Angus, thanks for joining me today. I just wanted to start our chat with a bit of a personal perspective and a bit of understanding where you’ve come from. I know you studied economics and corporate management, and I wondered when you were studying and when you started out in life, what was your original career goal?
Angus McKay (00:26)
So the original career goal was definitely not economics! The aspiration coming out of school was to be a vet, and probably nothing’s changed. I’m a relatively impatient individual and I missed the cut off by just a few marks and I had some choices I could have gone back to school or I could have gone in and done science and then looked to transfer and that just all felt really slow and it’s probably fair to say that then on enjoying my break between school and university catching up with a couple of mates what were they going to do and they’re all heading off to Sydney University to do economics and things. And I thought, that sounds like a good idea. I’ll give that a go. And I swear that would have been about as much thought as I’d put behind it at the time. It was literally a case of, do I have an interest in that space? I do, let’s go give that a go. And before I know, I’ve enrolled myself into that course and I’m completing a degree.
And so when you got to the end of that, you obviously loved something about what you had done. There was obviously pathways that you could see that perhaps weren’t obvious to you when you started out. What was it that appealed to you that took you into your career?
Angus McKay (02:50)
Yeah, so I learned enough through that I’m, you know, so one of my options was I could have gone and hit down a law path or a sort of a corporate path or a charted path. And I knew enough that from
time I spent that accounting was important, but it was definitely not my bailiwick nor passion. The law, I enjoyed the philosophical side of it, but I just couldn’t see myself practicing. So business seemed really interesting. And I’d spoken to enough people, particularly my last year, that actually started to have some real interest. So I therefore chose to interview with companies that were corporations, if you like. And, but being a graduate, I mean, I, you know, and, and frankly, being in Australia where I don’t think specialization at times is hard. You know, I was, I was interviewing with technology companies, banks, um, FMCG, I mean, literally the, the raft of those.
And if I’m, I suppose I should be honest on something like this,I ended up joining IBM out of the gate. Why? It paid $2,500 more.
Well, you won’t be the first person that’s chosen their first job for that reason or their second job.
Angus McKay (04:19)
And I probably would say for anyone that’s out there who is leaving university, so back in the dark ages, so that number was $21,500 total. So, yeah, by today’s standards, not exactly a mozza, but…Yeah, I thought that’s cool. The other logic behind it was, um, it was a big international company. I could see that I was going to get trained and learn and blah, blah. And frankly, I won’t go into the doubt, but that was all true. That all played out.
So that’s interesting because you’re saying that you went to kind of global firms in a sense and you’ve described yourself on LinkedIn as a passionate builder of world-class businesses. So how do you define a world-class business? What can you give any examples of? Is it just being global? Presumably there’s much more to it than that.
Angus McKay (05:13)
No. Good, good. So for me, world class would be, you know, perhaps a few tests. One would be when you describe the industry that you’re in, someone turns around and then your firm is named as, you know, the exemplar there, you know, by reputation, by whatever, but you’re nominated as someone everyone recognizes within that field.
Secondly, when you’re in that field, that your peer companies, competitors would say actually you are the best or at that top level. So there’s competitive recognition of that. And then I think the third part is that when you’re in the organisation, that you are always being asked to grow and change and learn, rather than just, well, this is how we’ve done it for 20 years, we’re gonna do it that way.
So I think there’s a few relatively subjective tests. The ultimate non-subjective tests are, do you win. If you’re world class then by definition people recognize that they want your services, they want your products and therefore you have a disproportionate enjoyment of the market that you occupy.
In terms of winning has that changed? Do people define a win in a different way now in terms of the company, or is it simply about revenue? Is it simply about the number of customers that you?
Angus McKay (06:38)
Oh, look, I think there’s, you know, probably every person answers a little differently. Yeah. In my world, you know, a wins a win, which is you’re, you’re beating the people that you come against. And, and I often tell the team here at 7-11 that, you know, you’re wearing a competitive sport and I love a competitive sport, but, you know, done the right way, like all things, you know, our job is to beat the competitor.
