7-Eleven's Supply-Chain Effort Will Have Benefits Way Beyond 7-Eleven

Convenience-store chain 7-Eleven is the first c-store operator that will share transaction data with its suppliers at the shopping-basket level, according to a report in Convenience Store News.

The new supply-chain technology, dubbed 7-Exchange, will let 7-Eleven's suppliers get time-stamped transaction data identified by store that is updated weekly—much more granular data than any of its competitors, the chain said. The new system is based on software from vendor IRI.

It's not clear how granular the transaction data was for 7-Eleven's internal use before this, but the new system should mean a big improvement for suppliers' ability to keep shelves stocked in the chain's stores. Like any retailer, a convenience store can't sell what it doesn't have—but because c-stores survive on impulse purchases, inventory is even more crucial.

But transaction data is always a double-edged sword. What's good for letting a supplier keep merchandise on 7-Eleven's shelves is also good for giving suppliers clues to what may need restocking at other convenience chains—that is, at 7-Eleven's competitors.

In fact, because the data is so finely sliced and diced, some suppliers should be able to get insights on what to watch for when it comes to restocking conventional grocery chains, especially smaller local or regional chains that don't have their own supply-chain portals with frequently updated data. It's not a perfect lens; by definition, those grocery stores aren't convenience stores. But if demand for Junior Mints or Lay's chips is spiking halfway through the replenishment cycle at 7-Elevens in one area, it may be time for suppliers to see if they're missing opportunities in other nearby stores too.

That doesn't change the advantage 7-Eleven will get from the new system. It's just a reminder that data isn't a zero-sum game—and a chain is likely to be satisfied as long as it's getting more benefit than its competitors.

For more:

- See this Convenience Store News story

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