With nearly 70,000 stores in 17 countries — and over 8,600 stores and franchises in the U.S. alone — 7-Eleven isn’t suffering from a lack of data. Gathering, combining, and using that data is the challenge that analysts at the international chain of convenience stores, founded in the U.S., were facing. With a fast-changing culture that was moving from making decisions based on experience to making decisions based on data, the ability to bring Big Data and Cloud together and act on it is critical to 7-Eleven’s continued success.
“7-Eleven is pivoting towards making convenience and digital come together, serving the customer with products and promotions based on data,” says Srikanth Nayani, director of digital analytics and verification on the digital analytics team at 7-Eleven. “We are very-much fact-based and data-driven, instead of presenting hypothesizes to solve problems. The culture is evolving and building around analytics every day.
Salesforce reports that marketers are using more data sources than ever — the average has jumped from 10 in 2017 to 15 in 2019 — and 7-Eleven is no exception. “We ultimately faced challenges with bringing our data sources on specific products and promotions together. We have many vendor data sources, and they were not flowing into one data lake together,” Nayani explains.
Worse, 7-Eleven was relying on various vendors to deliver reports, and there was often a delay that made 360-degree actionable insights difficult. “It’s not feasible to approach gathering insights that way. Our promotion and verification reports were being handled by different vendors, and we didn’t have a strong internal presence to provide fact-based guidance in data. We were depending on our vendors to tell us how we were performing, and there was a time lag in when they would get back to us. We didn’t have capability to slice and dice product and promotional needs to see what changes needed to occur.”
On the tax side, data glut and manual processes were issues as well. “From an operational perspective, we have a massive finance department handling all of our franchise data sources,” says Mohammad Millet, a senior tax technology manager on 7-Eleven’s tax and audit team. “We were leveraging low-tech approaches in automation like working mostly in Excel, which slowed down time to insight.”
“The ideal solution for us was something that a business user could use on a daily basis without much technical support,” Nayani explains. With stakeholders around the organization from marketing to finance to the executive team, “we needed technology that could help us collect results quickly, be able to share with external business associates, and provide multiple capabilities at a marginal cost.”