7-Eleven Readies for RFID

CIO outlines strategy behind contactless technology push

DALLAS -- I understand how technology drives business growth and builds competitive advantage. That's how 7-Eleven chief information officer, Keith Morrow, begins an extensive piece he wrote for Optimize magazine, a business strategy publication aimed at CIOs.

In the piece, Morrow notes that in 2004, Dallas-based 7-Eleven spent $93 million on technology, enabling improvements in retail information systems, simplified store processes, upgraded training tools, better analysis and forecasting capabilities, and increased management reporting. These [image-nocss] strategic initiatives are integral pieces of our business, championed by senior management.

Morrow outlines the convenience store giant's latest initiative, a contactless payment option, while noting how the system keeps to 7-Eleven's corporate tradition. It satisfies a business need and improves the customer experience, he writes. While it relies on sophisticated technology, this program is simply an extension of our fundamental business philosophy; we sell convenience, and we believe that contactless payment is the ultimate in convenience.

Meanwhile, Morrow notes that this year, 7-Eleven stores are adding two new mobility tools so store operators can more efficiently collect inventory information and order products in a wireless environment. By connecting to a secured wireless-access point in the back office, employees can review product information, update inventory and place an order for goods from any location in the store, he writes. The goal is to increase sales turns by optimizing inventory management. Additionally, by spending less time in the back office, employees can interact more with customers and help identify consumer trends.

The tools making all this possible include the MC3000 handheld scanner from Symbol Technologies, based in Holtsville, N.Y., and a Mobile Operations Terminal from NEC, New York. Together, the tools will help automate many of the store's day-to-day tasks and improve ordering efficiencies, Morrow wrote. Plans call for a rollout to all U.S. and Canadian stores this summer and it's expected to be complete by December.

To view the entire Optimize story, please click here.