7-Eleven plans to open its first branded store in India this year. Future Retail Ltd., which already operates domestic retail chains in the country, will handle the retailer’s operations, with plans to both set up 7-Eleven stores from scratch and to convert some of its existing operations to the brand.
Physical stores are an increasing necessity for international retailers to get a foothold in India, where e-Commerce laws impede foreign competition. One regulation bans exclusive sales, prevents retailers from selling products on platforms they count as investors, and applies restrictions on discounts and cashback promotions, which is expected to hit Amazon particularly hard.
India has outlined another new draft policy that focuses on data localization, improved privacy safeguards and measures to combat the sale of counterfeit products, according to Reuters. These moves would restrict the cross-border flow of data and require all e-Commerce web sites or apps to have a locally registered business entity, increasing the cost of doing online business.
The 7-Eleven stores also could take advantage of rising interest in alternative payments in India. While India has lagged other emerging markets in this area, they are still on the rise: mobile wallets grew by 433% between 2015 and 2017, according to PYMNTS. This growing interest aligns with 7-Eleven’s embrace of alternative payment methods, which include a pilot of mobile Scan & Pay in 14 U.S. stores and the acceptance of Alipay and WeChat Pay In 35 Canadian locations.
“We think it’s important to serve the needs customers have today, and also what might be unmet needs in the future,” said Gurmeet Singh, Chief Digital Officer of 7-Eleven in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “For example, most banks are closed when people need them, but we have 63,000 locations open 24/7. So programs like PayNearMe, which lets U.S. consumers pay their bills, and Amazon Cash, which lets customers that don’t have credit cards still enjoy Amazon services by converting their cash into currency, are important.”