7-Eleven announced last week that it is providing franchisees with Microsoft Surface devices equipped with Microsoft 365 and Power BI to better assess their overall performance, understand purchase trends and analyze other metrics to help their businesses grow, the convenience store chain announced in a press release.
With the BI dashboards, 7-Eleven employees can identify trends and visualize insights from point-of-sale data and use the Surface camera to photograph the layout of the store to spot differences from the planogram that Franchisees can use to find sales opportunities, the company noted.
7-Eleven is also migrating its infrastructure to Azure. The company is already tapping Azure's artificial intelligence capabilities to provide consumers with personalized recommendations on the 7NOW delivery app.
7-Eleven's usage of Microsoft technology appears to be a tool for bridging the gap between franchisees and the corporate office.
"Franchisees have a significant role to play in our transformation, and empowering them with the right information is critical. Our collaboration with Microsoft enables us to get data out to Franchisees through our field employees that they can use to make better business decisions," Gurmeet Singh, executive vice president and chief digital, information and marketing officer at 7-Eleven, said in a statement.
The effort is the latest among many initiatives that 7-Eleven has implemented to modernize its technology. In August, for example, the convenience store chain introduced mobile check out in its New York City locations.
Meanwhile, Microsoft's strengthened relationship 7-Eleven is another instance of the veteran tech giant partnering with a sizeable retailer and positioning itself as a possible alternative to Amazon's growing dominance.
In the past, Microsoft had asked Walmart to give up Amazon's cloud and went on to build a "cloud factory" to integrate Walmart's internal applications to Microsoft's Azure cloud. Last year, Microsoft was also reportedly developing cashier-less technology to compete against Amazon Go.
These technological advancements come as the convenience store sector is seeking to modernize its technology and upgrade its customer loyalty programs. The industry has long had its eye on speeding up its services, but many convenience store chain directors and IT managers, per a recent Zynstra report, find upgrading technology is a difficult task.
However, as convenience stores update their technology, competitors like Amazon Go, GoPuff, Zippin, Grabandgo and others are vying for their share of the convenience market. If established convenience stores want to maintain their stronghold, there's no time like the present to contemporize their technological capabilities, especially as more American consumers shift away from carrying cash.