For a while now..ok over 3 months to be precise, I have been trying to figure out and appreciate the 7-Eleven outlets..small,stand alone shopping units that seem to be very well located as far as retail positioning is concerned… in other words,they happen to be ‘everywhere!’
7-Eleven stores are regarded as convenience stores,with origins tracing back to 1927 in Dallas, Texas. I first came across these stores during a visit to Singapore 2 years ago,but it is during my stay in Bangkok,that i have come to appreciate their reliability and convenience to many city folk.
Going back to the origins,the 7-Eleven name came about from the stores’ unique operating hours i.e 7 am to 11 pm, a unique feat at the time. Over the years,including change of ownership and expansion to overseas markets, 7-Eleven stores now operate, round the clock, 24 hours in 16 countries as at 2011. According to Wikipedia,there exists 46,000 outlets,worldwide run on a franchise basis,an all time high number, even surpassing McDonald’s.
Well getting back to the stores in Thailand, it is thought (no reliable figures I could get) that around 6,000 stores exist in the country with close to around 2,000 in the capital city alone!
So what would make these, 40 – 100 square metre outlets so popular to form a significant part of Bangkok’s retail landscape,in an era now being dominated by mega shopping malls and supermarkets. Find below 7 factors that I picked out:
1. Location – Every street corner and bang, ‘we are here too’. In addition,presence in ground floor of major buildings like the Nation Tower ( 26 floor offices); you can never miss 10-12 customers,in the 40 sq. metre outlet at any given time.
2. Product range – The pack of cigarette that you forgot,a bottle of water you just want to grab on your way to the car,a cartoon DVD that you just remembered you were to pick for your kid before you catch that bus.The sum of the small,little items just makes the 7-Elevens just the ideal deal. Add to that the availability of a variety of sandwiches,Thai hot dogs,tap- in soda,iced coffee and this becomes your one-stop mini supermarket.
3. Service – Ever smiling,welcoming staff. Upon entering the stores,there is always someone at the counter while handling the till,who will shout out a ‘Hello and welcome’…..all in Thai though..
4. Self choice/ service option – From an African background,only supermarkets provide the self choice way of shopping. Similar size stores,often referred to as kiosks/dukas only afford the shopper the opportunity to convey their requirements(shopping order), over a counter. The closest to 7-Eleven concept would be partnering franchises located at petrol/gas stations.
5. Round the clock open – 24 hour operations plays well to Bangkok’s Night shopping culture witnessed in such areas as Patpong and Nana. Re-sellers,tourists who choose to participate in the night markets,have the opportunity of picking a snack and even a beer, at a 7-Eleven outlet that is sure to be open down the street at 2 am.
6. Security – Presence of in-store security cameras are deterrents to potential shop lifters, discounting the need to hire unmotivated looking and often frowned upon,security personnel
7. Utility Bills – I am informed that 7-Eleven stores offer the opportunity to settle utility bills such as Electricity,gas,cable T.V. Taking convenience the extra mile I think!
‘Oh Thank Heaven’ .. a befitting way of describing a 7-Eleven