7-Eleven became the latest retailer to experiment with a new convenience store format this month, unveiling a “Lab Store” in Dallas, Texas that features everything from street tacos to a craft beer refilling station.
Dubbed an “experimental testing ground” by 7-Eleven officials, the lab store debuted on March 22. The location features indoor and outdoor seating and a streamlined checkout process that allows customers to pay through their phones.
The store’s food and beverage options include a coffee and smoothie bar, a station called “The Cellar” selling wine and craft beers, a frozen yogurt and ice cream bar and various baked goods that are made on site. In addition, the experimental format includes alcohol beverages on tap and a Laredo Taco Company counter, featuring handmade tortillas and various Tex-Mex offerings.
“Convenience retailing is light years away from the days of bread and milk being sold from ice docks in 1927, and the industry is changing at a faster rate than ever before,” said Chris Tanco, 7-Eleven executive vice president and chief operating officer. “7-Eleven stays at the forefront by pushing the boundaries and being unafraid to try new things. This new lab store will serve as a place to test, learn and iterate new platforms and products to see what really resonates with customers and how we can use those learnings to influence future store designs.”
The store’s launch came as Amazon explores an entry into the convenience store marketplace. The e-commerce giant has experimented with several cashier-less “Amazon Go” convenience stores, with plans to open as many as 3,000 locations by 2021, according to a Bloomberg report.
A 7-Eleven representative said the chain has plans for a nationwide launch of its experimental store format, though it’s unclear how many locations will be opened.