CHICAGO — In the race for relevance, as c-store foodservice offerings evolve, so do the amenities to get that food into consumers’ hands.
7-Eleven, Irving, Texas, is leading the charge in convenience retail toward offering more tech amenities. The chain’s 7Now app, which allows customers to order in-store items for delivery, is available in 28 major markets and reaches 23 million households in more than 200 cities.
And 7-Eleven has gone one step further by introducing “pins” to 7Now, which allow customers to order items for delivery from almost anywhere, even if the location does not have a fixed address.
The chain’s tech innovation is not limited to delivery: 7-Eleven recently introduced a mobile checkout option through the 7-Eleven app in New York after piloting the technology in a few Dallas locations in 2018.
The food ordering kiosks at Savannah, Ga.-based Parker’s convenience stores give customers customization options that “let people get exactly what they’re craving,” Davis says. This move reflects findings from the CSP-Technomic study, in which 38% of respondents said they currently offer touchscreen ordering kiosks for foodservice in most stores.
Parker’s is improving ease of access for consumers in other ways, too. Davis says 21 Parker’s locations partner with DoorDash for delivery, a couple of stores use Grubhub and one uses Uber Eats. “People are impatient: People want what they want now,” Davis says.
Parker’s does not offer everything on its menu for delivery, which Davis says is a strategic decision due to the intricacies of delivery. Parker’s offers most of its breakfast menu for delivery, but not customizable breakfast sandwiches.
The chain does not offer lunch menu items such as combos and deals, either. Davis says stores partnering with third-party delivery providers have to consider everything from the high cost to packaging options.
“People are impatient: People want what they want now.”
As Parker’s gives customers more access to its foodservice options, it’s also working to hold onto its human touch, despite the advance of technology.
“Technology creates a barrier between the store and the customer,” Davis says. “We’re putting a process in place to drive our team to engage with the customer—to engage them as if the kiosks weren’t there.” Davis and the team at Parker’s call this strategy “assisted checkout,” which ensures a human employee is always there to help customers. This practice makes the ordering process faster for customers, she says.