When customers pulled up to their local 7-Eleven store this Labor Day holiday weekend, the individual store managers and the corporate directors of the convenience store chain were confident they were quickly sending those individuals on their way with the specific products they needed.
That assurance comes in part due to latest step in a multiyear effort by 7-Eleven to streamline and more efficiently run its thousands of stores, including the recently completed installation of Hewlett-Packard servers and networking switches in each store location.
The rollout, which took place over the past eight months, is part of a five-year, $55 million agreement between the two companies aimed at supporting 7-Eleven's Retail Information System, a product traffic-management process that lets individual store operators specify inventory for reordering to meet varying needs in the different geographic regions where the stores are located.
Perhaps even more important to 7-Eleven CIO Keith Morrow, the platform provides a foundation that can adapt to the changing needs of its customers. "What's convenient today for customers is going to be different tomorrow," he said. "We feel we now have the horsepower and base capabilities for a number of years to come."
7-Eleven has 3,300 franchise-owned stores and 2,500 company-owned stores, each of which keeps about 2,500 items in stock. But products that are big sellers in New York may not meet the tastes of customers in Texas or California. Individual store owners or managers are the best judges of what best serves their customers, Morrow said, and its retail information system is aimed at putting the decision-making power in their hands.