A Lock on Convenience

7-Eleven expands its locker program to serve more retailers
Amazon 7 Eleven

7-Eleven Inc. is making space for more lockers at a number of its stores.

Over the past year, the Dallas-based company has added lockers that let customers pick up packages from FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc. The program began in 2011, when 7-Eleven partnered with Amazon to install lockers in several U.S. locations.

And 7-Eleven announced in October that it would install Wal-Mart lockers in locations in Toronto as well, according to The Wall Street Journal. Wal-Mart Canada’s Grab & Go locker network will expand to six 7-Eleven stores in the greater Toronto area. The retailers have agreed to a six-month pilot of the project to evaluate customer response and usage.

The announcement marks the first time in Canada two retailers have teamed up to offer a locker service. Wal-Mart provides customers using Walmart.ca a free shipping option that allows them to pick up their order 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at no cost.

2 billion

Number of items Amazon sold worldwide in 2014 —Amazon

And now, any retailer that ships via UPS or FedEx now has a similar delivery option. Customers in the United States and Canada who don’t want packages left on their doorsteps can arrange to have online orders from retailers delivered to lockers at 200 locations so far. Customers open the lockers by scanning bar codes sent via email to their smartphones.

But there is a risk: less space for merchandise. Each locker unit takes up about the same amount of space as one large shelf, which by some estimates could represent thousands of dollars in lost sales each year.

The lockers are part of a larger strategy to keep customers coming to 7-Eleven stores as more commerce moves online, said the report. “The locker program is another segment of our omnichannel strategy of delivering what people want, when and where they want it,” says 7-Eleven spokesperson Margaret Chabris.

Fees from the lockers and the added foot traffic that results could also help the chain carve out a small slice of e-commerce business, even if 7-Eleven is largely a brick-and-mortar retailer, Raja Doddala, vice president of new ventures, told the Journal.

7-Eleven officials didn’t disclose the fees it charges partners for the lockers, nor how franchise owners are compensated. They said the locker program is still in the testing stages.