- 7-Eleven has launched a search for artificial intelligence- and augmented reality-powered solutions to help simplify its store operations and improve the customer experience in its 13,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada, according to an emailed announcement Monday.
- The company tapped True, a “retail and consumer investment and innovation firm,” to help with its search for technology partners that can help it “save time and reduce task load,” 7-Eleven said in the announcement.
- The move echoes Circle K’s Venture Fund, which was also created to pair the chain with technology companies that can help enhance its store operations.
Simplifying store operations means allowing store associates to make decisions more quickly and easily, 7-Eleven said. This could be done through solutions that help with product assortment and placement, inventory tracking and visibility, and cutting down on food waste.
7-Eleven is also seeking a solution that can make daily staff tasks — including foodservice prepping, customer support, inventory and more — more efficient.
The company positioned its search for new technology as a way of helping store associates “focus on the consumer and provide them excellent service,” according to the news release.
At the same time, convenience stores are struggling to recruit and retain workers, and automated technology promises to help retailers maintain, and even boost, productivity levels against that backdrop.
Working with 7-Eleven is True’s entrance into the convenience store space. The company, whose mission is to help reshape businesses, works with nearly 50 brands in the food and beverage, apparel, health, leisure and technology sectors.
True uses its own network of partners, investors and technology leaders to build connections with the businesses it's helping, such as 7-Eleven.
7-Eleven’s latest “innovation challenge” isn’t the first time the convenience store industry has seen an initiative of this nature. In 2020, Circle K launched its Venture Fund, a series of investments in startup companies.
As of February 2022, Circle K had invested around $55 million into several different companies, including Food Rocket, Farmstead, Pensa Systems and Jackpocket.