The Importance Of Data Connectivity
Many of us can remember the days when the cash report was done with three carbon copies inside the book, and couriers would deliver it to 7-Eleven, Inc. once a week. Back then we only had double keys, tax and non-tax, and all the prices were normalized by the cashiers. We have made a lot of progress since those paper days, and today advances in our system—like Business Transformation and the new electronic ordering system—have made running our stores less cumbersome. However, as useful as all of these technological improvements have been, they still present some challenges.
For instance, this year in most parts of the country our entire credit and debit card processing system broke down two or three times. We couldn’t even process EBT cards, and the incidents lasted a couple of days. After it was fixed, it broke down again. Sometimes our safes would go off-line. We would put $400 in the safe in one shift, and the backroom would say $260. Then we have to spend time looking for the money and the data and creating a case. We call the help desk, but it’s a time consuming process because we would have to go through all the steps of rebooting the safe before the help desk would send a technician. Then we have to pay for this service because it is a non-contract maintenance charge. So it seems modernization comes with a whole new set of problems—of the digital nature.
Having an advanced business system means that data connectivity is of the upmost importance, because no one wants to go back to the paper days. On the cash registers the most common problem is that they tend to freeze up, which means we have to call the help desk and they end up sending out a technician, which will cost us. SEI said it is rolling out a new cash register for stores next year, but right now it’s a problem.
Data connectivity appears to be particularly troublesome for non-integrated acquisition gas stores, which are three or four times more likely to have problems precisely because they are not fully incorporated into SEI’s digital systems. Sometimes third party credit card information does not roll back due to lost satellite connectivity at these stores. Then the franchisee has to create a case in order to correct the issue and get the credit. Integration has been promised to these stores next year, but until that time it is difficult for the franchisees, who have to do more work to correct their paperwork.
Acquisition gas stores happen to be non-integrated, so they have two cash registers—one for the Exxon or Chevron gas and the other for the rest of the store because the gas system is not yet integrated into SEI’s system. So to make a cash report, franchisees have to use a worksheet called a Duel System Gas Worksheet and enter the figures into that. This process is very time consuming compared to being fully integrated into the system.
In this day and age, data connectivity problems should not happen this frequently. SEI needs to resolve these issues so all 7-Eleven stores are fully integrated into the system and all the kinks have been worked out. Then franchisees can concentrate more on growing sales and profits, and less on IT issues.