IRVING, Texas -- Gurmeet Singh’s voice rises with excitement as he describes how 7-Eleven Inc.’s new chatbot increases the brand’s consumer engagement.
“Our consumers are increasingly connected, 24/7,” he told CSP Daily News. “They’re looking for value and convenience and are pressed for time, always checking social media, and want to interact with the brand to see what’s going on and what rewards they can get. The bot helps us provide this.”
The chatbot, released in mid-November, is one of the brand’s technology initiatives intended to “redefine convenience.” In doing so, the bot leverages Facebook Messenger for immediate convenience by providing consumers with a loyalty card without them having to sign up for one. Singh, the brand’s chief digital officer, said 7-Eleven has received positive consumer feedback regarding the bot, which aligns with the brand’s mission to delight customers in an effortless, seamless manner. The 90-year-old retailer also has plans for drone delivery, digital payments and even augmented virtual reality tests to drive and enhance the customer experience.
Singh said 7-Eleven is immersing itself in the consumer ecosystem to further redefine convenience. This means incorporating the brand into every touchpoint consumers have throughout the day, like their phones and cars, for instance. He attributes this immersion to the brand’s eagerness in stepping outside the box with its initiatives.
“We ask ourselves, ‘How can we create experiences of the future?’ ” he said. “The store plays an important role, but it’s not the whole equation. We look at the totality of the consumer ecosystem. That’s where our bot, social media and tech dive further.”
With more than 50% of the U.S. population living within a mile of a 7-Eleven location, according to Singh, consumer engagement starts in the store but increasingly spreads far beyond the brick-and-mortar locations. “This makes us think about how we can bring our store to [consumers],” he said. “How can we effortlessly bring these experiences to customers whenever and wherever they need us?”
The chatbot channels this approach by accessing the user’s location to provide nearby stores, as well as timely delivery service, which is available in more than 30 major cities.
Singh said he expects 7-Eleven to engage consumers more than ever as it alters the convenience-store landscape through tech innovation. He said focusing each initiative around consumers’ needs and current technology trends leads the brand on the path to this connection.
Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven Inc. operates, franchises and/or licenses more than 63,000 c-stores in 18 countries, including 10,900 in North America. It ranked No. 1 on CSP’s 2017 Top 202 list of the largest c-store chains in the United States.