And that gets measured in the number of things we sell, the number of customers that come into the store, the number of the customers that come back to our stores. You know, in the world of technology, it was much more head to head. I mean, you had accounts and you had choices around the technology partner you hired. And if you got the gig or retained the gig, you won. You know, so I sort of keep it pretty simple because I do think that’s the luxury we do have. We tend to…
We’re in a business where our job is to, in the right way. Your job is to win. Yeah. You want to, and, um, we’re an example here the other week where we’re, we’re entering into a new world and we’re participating in a tender and we didn’t win and I sort of said to the guys, I said, Oh no, don’t get me wrong.
And I don’t like losing, but you know, a loss is just a win that’s going to occur next year in that case. Yeah. You got to keep a sales mentality is just all around how you set yourself up for the next opportunity to get the win, rather than getting all down and despondent about it. But just because you’re big doesn’t mean you’re great. There’s many examples of big is actually quite average. So back to your original question, this for me is about a world-class business opportunity, your own personal performance, whatever it might be, you got to aspire to the highest, best level of attainment.
And that takes, you know, that starts with good leadership, doesn’t it? And I know that in your career, you’ve held various senior roles in finance and you’ve been in sectors from rail freight, ports operation through to New Zealand, milk, fosters, United distillers. It’s a varied resume from that perspective. What has been a significant influence on your approach to leadership?
Angus McKay (08:59)
Um, so I’m gonna say very first part, you gotta love what you do. You spend too much time behind a desk in an office, not with your family, not with your family and friends, traveling, all those things. If you don’t like it, if you don’t love it, don’t do it. So that for me is important because that thing goes to the enthusiasm you bring to being a leader.
Hopefully people enjoy being around you because you actually like doing what you do and therefore like gives you not just extra skin in the game but that extra what if in the job. It’s then about being authentic in the way in which you do it. So again, I couldn’t do my job if I authentically didn’t like it. I think people, you know, they spot the fake very, very quickly. And so for me as a leader, people, they get to hopefully see me on more days than not as an authentic passionate infused player, not as someone who’s trying to fake it.
It’s then about growth. So, you know, for me, part of what’s driven me to do different things in different worlds is growing and learning different industries and learning to practice skills in a different way in different environments with different kinds of people, let alone different geographies, different cultures, etc.
Um, and then the other part that goes with their hand in hand with that is change. You know, I, I really like change. I like being asked to change myself. Um, and I love, I suppose as a leader, being able to reflect that, you know, where we started and where we finished and hopefully where you finish is in a much better place than where you started as the team.
Do you think of yourself as fearless? And if so, how does that translate into business?
Angus McKay (11:02)
Ahh, fearless is probably not the term I’d use. I mean, there’s plenty of times where I have doubts and there is an element perhaps of where you do have to fake it at times there where you’ve got to trust the process, trust the team, but you’ve got to be brave and keep stepping over that line. So I’ve just used the word brave. So by definition, that does imply some degree of being able to put fear behind you, but it’s not fearless.
Being fearless says that you’re not actually wise to what you’re walking into and the risks that you need to be well and truly prepared to accept and quite frankly manage along the way. So I think having an element of, I’ll use the word trepidation, is important because I think it just makes you alert to what needs to get done, not blindly optimistic.
Very rarely can you just purely be blind about something. You do actually have to think about being across the risks as well as the opportunities and balancing those is what ultimately gets you to the right outcome rather than just charging ahead with your eyes closed and pretending there’s nothing to worry about.
Well, that’s quite a good point to kind of bring in 7-Eleven, I guess, in terms of your role there. So you’ve been there seven years, so seven years, and you came in at a time when the brand’s reputation was really quite low. And I wonder for you what’s been the key to rewriting the narrative around 7-Eleven’s business model and workplace compliance.
Angus McKay (12:37)
Yeah, looks so…The key, yeah, so the first thing is that the people you play with, so in my case, whether it be family, board, you know, my peers on the leadership team here and then the wider organisation, they’ve all got to believe in the answer that you’re collectively trying to get to.
So, you know, yes, as a leader, your job is to help define that answer. But you’ve got to have belief around you and trust that everybody is therefore going to play our individual roles and get into that end game.
