IRVING, Texas -- With the increased prominence of on-demand services such as GoPuff or Amazon Prime Now, brick-and-mortar retailers are increasingly asking themselves a common question: Will consumers still travel to my store to buy my products when they can have them delivered to their door?
For 7-Eleven Inc. CEO Joe DePinto, the answer is yes, as long as the retail strategy is done right.
Here are four insights from a recent Dallas Morning News article on how 7-Eleven is answering the changing world of retail …
Get 'em while they’re young
“[Millennials] see the convenience store as a place where they can pick up a good sandwich,” said Jeff Lenard, vice president of NACS. “Older generations think of the bathroom key attached to an old hubcap or a block of wood. That’s not as appealing.”
7-Eleven's experience backs up that statement, according to the article. “More than 50% of 7-Eleven’s customers are millennials,” the article said, and “group orders from dorms and office workers are popular with a generation that grew up with Slurpees."
Technomic data also suggests there's some truth to the claim. An October C-Store Market Intelligence Report indicates that 89% of millennials purchase hot foods from c-stores at least once a month. Where 7-Eleven is concerned, millennials generally have a different impression of c-stores than their older peers.
Keep it healthy, except when it’s not
These days, consumers seem to want healthy food options when they go out more and more, until they reach their food retailer of choice. Suddenly, something switches and consumers decide that a big, cheese-covered hot dog is what they really want.
The article points out that “it’s possible to be on a diet and eat at 7-Eleven,” and when DePinto considers what consumers are looking for, “he’s focused on what you want to eat when you’re dieting and when you want to splurge.”
The fact is, even kale-loving, dairy-free millennials dream of chowing down on giant chocolate desserts, too. It might be wise to give them the opportunity to let their wild side loose once in a while.
People still go out, you know
It’s often suggested that Americans are becoming increasingly anti-social, preferring to stay at home, curl up with their smartphones and order food and other goods straight to their door to avoid braving the outside world.
But that’s not entirely true. As Craig Rosenblum, senior director at food retail consultancy Willard Bishop, said, “As long as we don’t all become hermits, there will always be a need to get out, get gas and grab something to go.”
What’s important to keep in mind is that, whether consumers are at home or out in the world, their eating habits are changing. As far as DePinto is concerned, “the traditional three-meals-a-day has been going away. More than 40% of adults are eating alone and on the go.”
Test the tech waters
While Amazon is making waves with the announcement of its no-lines, no-checkout c-store, the Dallas Morning News article points out that 7-Eleven is “testing self-checkout with its employees at a store on the ground floor of its new corporate headquarters.”
The article also touches on drone delivery, saying that it’s “one of those ideas that [7-Eleven’s] tested but isn’t dwelling on.”
Whether or not 7-Eleven plans to expand self-checkout and drone delivery is unclear. What is clear is that it’s exploring the technology, and c-store operators looking to stay competitive should also explore technology that blurs the line between c-stores and on-demand retailers.