When someone in the U.S. mentions the name 7-Eleven, Slurpees and rollers stocked with taquitos come to mind. However in Japan, the home of the chain’s parent company, 7-Eleven has long offered a higher-end customer experience — one that might be coming to the U.S., thanks in part to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The Japanese konbini (a term used to describe the country’s high-end, service-oriented convenience store) plays a more comprehensive role in daily life than the U.S. convenience store, a recent article on Medium by journalist Adam Chandler explains. There, going beyond traditional c-store fare, customers can manage pharmacy needs and buy clothing basics, use financial services and Wi-Fi and even book train tickets.
Mr. Chandler points to stateside changes, like the rollout of an enhanced inventory monitoring system to improve stock position, an increased footprint, the implementation of Amazon Lockers, in-store bill payment solutions and app-based delivery, as the slow but sure start of U.S. 7-Elevens transforming into konbinis. Products also play a role in the chain becoming more konbini-like with the pandemic-driven introduction of bake-at-home versions of familiar offerings alongside ongoing rollouts of healthier food choices.