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Convenience store giant in hot water with franchisees

BY CSA STAFF

7-Eleven is in the center of a lawsuit.

The National Coalition of Associations of 7-Eleven Franchisees, which represents the owners of nearly 7,000 franchised locations in the United States, filed a lawsuit against the convenience store giant on Friday. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, claims that parent company 7-Eleven has not been treating franchisees as independent contractors and business owners.

According to the group, the brand has been chipping away at franchisees’ profits, increasing their costs, and exercising more control over what is supposed to be an independent operation. The lawsuit challenges certain provisions of the 7-Eleven Franchise Agreement, and seeks monetary damages, attorney’s fees and costs and other relief for claims relating to unpaid overtime wages and unreimbursed expenses.

Specifically, the group said that 7-Eleven is taking away the opportunity for franchisees to possess and/or control revenue generated from franchised stores; forcing them to sell certain goods or service for less than the cost to acquire or selling them, and requiring them to use specific to operate franchise stores. The lawsuit also states that 7-Eleven is imposing a regressive royalty structure that penalizes franchisees for increasing sales; and it has been transferring the responsibility for paying credit card processing fees directly to franchisees.

“Conditions imposed by the franchisor are threatening these businesses, many of which are family operations,” said Coalition executive vice chairman Jay Singh.

“Many of our members have operated 7-Eleven franchises for decades and are gravely concerned not only for their future, but the future of the brand they love and have invested so much in,” said Singh. “We need to hold 7-Eleven accountable. We love this brand and are saddened by the way they have been treating the people who are the very heart and soul of the company.”

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Visual data changes the execution game

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

When it comes to managing the execution of promotional campaigns, image-based platforms are taking strategies to a new level.

An industry known for being data-heavy, retail is inundated with a constant flow of product and customer information passing between retailers and supplier partners. However, disparate operations continue to take a toll on trade promotions.

Some brands continue to manage information through email exchanges and text messages. Other companies use even more cumbersome processes as they continue to physically input data archived on paper-based spreadsheets. It’s clear that such legacy systems are not up to the demands of real-time retailing.

“Whether you are writing information with a pen and paper, or emailing data to create a PowerPoint, that takes a ton of time out of the day, and kills a return on investment,” said Chris Kampfe, VP of marketing, GoSpotCheck. “Companies need to spend less time on managing data and focus on higher value activities. By streamlining campaign execution, retailers will also get paid faster from supplier partners.”

Data gets visual — and centralized
The solution for many companies is adopting a standardized platform that manages structured data, such as currency, numbers, names, dates and addresses filtered through point-of-sale solutions, customer relationship management systems, and other mission-critical applications, as well as unstructured data, such as metadata and audio and video files. GoSpotCheck offers a 360º solution that can streamline execution and drive ROI.

In this first-of-its-kind platform, a mobile app is complemented by a web-based dashboard that acts as central repository of all data.

Now, as users create an end-cap display, for example, all data — from pricing values to product images — is aggregated in a centralized location.

“Viewing photos and data are a big part of execution,” he explained. “From a reporting standpoint, the images not only help retailers meet metrics, they also keep stores in compliance of what the campaign should look like and account for all steps that need to be completed. The tools also give a way for users to follow up on tasks ASAP.”

The platform in action: a retail case study
One retailer that is using the technology successfully is Crocs. Like many companies, Crocs collected data using a time-consuming process that included paper documentation, electronic conversion, and digital organization across multiple organizational teams. Data was recorded using Excel, but the information was not in a shareable or digestible format.

“There was also no way to attach digital pictures to paper which severely limited comprehensive analysis,” said Samantha Rice, director of retail operations at Crocs.

In search of a field team management solution that could increase general accountability for both individual team members and within retail stores, Crocs turned to GoSpotCheck’s survey solution, called Missions. Optional and mandatory survey fields were important for the retailer to differentiate between secondary and high-priority tasks.

Missions helped Crocs gather detailed information through pictures and a variety of task types, including multiple choice and conditional questioning. GoSpotCheck’s picture upload capabilities and related photo management made it simple to pair the numerical data with imagery.

“GoSpotCheck gives us an easier way to track presentation standards in the stores, while aggregating collected data for us to examine from a manager and leadership perspective,” Rice explained.

Using the mobile and online reporting dashboard combination empowers district managers to hold stores to brand goals at the enterprise level. Meanwhile, customizable charts and graphs keep teams accountable when examining retail execution and tracking activity. Filterable reporting tiles help Crocs discover actionable data quickly and easily.

“I can see what stores are visited and by what teams, the time between the previous visit, and the length of time each team spends in each store,” Rice said. “I have everything at my fingertips to bring clarity to the whole chain.”

Since rolling out GoSpotCheck, the company has improved the consistency of when and how visits are conducted, giving leadership in the corporate office “better visibility into store visits,” she added.

Crocs’ story illustrates the early benefits of image-based reporting, but new gains are on the horizon, including the transition to optical recognition. As a user snaps a picture of a display, for example, this data can be merged with a POS transaction log to ensure planograms and product movement is in compliance, creating “a truly automated process,” Kampfe said.

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Report: Specialty retailer explores a new service — shoe rentals

BY CSA STAFF

DSW is eyeing a new service to drive shoppers into its stores.

Coinciding with the company’s new brand mission to build an emotional connect with its customers and innovate customer experiences, DSW is integrating shoe rentals into its product offering, according to The Washington Post.

According to the report, the service is expected to be popular among shoppers who need a shoe for a special occasion to match a particular dress, but probably won’t ever wear it again. DSW is expect to test the service “in coming months.”

The service is expected to augment a new menu of options that DSW is introducing, including shoe repairs and storage options, the Washington Post said.

To read more, click here.

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