7-Eleven has opened its first U.S. lab store in Dallas for the retailer to test new products, services and layouts. The store’s emphasis on innovation includes freshy made baked goods, an in-store restaurant and both patio and inside dining areas.
The store includes a Laredo Taco Company taqueria, which will provide handmade tortillas and a salsa bar, along with tacos, quesadillas and other quick-serve meals. Less common menu items and ingredients include carne guisada, barbacoa, picadillo bistec, carnitas and breakfast tacos. Other features include:
- Made-to-order coffee drinks, cold-pressed juices, smoothies and agua frescas;
- “The Cellar,” an area dedicated to wine and craft beer that includes draft pours and a growler filling station;
- A frozen treat station that offers frozen yogurt and ice cream with multiple toppings; and
- Cookies, crescents and other baked goods made daily in-store; and
- Digital initiatives such as Scan & Pay.
Many of the new features will be available for a limited time only, allowing 7-Eleven to quickly rotate and test out new ideas.
"A lot has changed in retail and continues to change rapidly, especially the shopping experience," said Chris Tanco, EVP and COO of 7-Eleven. "This lab store is customer-focused and will explore new ideas that weren't even on the retail radar a few months ago."
Other retailers are also eyeing ways to improve the food buying experience. Starbucks recently invested $100 million in Valor Siren Ventures, a new fund with plans to grow the next generation of food and retail startups. The retailer also is aiming to improve the in-store experience, starting with updates to select New York City locations for improved convenience, comfort and connection.
Additionally, McDonald’s is updating the drive-thru experience through the acquisition of Dynamic Yield, an AI-powered omnichannel personalization solution provider. The restaurant giant will harness Dynamic Yield’s capabilities to provide personalized menus that show food items based on time of day, weather, current restaurant traffic and trending menu items.
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