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With about 5,800 stores in the U.S., many of them with products sourced from local or regional suppliers, 7-Eleven Inc. is moving to a self-serve mode for prospective suppliers by having them to apply online.
With about 5,800 stores in the U.S., many of them with products sourced from local or regional suppliers, 7-Eleven Inc. is moving to a self-serve mode for prospective suppliers by having them apply online to sell their goods or services.
The system, developed in-house, was designed to save time in processing vendor applications and match them to customer demand. It also makes it easier for suppliers to individual 7-Eleven stores to apply for business with a larger number of stores. "7-Eleven is always seeking fresh, high-quality products and services to meet customers` convenience needs," said Kathy Walsh, director of emerging technology. "The New Vendor/Supplier application streamlines the process of getting the newest products and services to market faster for both 7-Eleven and its potential suppliers."
As a rule, 7-Eleven tries to introduce about 20 new products to its stores each week. Under its traditional system, vendors apply through mailed correspondence, calls to its customer service call center, calls directly to its category managers, and visits to its Dallas headquarters. But that makes it difficult and more coslty for 7-Eleven to manage all vendor inquiries, says Michael Baldwin, national urban affairs manager. Under the new online system, he says, "we`ll save tons of operating dollars in paperwork, call center labor and other operations."
He adds that 7-Eleven is now making the online application the only way for vendors to offer new products and services. In fact, he says, the system will eventually be used for not only suppliers of consumer goods, but for all products and services used by 7-Eleven`s corporate operations.
The system requires vendors fill out an application form on 7-Eleven.com in the Products & Services section, where they submit information on what they can supply. The information is transferred to and stored in 7-11’s secure corporate intranet, where they get reviewed by category managers at 7-11’s Dallas headquarters. Managers learn of new application postings by e-mail alerts. Suppliers can check the status of their applications in the Products & Services section of 7-Eleven.com.
"We want prospective vendors and entrepreneurs to seek out 7-Eleven as a potential business partner," Baldwin says. "This application process supports our merchandising initiatives to offer items that are first to market and best in class."