7-Eleven has never really been seen as a technology innovator. It was a product innovator -- creating Slurpees and hamburgers shaped like hot dogs -- but in the tech sense, it operated like any other convenience store.
In recent months, however, the company has stepped up its innovation and it's now testing out a pilot cashierless store at its corporate headquarters in Texas. If the concept of a convenience store with a cashier sounds familiar, it's because Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has been testing the same concept its Go stores.
What is 7-Eleven doing?
The convenience store company is getting ready in case Amazon's efforts create new shopping expectations from consumers.
"Retail technology is evolving at a rapid pace and customer expectations are driving the evolution," said 7-Eleven CEO Joe DePinto in a press release.
The store, which is 700-square feet, uses what the company calls a "proprietary mixture of algorithms and predictive technology" to let the store know what each customer is buying. Shoppers use a dedicated app to shop in the store. They have to check-in when they arrive at the pilot location and receive a detailed receipt showing what they bought after they leave.
It's about keeping up
Amazon has not yet proven that consumers truly want cashier-free stores. This effort, however, is 7-Eleven being prepared in case that happens. It's a way to be ready if Amazon Go creates a new normal for convenience store technology.