There’s got to be trust to do it, you know, particularly as you embark upon changing some pretty entrenched notions or taking some steps that maybe not be, may not be the most popular things up front, but they’re the right things to do. And then that’s really the next thing, which is just, you’ve got to, I think, I like to believe you’ve got to have a very clear sense of where the compass is pointing. Yeah, you’ve got to be clear on where you want to get to, why you want to get there.
the way you’re going to do it so that you can do it in the appropriate way. But then you’ve got to stay the course. Yeah. You’ve got to have that belief that you’re heading in the right direction. So, you know, when I joined very quickly, we aligned on what we needed to do, why we need to do it and how we’re going to do it. And that, you know, all the way from the family, through the board, through the team that I play with then and now, you know, we, we have never had to waiver. We, we, we always felt that we were doing the right thing and that we were therefore doing the right thing for the business.
You know, what I’ve described probably is more the medium and the long-term rather than taking some shortcuts just to, you know, perhaps tick some results over that may have obfuscated some of the negativity we’re upfront or encountering. It was more around, this is the right thing to do, so let’s keep going.
So patience is part of that, having said that you were quite impatient at the beginning, yeah.
Angus McKay (14:29)
Oh, that’s not a word that anyone would ever put at my doorstep. I’m not, I’m not.
Yeah, I’m not a patient person. I think it’s just um…It’s probably more around actually just being clear on the steps to get to the end journey, but being impatient to get through them as quickly as you can. But you know, very rarely can you skip steps. You know, you sort of go through it. You’ve got to go through the progression. The question is, can you find a way to accelerate through the progression and get there faster as distinct from fine shortcuts to getting there?
And change is key to that, obviously. And in this particular instance, it was fundamental. And you’ve already mentioned there about having some entrenched views or behaviors. So that’s unsettling for employees. And 7-Eleven is a franchise. So obviously, the franchise is as well. How do you navigate organisational change successfully?
Angus McKay (15:23)
Uh, look, I think if you spoke to some of my colleagues, I’ll probably tell you, you know, Angus, you could go back to school on this one. You need some help. Oh, look, I think the first part is you’ve got to be clear around what you want to do. You know, that’s part one. So set the vision to the, you’ve then got to bring people into the vision. So, you know, that, that wonderful notion that it’s all well and good to get to the place that you’ve defined, but if no one’s beside you or around you, that’s, that’s not particularly good. So you’ve got to have people who want to be part of that journey, not passengers. You want people that are going to be in it with you. And therefore it becomes a collective outcome.
I think then you’ve got to communicate. You’ve got to be really clear on not just what you’re going to do, but how you’re doing it and how you’re going against it so that people feel the sense of change.
And the degree to which you can tell people what it will feel like or look like, painting that picture of where they’re going is really helpful, but helping people just track the journey. You know, I was just in a conversation before and someone said, Oh, we presented this to you six months ago. I said, are you sure it was six months ago? And they said, well, maybe. And then we worked out it was actually 10 months ago and how time flies. So how do you therefore map and track your progress against things that actually are longer forms of endeavor.
Maybe back to, I enjoy numbers and math. Part of that is therefore the targets you set for yourself. That’s where we want to get to. So what are the steps you’re going to get through so you can go, yeah, we’ve got it. Or if we haven’t, how are we going to recalibrate, et cetera. And then look, I think then the final one is probably back to the leader pieces that people need to believe that you believe.
And I said, you can’t be, you’ve got to be always authentic. There can be no lack of authenticity in that process, but you’ve got to clearly demonstrate that you are prepared to stay the journey, even when it gets a little hard or a little awkward, that you’re prepared to just say, no, I’m still here, we’re going to keep going, and this is why. So that, you know, for those moments of nervousness, others don’t feel so nervous and equally when you get a bit nervous that you’ve got other people who can clip you around the back of the head and say hey Angus yeah we expect you to not.
So those would be sort of the hallmarks but yeah I think having a plan, being able to measure your plan and then being able to communicate your plan is um those would probably be the steps that I’d try and write my book about.
And in terms of a business, I mean every business has got friction. And what would you think the elements of friction are? Friction points are 7-11 at the moment.
Angus McKay (18:16)
Yes, it’s friction. Friction is good because friction provides traction. You know, if things aren’t brushing up against each other, then, you know, you’re quite frankly, probably not engaging enough. So for me, inside of the business, you actually want to have the right conversations occurring, because that’s how you get the best out of the overall conversation.
