Wawa in Miami, Florida
When I began authoring this column, I never thought I’d refer to a convenience store as a destination or an experience. The opening of three Wawa stores in Miami has changed that. (There are now more than 100 stores in Florida.) One of the first things I noticed is the parking lot that surrounds the entire store. Entering the store from the rear, I was immediately greeted by attractive merchandising. This store is a great experience from all angles. The Miami flair includes popular Hispanic espresso drinks like cafecitos, coladas, cortaditos and cafe con leche.
- There is a nice array of refrigerated drinks, snack items and confections. Notice the Beer Cooler in the background. It has a great selection of products in a variety of pack sizes. Note the asymmetrical layout of the gondolas, which improves the feel of the experience.
- Wawa Florida has its own Facebook page. This post reflects the chain’s efforts to specifically serve the Hispanic market. Check out the large number of reactions and comments. Can you imagine a lemonade with lemons, strawberries and jalapeno peppers?
- A convenience store with retailtainment? C’mon! This young lady with the big smile was the emcee. That piece of paper on the counter is a list of silly jokes that she announced every five minutes. If shoppers got the right answer, they received a $5 gift card on this day. A joke while I was in the store: Why did the baby strawberry cry? Answer: His mom was in a jam!
- There is a walk-up window that takes advantage of pedestrian traffic. Note items on the menu like empanadas, cortaditos, coladas, cafecitos, and cafe con leche – all designed to serve the local community. Not bad for a retailer that has its roots in Philadelphia.
- The food service area dominates. Customers can place orders on digital kiosks. Breakfast, lunch and dinner items as well as beverages and fresh baked goods are featured on the kiosk and the Wawa mobile app. I watched several orders being placed and delivered, and the process was quite efficient.
- The mobile app is extremely intuitive and allows you to place orders well ahead of pickup. There are more than 200 items that can be purchased through the app. Additionally, there is a “Favorites” function within the menu that allows you to save regularly purchased items.
- Wawa seemingly has as strong of a presence in social media as any retailer. They have almost a cult presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr (shown here). Their good will, imagination and presence is a strong formula for the loyalty they enjoy.
- So, what could an air pump for your car have to do with the shopping experience? Sometimes it’s the little things that can create quite an impression. In this case, use of the pump is free, while most c-stores charge for the air. Additionally, Wawa offers fee-free cash machines and free Wi-Fi, all of which is noted prominently in the store. It’s about loyalty.