7-Eleven Key Stats
Region: North America
hour vendor projects reduced to 1 hour
increase in efficiency
of store sales data organized in 1 hour
for multiple teams
Searching for a solution to bring vendor data together
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.”
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A platform to combine numerous disparate data sources
“At my previous job, I had heard about Alteryx at Tableau Conference,” says Raghav Nargotra, manager of digital analytics at 7-Eleven.
“At the time, we needed something where we wouldn’t have to do a full onboarding process for a new platform.” Nargotra adds. “Since I had deep knowledge and experience with Alteryx, I truly believe that it helped land me my job here at 7-Eleven!”
“We started with the standard 14-day trial for Designer to see if it could help organize our data sources,” says Nayani. “After we went forward with downloading licenses, very quickly, I was able to see how easy it was to follow the logic of a workflow and to have that level of oversight would be impossible in Excel. It has allowed me to experiment without having to go through entire approval processes. Now I am able to bring all of our vendor data sources together in near-real time into one output to get deeper insights into hundreds of our digital promotions to see what’s working and what’s not.”
“We also use Server for sharing insights with our management teams,” says Nargotra. “We are able to send them daily snapshots of reports that are running on an automated schedule that justifies the time savings we are getting. Management has been in full support of the shift in taking a data-driven approach to things, and so now they certainly expect more from us.”
“I love the drag-and-drop functionality of the platform,” Millet says on his use of workflows for automated reporting. “Our team is able to learn new things consistently without needing IT support.”
A solution for time savings, efficiency, and quicker results
“Rather than relying on Excel to learn about what has happened in the past, we are now able to focus on business outcomes at a quicker pace,” Nayani says. “In addition to descriptive analytics, we are now able to use the power of prescriptive and predictive analytics leveraging Alteryx, thus driving business outcomes. Previously, requesting a vendor report or initiative could take up to 100 hours. Now we can build out a workflow for these reports in about an hour. Because of these time savings, we are now able to focus on other areas of business. Alteryx has helped us to do in-house analytics without needing to have an army of analysts.”
“I know for a fact it has increased my efficiency by 60%,” Millet states with confidence. “We’ll continue to leverage the platform to help get things off our plate so that we can take in new things on our plate.”
In addition to current capabilities, Nargota is excited about Alteryx's willingness to work with them on their beta release. "At 7-Eleven, we stress tested Alteryx's assisted modeling for 6 months with millions of data points," he says. "This resulted in my team discovering one bug and one setting issue that Alteryx promptly fixed. The assisted modeling road map is mind-blowing and we are eagerly waiting to leverage future capabilities."
Nargotra describes an achievement he accomplished within Alteryx in the past year. “Before I joined there was no data architecture. You would just sit down and try to get sales metrics one by one on how many units of products were sold. I created a report that could get specific a year’s worth of store product sales info in just one hour, and that has been really cool for me. Alteryx is my answer to almost any question! If I couldn’t use it in my day-to-day, I would honestly probably leave my job.”
Striking a chord with customers through data
So what's next? Nayani has some innovative ideas on how to tackle new analytics initiatives going forward. “We want to transform our products and promotions to be tailored specifically to customers and to be less generic. We want them to be customized to meet targeted customer experiences, and we think Alteryx can be of great help in that process,” he says.
“Additionally, we’ll also continue to utilize Server to take advantage of different apps and expand usage to other teams across the organization,” Nayani says. With its collaborative capabilities, Server enables 7-Eleven to schedule and automate workflows, offload data-intensive processes in a trusted, secure environment, and share workflows and apps around the organization.
Nayani provides insightful advice to those who may be considering Alteryx as their platform of choice to take on data-driven tasks: “Take a leap of faith and start with a free trial of the platform to explore the possibilities you have in front of you. The onboarding process with Alteryx was incredible for us, so others should lean on customer support and let the tool do the hard work.”
Nargotra provides his own thoughts. “I think down the line there will be a high demand for analysts who have experience using Alteryx. Everyone wants to feel valued in their role, but they have to put in the effort to get to that point. Because I am now well-versed in the product, people come to me with questions that I can answer and that makes me very happy. It will be up to like-minded individuals to develop a sense of ownership to onboard your tools, do your research and learn about the capabilities of the software, and move forward with it.
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