This Is What Sets Wawa Apart

The convenience retailer is all about the customer, thanks to human-centered technology.

January 10, 2023

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Wawa customers see Wawa as “their Wawa,” as the company and EY Consulting have worked to balance exceptional innovation and personalized service that always puts the customer first, reports Fast Company.

“Innovation is not these big endeavors. They’re quick hits. It’s the ability to add a different service or capability or channel and do it with a velocity that means something to the consumer, where [they think] ‘wow, it’s Wawa,’” John Collier, CIO, Wawa, told Fast Company.

Collier says that Wawa serves three parts of the customer journey, what they need to eat, what they need to fuel with and offering them the center store or the convenience aspect of their business. The company has also built a multi-faceted digital platform to aid in this journey.

“The challenge [for Wawa] was how do you take your [digital] strategy through a transformation to operations,” said Yang Shim, EY Americas technology consulting lead, Ernest & Young. “This is where EY’s collaboration with Wawa comes [in].”

EY and Wawa focused on the connected experience, market expansion and a design principle that allowed for the right technology to be built and implemented for the Wawa customer journey.

“The attributes for that design principle are speed, scalability, flexibility, agility and most importantly, having a human center,” said Shim.

Collier says the power of Wawa is its employees, and automated technology allows employees more time to take care of customers and make sure their needs are met.

“How can we give the associate that information at their fingertips without disrupting that relationship or that conversation [with a customer]?” said Collier. “[How do we] free up that associate to focus on the customer rather than the sales side of things?”

Shim says this focus on customers is why a multi-channel platform is important to Wawa.

“Wawa needed a cloud-native platform that allowed them ‘rinse-and-repeat’ technology assets, giving [Wawa] a continuum of focusing on the customer experience and journey,” said Shim.

He said there was an importance around building one data platform and leveraging emerging technology, such as AI and insights, and connecting that to the customer experience, so that Wawa knows the needs of a customer in real time.

“We’re not thinking about what’s needed for today,” said Shim. “We’re thinking about the evolution of different value chains that are needed for Wawa’s [customers] and giving them a better experience for the future.”

Watch the full video interview of Collier and Shim here.

Wawa discussed its social purpose with NACS in the 2021 Ideas 2 Go video series. For more on how convenience retailers are engaging customers, read “Today’s Customer Journey” in NACS Magazine.