Inside of us, we’re probably no different to any other retailer, which is we want…more customers, we want them more often and we want them buying more stuff from us. So you’ve got frictions around the way in which you do that, you know, price promo, advertising, the rate of which stores execute. I mean, all those normal, I’ll just say tension points exist within 7-Eleven. The game is how you deal with the ones that are absolutely critical, you know, and that you don’t argue over the stuff that frankly doesn’t make a difference, but where you are really dealing with the critical intense moments that are going to make a big difference that’s where you want everybody fully vested in, you know, ultimately making sure that everyone’s aware of the different points of view, but ultimately and finally, the world arrive at the same point of view and we execute against a single point of view and not pull apart and therefore not touch.
You know, a retail business is, like most businesses, but we’re a chain business, there’s nothing that we do in store that is brilliant. That doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been brilliantly conceived, brilliantly planned, brilliantly ordered, and then brilliantly executed in store. If any one of those events fail, then you end up with a dud proposition inside of your store.
And so what specific business markers do you use to evaluate success or evaluate where you are in terms of your strategy, long-term strategy?
Angus McKay (20:12)
Yeah, so we have a long-term strategy, so we’ve got a very clear view where we want to be. In our case, we’ve got a 10-year horizon, we know what that is. That plan, if you like, has got some real ambition in it, so there’s elements of that plan that we don’t know how to do. And, you know, so for us, I think where we’re perhaps a little bit different is being quite comfortable that you don’t have all the answers today is okay, your job is to go and
not serve up a plan for which you’ve got all the answers, because then that’s not really a plan. That’s just a, that’s an executional path. So we’ve got a very clear view financially, where we’re gonna go from a category perspective and where we wanna go, how we think the categories play out. And yeah, we constantly are therefore testing that, so, you know, where do we think food might be in one year or five years time? Where do we think petroleum be in one year or five years time?
And then, constantly trying to anchor ourselves in the reality of that rather than what we think. You know, we all have our own point of view on things and that sometimes is very out of sync with the real world. So coming back to reality and then it’s you translate that back down into from a 10 year plan to ultimately what is a quarter budget. And then we break that down by month and we execute by quarter.
So we have all the mathematics that adds up and we constantly test ourselves back against that mathematical set of outcomes. We then look at the customer around what we’re trying to do from a customer perspective, in terms of the engagement we have with them, the numbers that we get to play with, the number of times we might play with the customer and have a hypothesis around what that looks like.
We do the same around our brand in terms of the interaction that we want people to have with our brand and what that looks and feels like.
And then we’ll break that down equally down to the capability of our organisation. So, you know, what type of skills we have today, what type of skills we think we need tomorrow or the year after or the year after. And how do you then map a plan to, you know, either morph your organisation to the new capability mix that you want in a few years time. You know, what are you going to actually buy? Maybe what you borrow or build is an expression we use in the business. But, you know, those capabilities go against your strategic plan.
You want them in the business early enough that you can actually deliver your plan, not too late that you miss your opportunity. And you regularly, you then just tempering that because it all sounds good on a, you know, a hundred point PowerPoint deck. But you know, the reality is it changes pretty quickly after you put it together.
And how important is the internal structure to achieving those? I mean, you’ve talked about looking ahead and working out where you need to bring in employees and where the strengths are. But you did change the internal structure or how the business operates. And so can you just talk us through a little bit about your thinking behind that?
Angus McKay (23:17)
Yeah, so very specifically we flipped our organisation near three years ago from a traditional hierarchy, you know, where you’ve got managers and people that report into managers, and we flipped ourselves into an agile structure. So one whereby there’s still a hierarchy, don’t get me wrong, and you know, there’s still me the CEO and we’ve still got, if you like, people that we bring in an entry level in the business. The difference is that we organise the business into squads. So working groups that have got very clear expectations over a quarter, a half year, a year, whatever the right period of time is around what they need to collectively do as a squad. But the squad is not made up of a group of people from one function. It’s actually cross functional.
So, you know, if you’re in a squad that’s going to be launching, let’s just say, a new sandwich, you would have in that someone who knows how to run a category, you’d have someone in there that might be a product developer, particularly a food product developer. You might have someone in there that is actually all around understanding the customers that we play with and other one around logistics. So the team is fully equipped from a capability perspective, obviously broken down
to go and actually deliver the outcome. And that outcome might be that in two quarters time, we want to put two new SKUs into the marketplace. Their job is go away and do it. They’re fully resource to do it. And the difference between that and a traditional structure is that’s where you go to get it done. You know, that’s their only role. They manage their own work program. They manage the inputs. They reprioritise dynamically to do it. What their job is, is to hit the deadline that is.perhaps predefined for them.
