The Australian 7-Eleven convenience chain is looking to Australia and New Zealand Banking Group for a new electronic funds transfer (EFT) system for its 386 stores, replacing its previous in-house system.
(Credit: Dennis Lewis)
"We were going to have to do some significant upgrades to the current solution to make it compliant with all of the new demands of the card issuers in terms of security and encryption and all of those things," 7-Eleven CIO Dennis Lewis told ZDNet.com.au. It made more sense to replace it with an up-to-date system, he said.
Although the new system would in part be funded via merchant fees, there was still some capital investment on the system, Lewis said. He thought it was worth it. "It's something that takes us forward rather than shoring up an old solution," he said.
The business case for developing an EFT system in-house had been badly damaged by rules made by the Reserve Bank on interchange fees since 7-Eleven developed its system seven years ago, Lewis said. "The banks used to pay us quite high fees for EFT transactions. The changes in all the rules reduced our income quite significantly," he said.
Lewis' 19-strong IT team was currently testing the new system. He hoped to see it rolled out to the stores by this Christmas. He would not comment on the cost of the system.
The changes in all the rules reduced our income quite significantly.
This project hasn't been the only iron in Lewis' fire. Last year he completed an SAP upgrade that was the basis for 7-Eleven's SAP business intelligence implementation, phase one of which went live in December.
Although it was too early yet to really see the benefits, he said that some advantages of the new system were already flowing through. "They're able now to really monitor what's happening at a store level in terms of inventory," he said.
It was used extensively in supply negotiations. "Having access to really good information that we can get quickly kind of changes a bit of the negotiations with our suppliers, because we've probably got better information than they have, which previously we didn't," he said.
A bevy of manual reporting was also being automated, to save staff time.
Phase two is to move the use of the system to the stores, not just the head office. Lewis was deciding what information the stores could use without running the danger of becoming lost under an avalanche of data. "Technically we have all the capability in place, it's just really a question of what do we want to give them," he said.
Another key project has been what he calls eServices, carried out with a company called Touch Networks. The project revolves around creating the capability to sell lottery tickets or transport cards using the chain's Radiant point of sale system instead of through a separate kiosk run by the ticket seller in the 7-Eleven store.
It makes life a hell of a lot easier at the store level.
"Developing the capability and integrating it into our system was massive," Lewis said. "It was at the application level: how do you integrate something so that our touchscreen point of sale can interact with a piece of software that then goes back over the network and interacts with somebody else's back-end database, creates a transaction and hands it back over to the point of sale so you can sell it to the customer."
The idea was to get really good integration at a generic level so that Lewis' team didn't have to keep changing the point of sale software.
Getting rid of kiosks not only frees up real estate on the store counters, but also means that the stores don't have to reconcile revenues from two different systems. "It makes life a hell of a lot easier at the store level," he said.
Lewis is also looking at being able to link other kiosks into the new system. These kiosks would be away from the front counter and would allow customers to access self-serve products, which require too much data entry to be done at the counter, such as e-tag top ups that require more detailed personal information.