April 10, 2008 // Franchising.com // Dallas, TX,- 7-Eleven, Inc. is looking for the next Slurpee® beverage, portable grill product, eco-friendly packaging, kid-appealing toy or whiz-bang prepaid service at an invitation-only Innovation event in June.
The world's leading convenience retailer is asking suppliers, vendors and manufacturers to apply to participate in its third Innovation event June 10-11, 2008, at its headquarters in Dallas. At that time, finalists can showcase their ideas for consideration by the company's senior merchandising team.
"When we last held this event in 2002, we received some 400 applications and selected 15 companies for face-to-face reviews," said Kevin Elliott, 7-Eleven's senior vice president of merchandising and logistics. "We want to expand the program to two days and bring more products, services and capabilities that meet the ever-changing needs of our convenience-oriented customers."
Elliott estimates 7-Eleven, which operates and franchises more than 5,600 7-Eleven® stores in the United States, receives thousands of new ideas each year, while the company introduces at least 25 new products to its stores each week.
"We designated Innovation Day to provide local and national vendors, whether they've worked with us in the past, currently or never before, the opportunity to present their new, innovative ideas to our merchandising executives," he added. "We want to keep our product pipeline full so we're looking for companies that will come with great, new ideas, unique concepts, manufacturing capabilities and resources to meet the demand of our more than six-million customers a day."
Elliot explained that 7-Eleven, Inc. offers scale, information and an understanding of customers' convenience needs vendors to vendors. "We have the ability to help manufacturers refine products and introduce them nationally or regionally to millions of consumers. Our ordering systems and sophisticated distribution network can handle logistics on the front end, while our systems technology allows us to track data by store and by market to provide immediate feedback to the supplier on how well their products or ideas are selling."
With retail shelf-space at a premium, competition is fierce among manufacturers for product placement and much-coveted facings. In the small space of a 7-Eleven store, that's especially so where product sales and profitability are literally measured in inches.
7-Eleven uses its "first, best, only" strategy and customer focus as benchmarks to assess new product offerings, Elliott said. "First and foremost, everything is based on meeting what the customer will want or need. After that, we want 7-Eleven to be first to market, offer the best quality and value and, if possible, to have product exclusivity. That's a tall order and a day-in, day-out challenge. We're looking for products people need that will exceed customer expectations for quality and value."
The Innovation Day application form and criteria are available at 7-Eleven's web site, www.7-Eleven.com. Every application will be reviewed, and companies selected to participate will be contacted to schedule an appointment time with the management team. Each company's presentation will be held to 20 minutes.
7-Eleven, Inc. is the premier name and largest chain in the convenience retailing industry and this year observes its 81st anniversary. Based in Dallas, Texas, 7-Eleven operates, franchises or licenses approximately 7,500 7-Eleven® stores in North America. Globally, 7-Eleven operates, franchises or licenses close to 34,000 stores in 17 countries. During 2007, 7-Eleven stores worldwide generated total sales of more than $46.6 billion. Find out more online at www.7-Eleven.com.