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As responsiveness increases, the convenience store chain is exposed to greater uncertainty. A convenience store chain can improve responsiveness to this uncertainty using one of the following strategies, especially for fresh and fast foods:
Local Capacity. The convenience store chain can provide local cooking capacity at the stores and assemble foods almost on demand. Inventory would be stored as raw material. This is seen at the U.S. fast-food restaurant franchise Subway where dinner and lunch sandwiches are assembled on demand. The main risk with this approach is that capacity is decentralized, leading to poorer utilization.
Local Inventory. Another approach is to have all inventory available at the store at all times. This allows for the centralization of cooking capacity. The main risk is obsolete inventory and the need for extra space.
Rapid Replenishment. Another approach is to set up rapid replenishment and supply the stores with what they need when they need it. This allows for centralization of cooking capacity and low levels of inventory, but increases the cost of replenishment and receiving.
2. SEVEN-ELEVEN'S SUPPLY CHAIN STRATEGY IN JAPAN CAN BE DESCRIBED AS ATTEMPTING TO MICRO-MATCH SUPPLY AND DEMAND USING RAPID REPLENISHMENT. WHAT ARE SOME RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH THIS CHOICE?
The main risk for Seven-Eleven is the potentially high cost of transportation and receiving at stores.
3. WHAT HAS SEVEN-ELEVEN DONE IN ITS CHOICE OF FACILITY LOCATION, INVENTORY MANAGEMENT, TRANSPORTATION, AND INFORMATION INFRASTRUCTURE TO DEVELOP CAPABILITIES THAT SUPPORT ITS SUPPLY CHAIN STRATEGY IN JAPAN?
All choices made by Seven-Eleven are structured to lower its transportation and receiving costs. For example, its area-dominance strategy of opening at least 50 to 60 stores in an area helps with marketing but also lowers the cost of replenishment. All manufacturing facilities are centralized to get the maximum benefit of capacity aggregation and also lower the inbound transportation cost from the manufacturer to the distribution center (DC). Seven-Eleven also requires all suppliers to deliver to the DC where products are sorted by temperature. This reduces the outbound transportation cost because of aggregation of deliveries across multiple suppliers. It also lowers the receiving cost. The information infrastructure is set up to allow store managers to place orders based on analysis of consumption data. The information infrastructure also facilitates the sorting of an order at the DC and receiving of the order at the store. The key point to emphasize here is that most decisions by Seven-Eleven are structured to aggregate transportation and receiving to make both cheaper.
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"Increasing Responsiveness of a Convenience Store Chain." 123HelpMe.com. 20 Aug 2019
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4. SEVEN-ELEVEN DOES NOT ALLOW DIRECT STORE DELIVERY IN JAPAN, WITH ALL PRODUCTS FLOWING THROUGH ITS DISTRIBUTION CENTER. WHAT BENEFIT DOES SEVEN-ELEVEN DERIVE FROM THIS POLICY? WHEN IS DIRECT STORE DELIVERY MORE APPROPRIATE?
Direct store delivery (DSD) would lower the utilization of the outbound trucks from the Seven-Eleven DC. It would also increase the receiving costs at the stores because of the increased deliveries. Thus, Seven-Eleven forces all suppliers to come in through the DC. DSD is most appropriate when stores are large and nearly-full truck load quantities are coming from a supplier to a store. This was the case, for example, in large U.S. Home Depot stores. For smaller stores it is almost always beneficial to have an intermediate aggregation point to lower the cost of freight. In fact, Home Depot itself is setting up these intermediate facilities for its new stores that are often smaller.
5. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE 7DREAM CONCEPT FOR SEVEN-ELEVEN JAPAN? FROM A SUPPLY CHAIN PERSPECTIVE, IS IT LIKELY TO BE MORE SUCCESSFUL IN JAPAN OR THE UNITED STATES? WHY?
7dream makes sense given that Japanese customers are happy to receive their shipments at the local convenience store. From a logistics perspective, online deliveries can piggy back on Seven-Eleven’s existing distribution network in Japan. Deliveries from the online supplier can be brought to the DC where they are sorted along with other deliveries destined for a store. This should increase the utilization of outbound transportation allowing Seven-Eleven to offer a lower cost alternative to having a package carrier deliver the product at home. The primary negatives are that 7dream will use up storage space and require the store to be able to retrieve specific packages for customers.
One can argue that the concept may be more successful in Japan given the existing distribution network of Seven-Eleven and the frequency of visits by customers. Online delivery is able to link with the existing network. The high visit frequency ensures that packages are not occupying valuable store shelf space for a long time. Also, the frequent visits ensure that the marginal cost to the customer of picking up at a Japanese Seven-Eleven is small. This is less likely to be the case in the United States.
6. SEVEN-ELEVEN IS ATTEMPTING TO DUPLICATE THEIR SUCCESSFUL JAPANESE SUPPLY CHAIN STRUCTURE IN THE UNITED STATES WITH THE INTRODUCTION OF CDCS. WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF THIS APPROACH? KEEP IN MIND THAT STORES ARE ALSO REPLENISHED BY WHOLESALERS AND DSD BY MANUFACTURERS.
The difficulty of duplicating the Japan supply chain structure in the United States follows primarily from the much lower density of U.S. Seven-Eleven stores. This is compounded by the fact that Seven-Eleven stores are getting both direct store deliveries as well as wholesaler deliveries to its stores. Setting up its own DCs does not allow Seven-Eleven to get the same level of transportation aggregation as it gets in Japan. Its own distribution system would help more if all wholesaler deliveries and direct store deliveries were stopped and routed through the DC. Even then, having its own distribution system would add much less value than in Japan given the lower density of stores and larger distance between stores.
7. THE UNITED STATES HAS FOOD SERVICE DISTRIBUTORS LIKE MCLANE THAT ALSO REPLENISH CONVENIENCE STORES. WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS TO HAVING A DISTRIBUTOR REPLENISH CONVENIENCE STORES VERSUS A COMPANY LIKE SEVEN-ELEVEN MANAGING ITS OWN DISTRIBUTION FUNCTION?
One can contend that a distributor brings much more value to the table in the United States relative to Japan. Given the lower density of stores, a distributor is able to aggregate deliveries across many competing stores. This allows a distributor to reach levels of aggregation that cannot be achieved by a single chain such as Seven-Eleven. The big disadvantage to having all deliveries done through a distributor is that Seven-Eleven is unable to exploit having a large number of stores. In fact, it may be argued that going through the distributor has Seven-Eleven subsidize deliveries to competing smaller chains that may also be using the same distributor.