7-Eleven to take a page from Starbucks with a café concept
Future 7-Eleven customers could have the option to stop and stay awhile instead of grabbing a Slurpee and a hot dog and leaving, that is, if a new concept the chain is now piloting catches on.
7-Eleven has opened a new test store in Dallas, TX, according to Convenience Store News, that features an in-store restaurant and a café serving coffee drinks, smoothies and other beverages. The in-store restaurant, Laredo Taco Co., was part of 7-Eleven’s acquisition of the Sunoco gas station/convenience store chain last year. The concept is the first of six stores that the chain plans to open nationwide to test new ideas.
Despite already being one of the biggest names in convenience stores in the U.S., 7-Eleven has been pursuing a strategy of both aggressive expansion and experimentation in recent years.
The chain’s acquisition of more than 1,000 Sunoco locations boosted its number of stores in the U.S. and Canada to around 9,700.
And the company also began piloting new technological solutions in some locations, such as mobile ordering, delivery and in-store pickup in an attempt to meet a growing customer demand for omnichannel services.
But these strategic moves have occurred against the backdrop of tension between 7-Eleven franchise owners and the Japan-based mother company.
Last year, 7-Eleven corporate announced a new contract for franchisees beginning in 2019, which required a $50,000 re-signing fee as reported in the Orlando Sentinel. This along with other demands, such as increased profit sharing with the mother company and staying open on Christmas, led to a dispute with the National Coalition of Associations of 7-Eleven Franchisees.
Such conflicts raise questions about how franchisees might react were they suddenly called upon to adequately staff and operate cafés alongside the traditional convenience store portion of the business.
While the look and feel of a 7-Eleven location in the U.S. is quite familiar, abroad the company has experimented with concepts. In Taiwan, one 7-Eleven has even added a gym to its offerings, according to Forbes.
- 7-Eleven Opening Six Test Stores to Try Out New Concepts – Convenience Store News
- 7-Eleven® Tests Mobile Ordering, Delivery and In-store Pickup with new 7-ElevenNOW App – 7-Eleven
- 7-Eleven at odds with franchisees over new agreements – Orlando Sentinel
- A 7-Eleven Where You Can Work Out? Why Retailers May Want To Study Taiwan’s Convenience Stores – Forbes
- What will 7-Eleven do with all its new stores? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think an in-store café will work at 7-Eleven? How might franchisees respond to new demands for additional services that spiral out of the test stores?