PASADENA, Calif. -- 7-Eleven is using technology to control its own destiny, said James Keyes, president and chief executive officer of the convenience-store chain.
"By 1991, we had stopped innovating," Keyes said. "With only 2,000 square feet per store and no retail initiatives, we were selling shelf space to manufacturers, but we weren't growing anymore.
"We were letting manufacturers make all product decisions, letting distributors determine the cost of goods and the assortments we carried, letting re-sellers make ordering and replenishment decisions, while all we did was ring up the sales.
"But using technology has given us access to better data and empowered us to make our own decisions."
Keyes spoke here last month during a keynote presentation at the Executive Technology/Supermarket News Summit.
"Now the customer gets want he wants; we make decisions on ordering and product assortments based on what our data tells us customers want to buy; distributors consolidate and distribute goods at the lowest costs and manufacturers collaborate with the company to develop new products."
7-Eleven has traditionally sold money orders and made automated teller machines available, but it now plans to expand its financial service offerings "by creating virtual commerce malls in a three-foot footprint that enables customers to hook up to an Internet portal," Keyes said.
He said 7-Eleven hopes to begin installing three financial centers per store shortly.
In other comments, Keyes said the company is attempting to expand its fresh food offerings, "but direct-store-delivery companies are so entrenched that it's taking us longer than we'd hoped to build a daily distribution infrastructure. We project it will take us two more years to finish putting together a fresh distribution system."