Tacos, craft beer, and patio seating?
Yeah, this isn't your typical 7-Eleven.
The convenience-store chain opened its first-ever US lab store in Dallas on March 22. The store represents a stark departure from what many 7-Eleven patrons may have come to expect, featuring a taco stand and even a selection of wine.
"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," 7-Eleven executive vice president and chief operating officer Chris Tanco said in a statement.
Indeed, with the rise of Amazon Go's cashierless, grab-and-go stores, the time is ripe for convenience chains to differentiate themselves from the pack. And the lab store's investment in treats like frozen yogurt, fresh-baked goods, and local craft beers likely reflects an interest in transforming 7-Eleven into more of a destination.
"7-Eleven stays at the forefront by pushing the boundaries and being unafraid to try new things," Tanco said.
“A lot has changed in retail and continues to change rapidly, especially the shopping experience,” Tanco said. “This lab store is customer-focused and will explore new ideas that weren't even on the retail radar a few months ago.”
7-Eleven stores carry a range of coffee beverages today, but the lab store has a few customizable tricks up its sleeve. Selections include kombucha, nitro cold brew, organic tea, cold-pressed juices, and even aguas frescas.
"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," Tanco said in a statement.