7-Eleven Inc. is testing a cashierless store at its corporate headquarters in Irving, Texas. During the pilot, the 700-square-foot nontraditional store is available to 7-Eleven employees only.
"Retail technology is evolving at a rapid pace, and customer expectations are driving the evolution," said Joe DePinto, president and CEO of 7-Eleven. "Our team is dedicated to continuing 7-Eleven's legacy of innovation with industry-leading digital solutions. Most recently, that has included our award-winning 7Rewards loyalty platform, 7Now on-demand delivery, mobile checkout and now our new cashierless store."
A proprietary mixture of algorithms and predictive technology enables the store system to separate individual customers and their purchases from others in the store. The concept store offers an assortment of popular products sold in 7-Eleven stores, including beverages, snacks, food, groceries, over-the-counter drugs and nonfood items. The product mix will continue to be refined.
"Ultimately, our goal is to exceed consumers' expectations for faster, easier transactions and a seamless shopping experience," said Mani Suri, senior vice president and chief information officer for 7-Eleven. "Introducing new store technology to 7-Eleven employees first has proven to be a very productive way to test and learn before launching to a wider audience. They are honest and candid with their feedback, which enables us to learn and quickly make adjustments to improve the experience. This in-house, custom-built technology by 7-Eleven engineers is designed for our current and future customers. We continue to innovate, and coupling fresh, innovative, healthy food options with a frictionless shopping experience could be a game changer."
7-Eleven's new unit is among several now being tested by a variety of food retailers who see frictionless stores as a means to provide new convenience for shoppers and the ability to take retail to new places while providing potential operational and marketing advantages. Ahold Delhaize is testing a proprietary concept called Lunchbox at its Quincy, Mass., offices while separately testing "Nanostores" in Europe in partnership with the Santa Clara, Calif.-based technology firm AiFi. A bevy of computer vision technology companies such as Grabango and Trigo Vision are also piloting in retail stores. Amazon Go pioneered the concept in 2018. It too spent considerable time in test mode with employees.
Shopping in the new cashierless 7-Eleven store is simple. To test the store, employees download an app, sign up, check in at the store, enter the store, shop and exit. A detailed receipt appears in the app automatically after the customer exits.
This latest project follows on the heels of 7-Eleven's Mobile Checkout feature, allowing customers to skip the line and pay using their smartphone in stores at pilot locations. 7Now delivery services take the 7-Eleven brand out of the store, enabling customers to order and have products delivered to them.
Based in Irving, Texas, 7-Eleven operates, franchises or licenses more than 70,000 stores in 17 countries, including 11,800 in North America. 7-Eleven is No. 1 in CSP’s 2019 Top 202 ranking of c-store chains by number of retail outlets.
A version of this story was published on CSP Daily News, a WGB sister site.