So we’re three years into that. We’re really delighted with how it’s gone. It’s been an unbelievably steep learning curve for us. We’ve found that we’ve had people who just absolutely love it and you watch them grow faster than you could ever believe they were capable of doing. And then you have some people that it’s just not quite there for because it is a highly accountable structure. There’s… nowhere to look, you can’t blame your boss. You gotta sit there in the team and go, well, we’re not doing what we need to do, so therefore what are we going to do to keep it on track? That’s giving us speed, that’s allowing us to do more things than we have been able to do before. It’s being able, it’s allowing us to do things that we haven’t conceived we could do, because the squad finds a way to do it, it’s shaping the capability of those people.
So whilst you might be in there performing at what we would define as a craft, your skill base, you’re being asked to help a group of your fellow workmates out to get a job done. So you, in many cases, you actually lift things that you perhaps hadn’t planned to lift in a day or a week. But finally, what it gives you is growth.
We’ve got people here who are doing things at a very early age in their career that they would never be doing in a hierarchical structure. They’d be waiting a few years before their boss allowed them to do that kind of stuff. Here, you get in and you help each other be successful. And it’s working a trick, working an absolute trick.
Can I ask you, when I think about the things that we read about regularly at 7-Eleven, it’s technology and sustainability come to mind as two areas of growth. Can you just talk briefly about how those kind of sit within your strategy?
Angus McKay (27:06)
Can you just briefly explain how those possibilities work? Yeah, so, if I take just technology, at one level it is just an enabler for us, so therefore having the right tools to do the jobs that we all need to do. In other places, like specific to loyalty, if I use an example, it’s more than an enabler, it’s actually a business dream for us.
From an enable perspective, it fits in as a cost line, keeping it quite crude and how do we actually be as efficient as we possibly can? And that’s really important, but it’s not a business driver. From a loyalty case perspective, it’s all around how do we invest in technology to actually grow revenue, to grow our customer count, to grow obviously the loyalty of the customers in there. So it features as a way to drive our business.
And in the case of loyalty, and I suppose digitalisation to actually expand the degree to which we’re playing in that space. So we’ve got a very clear ambition that by 2030 we want nearly 30 per cent of all of our transactions to be completely digital. Loyalty is an underpinning component of that. You know we would sit at near 14 per cent today after having started this maybe two years ago. So yeah we’ve already made great progress but we know to get to 30 you know our rate of improvement will probably slow a little bit.
Our job now though is to just keep, if you like, feeding that in the right sense. Sustainability, slightly different. You know, more an ethos, which is that, you know, we believe in wanting to run a sustainable organisation. So that doesn’t just purely go to the notion of eco-sustainability, it’s other forms of sustainability. And therefore, how does that apply back to what we do?, from the products we sell to the energy we consume, the energy we produce, et cetera.
And then that’s a case of saying to these squads, which is almost lens one, if you’re thinking about doing something, are you thinking about this with a sustainability lens on it? And then that probably gets a little bit more complex because in some cases, the most sustainable outcome is not a commercial outcome. And yeah, the customer perhaps doesn’t want to pay for that right now.
So how do we then think about getting to that point without actually, you know, call it hurting the business model, but upfront it’s a lens that everyone is expected to look at and say, well, actually there’s a way to do this in a more sustainable fashion. And here’s how we might evolve to, you know, call it the ultimate definition of that. But we’ve got to get onto the journey of that in the things we do.
So how does it feature? We have a unique sustainability strategy within our business. It’s defined over, you know, four pillars, those pillars are entrenched into the organisation and we track ourselves against KPIs that are painted over the next five years in that particular case. The near term KPIs, we’re very confident. Some of the longer term ones, we’re just going to drive towards that. We don’t quite know how we’re going to do it. Back to my theme, you don’t need to have all the answers today. You just have to be committed to getting to the answer.
Do you think business is instinctive or do you think it’s a mindset that you can develop?
