parcelmate service even more convenient by working with parcel service providers worldwide and other businesses, to allow them to use our service for their customers. We are looking forward to working with a range of parcel services providers to provide a new way for them to efficiently meet the needs of their customers. 7-Eleven Parcelmate is rolling out to approximately 400 stores in 2018/2019 and we will continue to look for opportunities to evolve the offer,” he said.

One of the company’s innovations which is now well-established is the world first fuel app which was launched in 2016. The app lets customers lock in their best 7-Eleven local fuel price, and redeem it at any 7-Eleven store Australia wide within seven days.

“We wanted to give our customers more reasons to choose to shop in our stores, and we knew Australian consumers wanted to have more control over the price they pay for fuel. We made a significant investment in developing this app and integrating it with our point of sale and other relevant systems,” Eyears said.

“The app also has digital offers and digital wallet capability to drive incremental transactions in store. Since its launch, the app has been downloaded by more than 1.28m customers. In 2018, customers have saved $3.8m on their fuel using the app, with an average saving of more than 12 cents per litre. This is a really good example of innovation adding value to our franchisees and our business overall.”

Extracted from Franchise Business