174 stores across Denmark
Reitan Convenience Danmark owns the rights to operate the 7-Eleven brand in Denmark, where there are currently 174 7-Eleven stores. "But that number often changes, as we often open new stores or have business transfers of existing stores," says Tina Kjelgaard. She works at the Service Office that provides the full range of corporate services like HR, payroll, procurement, communication and marketing IT, and more for Reitan Convenience Danmark's franchisees. The franchisees are self-employed merchants that each operate one or more 7-Eleven stores. Tina is also the project manager for the internal platform, 7-Eleven Universe, which revolves around the Ziik platform.
We wanted a better way to communicate important information directly to everyone in the operation at once. We have a lot of information to pass on, and passing it all through the merchants simply wasn't efficient. It took up too much of their time, and sometimes the information didn't reach the people on the shop floors in time.
We wanted to take responsibility for getting important messages through, and for saving time for the franchisees. And sometimes a message just can't wait for the franchisee to pass it on. Things like changes to food safety regulations or warnings about shoplifters - you want those messages to get through fast.
We also wanted to get closer to all the employees in 7-Eleven stores out there, to make them feel they're part of the 7-Eleven universe, and not just their local store. We want to boost employee engagement and improve retention. One of retail's biggest challenges is employee turnover, which is close to 80% a year for the whole industry. If we can do something about that, we can really do something for the merchants.
To boost retention and save time for merchants, we also wanted some way to improve our onboarding of new employees. Working a shift in a 7-Eleven store, you have to be a master of many things. Just think of all the regulations and manuals you need to know - age regulations for buying tobacco or alcohol, food safety regulations and so on. It takes time to learn for the employee. But it's important to support them in becoming great at their jobs, because the better you are, the happier you'll be - and the longer you'll stay.
Onboarding is also a big investment for the franchisee, who has to have double staffing for peer training of the new employee. So we wanted to be able to help both employees and franchisees by supporting the onboarding and learning process. And we wanted to make all our manuals and learning tools and other important information available at all hours to everyone in the 7-Eleven family.
We wanted a system we could set up ourselves, to match our very unique franchise structure. We really are quite special, you can't just lump everything together under one hat, both in terms of GDPR, but also because we are a huge number of small, independent merchants. If one of our merchants operates four stores, we didn't want him to have four different systems with four different log-ins. If he wants to sell off one of his stores, we wanted to be able to transfer the system for the business to the new franchisee as part of the business transfer, instead of deleting it all and starting over. We do quite a few business transfers, so this was very important.
We were already using an e-learning platform, but needed something else to add the communication and information sharing aspects, and a platform that could tie it all together, and Ziik came highly recommended. Ziik is born out of the franchise industry, so they knew all the special requirements already. They gave us an empty platform to experiment with, and it was soon clear that Ziik could deliver everything we wanted.
We have recently launched our internal platform, 7-Eleven Universe. Employees and franchisees access the universe with an Azure AD log-in, that gives access to every system they need in there. The universe integrates the Ziik platform for internal communication and information sharing, our e-learning platform, Learning Bank, and our business intelligence system, Reitan Intelligence, which has been developed by Ziik partners, Biwise, and the whole thing revolves around Ziik.
I've set up the system completely by myself. And my background is in HR not IT. Ziik has informed me that they do have a support function, but I simply haven't needed it. Our dialogue has mainly been me offering feedback and suggesting things that would optimise the platform for us.
Ziik has been very open to suggestions during the process. Most questions they can answer on the spot, others they need to check with their colleagues first. They do want to develop the platform and add new features, but they don't want to force them on their other users. But if they can add a new feature and make it so you can choose for yourself whether to use it or not, they'll do it as fast as they can. I think our working relationship is more like development partners than simply customers and salespeople.
I have onboarded all our franchisees to the 7-Eleven Universe and shown them everything they can do there, and it has been really easy. They've all been very impressed by the platform, and no-one expressed any doubts about how to use it. But then again, retail people never have a lot of time for sitting down. On the other hand, they don't have any patience for things that don't work, and so far I've heard no complaints about using the platform or the content.