7-Eleven is trying to speed up checkouts to keep pace with rivals.
The world's largest convenience chain is piloting a self-checkout feature on its mobile app at 14 stores in Dallas. 7-Eleven's scan-and-pay option will allow customers to ring up Slurpees and snacks without waiting in line. Purchases will be linked to 7-Eleven's loyalty rewards program.
7-Eleven (SVNDF) has around 11,800 stores in North America, and it plans to expand scan-and-pay to more stores.
The test comes as big retailers, including Walmart (WMT), Target (TGT), and Dollar General (DG), are experimenting with different ways to make checking out easier for shoppers in stores through apps. Walmart and Target are stationing employees with mobile scanners in high-traffic aisles during the holidays.
Walmart is also testing a cashierless Sam's Club Now store in Dallas. Sam's Club Now is 32,000 square feet, a quarter of the size of a regular Sam's Club, and will sell mostly fresh food and alcohol. The idea for the store evolved from the Sam's Club Scan and Go app, which lets customers scan barcodes and pay directly within its app.
These new concepts are a direct threat to convenience and fast-food chains. To target younger shoppers and retouch their images, 7-Eleven, Cumberland Farms and Wawa are redesigning stores and improving fresh food and drink selections.
"This is 7-Eleven's play at amplifying convenience," said Catherine Lang, an analyst at Kantar Consulting who researches discount and convenience stores. "They're feeling pressure from Amazon in fresh food."
7-Eleven has not announced any plans for cashier-free stores. She expects 7-Eleven to roll out mobile ordering on its app next.