7-Eleven Hopes to Key Into New York State of Mind

Retailer seeks to win over tough crowd with urban amenities

7-Eleven Manahattan Amazon Locker

NEW YORK -- New Yorkers have been especially scornful of 7-Eleven, according to Crain's New York Business. But the convenience store chain is aiming to win over the tough crowd by adding amenities tailor-made for urbanites.

"We have to stay on top of what the consumer wants," 7-Eleven spokesperson Margaret Chabris told the news outlet. "Our ultimate goal is to provide products and services that solve the everyday problems for our customers in making their lives better."

The company is betting that customer is in Manhattan. Though the chain has been in the outer boroughs for decades, it wasn't until 2011 that it began an aggressive push into New York County. Since then, 7-Eleven has more than quadrupled its count, going from eight to 37 Manhattan locations. In the past six months alone, it has opened five new stores.

Among the initiative it launched to lure in locals, the retailer began testing Amazon Lockers in April 2012, and expanded the concept to eight Manhattan stores, where customers can pick up packages of any shape or size whenever they want.

"When a retailer comes to New York City, you have to win over the city and earn your spot--you can't just come in with your normal concept," Mike Duda, CEO of brand creative agency Johannes Leonardo, told Crain's. "Utilities like the Amazon Locker and other things are something smart and extra that you can't get somewhere else."

The company is also testing KeyMe, which operates digital key-making kiosks. The kiosks are now in four 7-Eleven stores, where KeyMe pays to operate its four-square-foot space, and both companies are open to discussion about expansion. In six months, customers have scanned several thousand keys and solved more than 1,500 lockouts, said the report.

"Urban store development is a big focus for us," said Chabris. "There's lots of opportunity."

7-Eleven, Dallas, operates approximately 51,700 convenience stores in 16 countries. During 2012, 7-Eleven stores generated total worldwide sales close to $84.8 billion.

Click here to view the full Crain's report.