7-Eleven Continues Reinventing Convenience

7-Eleven Inc., the world’s largest operator, franchisor and licensor of convenience stores, was named Chain of the Year in 2005. The stores got their iconic name in the 1940s because they were open from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m., which was considered extended hours in those days.

By the ‘60s, lifestyles were changing, and consumers needed products and services around the clock. In 1962, 7-Eleven launched the 24-hour retailing concept when a store near an Austin, Texas, university campus stayed open one Saturday night to serve the after-football-game crowd. Soon, 7-Eleven had 24-hour locations in Dallas; Fort Worth, Texas; and Las Vegas, and eventually those hours were adopted companywide.

Today, the company continues to focus on meeting the needs of busy customers by providing a wide selection of fresh, high-quality products, plus well-known brands like Big Bite hot dogs, Big Gulp fountain soft drinks and Slurpee frozen beverages. To keep customers coming back, the company works with its fresh food partners to develop new menu offerings. All are carefully tested in 7-Eleven kitchens before being placed on store shelves.

Currently, the company is rolling out a new hot foods lineup and expanding its menu. By year’s end, 1,700 stores will offer hot foods.

Each store team is responsible for ordering the appropriate items on a daily basis, a task made easier by 7-Eleven’s proprietary retail information system, which has been refined and upgraded over the past 15 years. By effectively using the stores’ point-of-sale cash register and in-store processor, franchisees and store employees have access to the timely information necessary for making informed ordering decisions by store, by day and day-part and by item. Additionally, the system provides information to help store operators decide when to delete slow-moving items and how to make more room for the newest products.

Distributing the Goods
7-Eleven arranges for the majority of store deliveries—including fresh foods and pastries—to go through one of the regional combined distribution centers that serve area stores. By combining all products into a single delivery, the CDC eliminates redundancies in the delivery chain.

“Customers today may be time-crunched, but they still insist on good-tasting food that is fresh,” said Dennis Phelps, the chain’s vice president of fresh foods. “7-Eleven has a unique and sophisticated infrastructure. A majority of our products, such as top-quality fresh foods, are delivered to the CDC and almost immediately picked for distribution to individual stores, based on each store’s daily order and customer needs.”

The company is growing its store count through its new business conversion program that allows retailers to convert their existing stores to a 7-Eleven franchise and to benefit from the scale of the company and the strength of the brand. The leasing program permits jobbers to supply their own brand of fuel to the store, while 7-Eleven handles the retail business.

7-Eleven provides verified processes, merchandising know-how and a proprietary back-office support system, while supplying franchisees with Slurpee, Big Gulp and other branded products that have made 7-Eleven a household name.

7-Eleven became a wholly owned subsidiary of Seven-Eleven Japan Co., Ltd. in Tokyo, Japan, and its affiliates in 2005. Based in Dallas, Texas, the company operates, franchises and licenses more than 6,800 stores in the U.S. and Canada. Franchisees operate 4,400 of 7-Eleven’s U.S. stores. Internationally, 7-Eleven licenses close to 28,800 units.

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