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7-Eleven Banks On Shoppers Going For Mobile Checkout

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at July 21, 2021

Customers shopping at more than 3,000 7-Elevens across 32 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. will have the option of paying for their purchases without having to stop at a checkstand, now that the convenience store giant has expanded the availability of its proprietary Mobile Checkout technology. 7-Eleven plans to roll out the service to its more than 9,000 primarily franchised stores by the end of 2022.

In an online discussion last week on RetailWire, members the BrainTrust of industry experts saw this move as one that will soon be adopted industry-wide.

“If we call the store type ‘convenient,’ then it should be convenient from as many aspects as possible,” wrote Bob Amster, principal at Retail Technology Group. “That includes mobile checkout.”

“This will absolutely be important, especially in the convenience channel,” said Gary Sankary, retail industry strategy at Esri. “The value proposition for these stores is fast and easy transactions. This extends that value proposition for many of their customers. 7-Eleven has been bold about trying new technology to engage their customers, this is a great example. I do believe they will have an edge competitively because they’ve tried and tested these technologies.”

“Although not all customers will want or indeed use this, having this option available is great for those who want to get in and out of the store very quickly,” wrote Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData. “It is doing exactly what 7-Eleven stores are supposed to do: be convenient!”

But according to one BrainTrust member, 7-Eleven is already behind.

“Welcome to the 21st Century!” wrote Lee Peterson, EVP of thought leadership and marketing at WD Partners. “I guess it is better late than never, but c’mon, Starbucks is working on their second decade with this technology and Sweden tested a ‘cashless’ city four years ago! Surely the writing was on the wall. Regardless, the sooner we all (retailers) get to no-contact/cashless the better IMO and this will help in terms of scale.”

The checkout feature is available on 7-Eleven’s app. Customers can use the app to scan purchases as they shop and pay for them without having to wait in line or interact with a cashier. Shoppers make transactions via Apple Pay or Google Pay, a credit or debit card or through the 7-Eleven Wallet feature on the app. Some purchases, including alcohol, tobacco and lottery tickets, will still need to be handled at checkout in the traditional manner.

One BrainTrust member, Raj B. Shroff, founder of PINE Strategy & Design, does not see the trend catching on immediately.

“I don’t see how mobile checkout can become table stakes in the c-store channel over the next year,” wrote Mr. Shroff. “I think a few more might be running tests. Most retailers are too far behind technologically and, while I believe there is a need, it’s likely not a high priority for many of them. Most shoppers are probably OK with a traditional SCO machine or just waiting in line for a minute. And with the high percentage of alcohol purchases in this channel, mobile pay doesn’t work for a large percentage of trips.”

Members of the convenience retailer’s 7Rewards program can use the app to redeem points they have accumulated to pay for purchases and receive special pricing deals and coupons. The company is offering members a limited-time incentive to try the tool, awarding 10-times the points every time they use it to make a purchase. 

The convenience store chain sees its technology as a key selling point. It launched a $70 million national ad campaign in the spring to let Americans know that today’s stores are not the same 7-Elevens they once were. The company has set aggressive expansion targets with plans to eventually grow the business to around 20,000 locations around the U.S.

But some on RetailWire’s BrainTrust pointed out that neither all convenience stores nor all customers are, at the moment, on the path to leverage technology like 7-Eleven is offering.

“It will take longer than a year for mobile pay to be table stakes in the c-store given the industry structure,” wrote Steve Montgomery, president of B2B Solutions. “Almost 100,000 of the industry’s 150,000 locations are owned or operated by retail companies of one to 10 stores. That segment of the industry will need their technology suppliers to develop customized or white label apps for them to use.”

“For the larger [chains] it may work, but even they will deal with a customer base that this technology is so foreign to,” wrote Ian Leslie, senior director of retail advocacy at Bolt. “But the smaller chains likely won’t have the bandwidth to create this level of technology on their apps and serve it. So again a good experience: Yes. But the norm? I don’t think so.”

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