Angus McKay (30:29)
I’ll probably start with the latter. I think it’s a mindset you can develop, but I think then instinct does kick in. But I think good business is also systematic, and big business, which you’re unfortunate to be a part of, it can’t rely upon one or two people with great instincts. You need system process, and therefore by definition, the mindset that facilitates that. Again, I go back to that retail thing, which is..we’ve got some really bright instinctive people here and I love them. But if we can’t bring those ideas to life in 750 stores, well, it’s just a great idea. Yeah. And that’s the, that’s the difference in our world is, you know, it’s got to be brought to life in 750 stores and that’s not instinct that actually is process. Um, at a customer facing level, it’s probably is more instinct. You know, there is system of process that goes with it, but
You know, people that are great with customers, it’s just part of their DNA. And you can’t really program that. You’re trying to find that in the marketplace. And yeah, we all know as customers, you recognise that when you get great service, it’s not programmed, it’s actually easy. And you feel like you’re being valued by that person on the other side. And you will freely probably pay a lot more money for it because you are being valued by… you know, call that provider their service. So I think that perhaps is more akin to instinct than it is system.
And in terms of takeaways for small business owners, everything that you’ve done and you’ve talked about, can that be scaled? I mean, is it just a question of scale? You rely on processes, you create processes, or is there, I mean, do you think business is the same at whatever level you’re working at? I guess is my question.
Angus McKay (32:24)
I don’t know how to answer that. I’ll probably let me answer it another way, which probably fails to answer your question. But look, I do think in business system and process is really, really important. I do also think though the nature of taking good calculated risks is equally really important. That can give you the leverage that you need. And once you’ve come up with a concept, perhaps by taking that calculated risk, that’s when you can then look to systematise it to, to, I suppose, knock the riskiness out of it, so to speak.
So to small business, I think, good small business people, they’re not just instinctive, they do convert that into something that is of a sustainable nature, but probably it starts with an element of instinct, an element of, dare I use the word entrepreneurialism that sort of gets them over that line, that will, that desire, that passion to make something actually happen and then the question is well, you don’t want it just happening once you want that happening many times and by definition therefore you can’t have that same passion and act if you’re like replicated, you need system and process to kick in behind that.
So the small business you know it is you know it is all around you know you got to keep thinking the big ideas the things that will change the things that will distinguish you to the rest of the people you play against but once you’ve got that and you can then turn that into a replicable thing, jump to make it replicable. Cause that then allows you to then go about and think about the next thing that will call it be your next winning idea and the one after that. And eventually you end up probably if you’re good enough with a big business. But yeah, at a point you’ve got to go, now I’ve got to make this a replicable activity in order to get the customer the…same outcome every single time because that’s what they demand. They don’t want, in some cases, they don’t want variability of the customer and they just want the same thing delivered reliably, cleanly, precisely.
Well, I think that’s a great place to end. So thank you so much. It’s been really great having a chat today, Angus. Thank you.
Angus McKay (34:39)
You’re welcome. You’re really welcome.
Angus McKay, CEO of 7-Eleven Australia, describes himself as both impatient and highly competitive.
“We’re in a business where our job is, in the right way, to win,” he says.
In this podcast Angus explains how he flipped 7-Eleven’s traditional hierarchy to a highly-accountable, agile structure and what impact the change has had on the business.
He talks about the role of innovation in technology and applying the lens of sustainability at the convenience store chain.
The key to bringing a great idea to life across 750 stores is all about process, he says.
“Good business is systematic,” he says.
Risk-taking key to business success
Angus also references authenticity and accountability as key elements of business.
“I like being asked to change myself and I love as a leader being able to reflect where we started and where we finish.”
Trusting the process and the team, he says, is crucial to managing change. And he believes in being brave, but not fearless.
“Fearless is not wise to the risks you are walking in to. Having an element of trepidation is important, it makes you alert, not blindly optimistic,” he says.
Angus talks about instinct and risk-taking in business, and good leadership.
“You’ve got to love what you do. You spend too much time behind a desk, not with your family and friends, travelling. If you don’t like it, if you don’t love it, don’t do it.
“That goes to the enthusiasm you bring as a leader,” he says.
Angus McKay took on the CEO role after 7-Eleven had hit a reputational low point because of poor workplace compliance among franchisees.
He has pushed innovation across the business, including the introduction of a new look store.
Among structural changes there is an improved process for franchisee field support.
The business is embracing sustainability in its strategy.
In the conversation Angus referenced the volume of SKUs in the convenience chain. SKUs are the unique sales codes applied to every type of item for sale.