By Todd Blackhurst
7-11 in Taiwan is the most convenient place on the planet. If you didn’t already know, there are so many things you can do there, it could easily be both an office and your second home. After reading this article, you’ll be able to do more than just get a cup of coffee and something to snack on.
But before I get to the list, first a little bit about Taiwan’s 7-11’s. Currently in Taiwan, there are a little over 5,000 7-11 stores. If you include all four of the major convenience store brands, (7-11, Family Mart, OK Mart & HI Life) that brings the total to over 10,000 stores on the island, each of which has a particular niche market. 7-11 is the largest and according to their own research, 93% of the population lives within 500 meters of a 7-11. The Taiwan Uni-President Corporation owns and operates 7-11 in Taiwan. Uni-President is also the largest food production company in Taiwan as well as all of Asia. Their portfolio also includes Starbucks, 7-Eleven, Mister Donut and Carrefour in Taiwan. In addition, they have the Uni-President Lions, a professional baseball team in Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League. At the end of the article, I’ve got some other interesting fact about 7-11 in Taiwan.
Now, let’s get to the list of some of the great things you can do at 7-11 in Taiwan.
- You can EAT! Anything that they sell, they will also prepare on the spot. Noodles, frozen foods, etc., everything can be heated up or hot water added while you wait and either eaten at 7-11 or put in a lovely little to go carrier for you including the utensils you need to eat.
- Some 7-11’s even offer Coffee Delivery. Not everyone and there is a limited delivery radius. If they offer the service, there will be a sign in the window. See my related post HERE.
- Free Restrooms – look for the sign outside indicating they have restrooms, not all do.
- You can Pay your Bills! Including phone, electric, gas, water, health insurance, income tax, car tax, and any other bill that comes with a bar code. Just present the bill to the clerk and they will ring it up like any other item. Make your payment (in cash) and you are done. No more trips to the gas, phone, electric, cable or any other office.
- Use the ATM machine to Transfer Money to anyone or any business on the island (this isn’t unique to 7-11, but while you are there, it makes it more convenient). I have found that 7-11 ATM’s are also the most user friendly and best to use when trying to withdraw cash from an overseas account.
- PRINT – Make photocopies, scan documents and send faxes. Every 7-11 has one of the latest and greatest full featured color laser copiers around. You can duplex, fold and staple, etc. You can even print greetings cards from their online catalog in the iBon store. I have a couple of related posts on how to print from your home or phone to the iBon system. You can take your documents on your own USB stick and just stick it in the machine to print (PDF documents work best!). But another easy way is just to send an email with your document or photo to firstname.lastname@example.org and you’ll receive a code back shortly. Take the e-mail to 7-11 and ask for help from the attendant if you don’t read Chinese. Print from Home / Print Pictures
- MAIL & SHIP – Use their express delivery services, just ask the attendant to help you prepare your package and send it across town, the island or the world. They have these handy envelopes that adjust to the size of the item, and even if you don’t speak, read or write Chinese, the attendants are super helpful and will help you fill out the information for the delivery slip. Just make sure you have the sender’s address and the receiver’s address in Chinese for them to see. Most on-item islands will be delivered next day – and you can even send things COD!
- Call a Taxi. Especially in those places where it’s hard to find a cab or maybe it’s late at night or if you don’t feel like standing on the street alone. Ask the attendant to help you use the iBon machine to call a taxi.
- Free Wi-Fi! CLICK HERE and then click on the left button at the bottom. It will help if you have google translate turned on in your browser. But once you sign up for an account, it’s good anywhere on the island. Put in your phone number, your name and choose a password (numbers and letters only). The system will send a verification code to your phone, once you enter it, you are good to go!
- Pay your parking tickets including those you lost. The iBon machine can help you look up tickets you may have lost or misplaced and print out a replacement so you can pay them all at 7-11!
- Recharge your phones voice or data plan. If you have a phone with a pay as you go plan, you can buy your refill cards at the iBon machine. This can be done with all of the major pay as you go services on the island.
- Buy bus train, plane or THSR tickets. Also at the iBon machine.
- Buy Concert or movie tickets using the iBon system.
- Recycle cd’s, batteries and mobile phones, glass bottles, etc. (Just take in a stack or bag and they will help you. You’ll get a store credit!)
- Add cash to your EasyCard, Yoyo card or iCash card – (the best card on the island for convenient access to the Youbike system, bus system and other mobile payments) You can also purchase a new card here.
- Take a nap (you won’t be the first – stay as long as you like, 7-11 won’t rush you off if you need to take a rest)
- You can buy local specialties 24/7, including banquets delivered directly to your door for that special occasion. Check out their seasonal catalogs which are released prior to every major Chinese holiday.
A few more interesting facts about 7-11 you may or may not know.
- 80% of the 7-11 stores are franchised.
- 7-11 has the islands largest electronic database, which allows them to deliver goods and services around the clock, and almost every service is available at every store around the island.
- Not too long ago, they became too convenient. If you have lived in Taiwan for any amount of time at all, you know that breakfast shops in Taiwan are very popular, so some time ago 7-11 decided to try and get in on the breakfast sandwich business. It started offering its own version of a made to order breakfast sandwich. It became so popular, that lines at the check out counters were too long and 7-11 became inconvenient, so they had to discontinue offering the sandwich so they could go back to doing what they do best, being convenient.
- Finally – Did you know that the 7-11 mascot’s name is Open Chan? He’s an extra-terrestrial dog from the planet Open. You can find him hanging out in most 7-11’s.