The Wonderful World of Wawa

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Who is Wawa?

Wawa Inc. began in 1803 as an iron foundry in New Jersey. Toward the end of the 19th Century, owner George Wood took an interest in dairy farming and the family began a small processing plant in Wawa, PA, in 1902. The milk business was a huge success, due to its quality, cleanliness and certified process. As home delivery of milk declined in the early 1960s, Grahame Wood, George’s grandson, opened the first Wawa Food Market in 1964 as an outlet for dairy products.

Today, Wawa Inc. is a chain of more than 645 convenience retail stores located in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Central Florida. Each store is an all day, every day stop for fresh, built-to-order foods, beverages, coffee, fuel services, and surcharge-free ATMs. [Source]

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Why We Like Them

Wawa does a nice job of facing one of the best “problems” a company marketing online can have: a strong brand.  For a chain with less than 700 stores nationwide, it has 1.2 million fans on Facebook and more than 30,000 followers on Twitter. [Source]

Wawa has been hailed as the number eight seller of cups of coffee in the country, behind just Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s, Burger King and 7-Eleven. 7-Eleven has more than 6,000 stores across America. Wawa has a little over 645, limited to Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. Wawa sells one of every five cups of coffee sold in its region. [Source]

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Wawa customers are fans in the truest sense of the word: actor and entertainer Johnny Knoxville is one of many people with a Wawa tattoo.  
Source: Pinterest

What Are They Doing Well?

It’s hard to narrow our selections down to a few, but here’s what we like most about Wawa:

1) Knowing Their Customer Base

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Wawa knows that the core strengths that created its brand are convenience, value and customer service. There’s no digital solution for those. However, their web presence reflects their strong “sense of self” as a brand. The design of Wawa’s web site and app is clean, easy-to-use, and shows an understanding of the user experience. For example, the strongest callouts on the Wawa web site are featuring current sales and a store locator. It’s not easy to tie a brick-and-mortar brand to a web presence, but Wawa achieves more with less.

Wawa runs a separate customer service survey site that is clean and easy to use. It’s hard to obtain customer data from face-to-face transactions, and we like how Wawa tries to make the data collection process fast and easy for the user.

2) Getting Mobile

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Wawa has a mobile app that’s clean, easy-to-use and has value for users. The latest version features a payment function and a rewards program.  It also features nutritional information and acts as a real-time store finder. While Wawa is stepping into the mobile space a bit late, it’s doing so with in a more thoughtful approach than its larger competitors. It’s lack of bells and whistles is a reflection that Wawa understands its mobile presence should support, not over shadow, its brick-and-mortar experience.

3) Cultivating the Customer Cult

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Wawa’s social media and web presence calls attention to its customer’s love for its brand without being too enthusiastic. For example, Wawa runs a Tumblr that features customer images of Wawa products in exotic (and not-so-exotic locales).  Wawa also has great promotions that get it in the news and to the top of search results, like Wawa Day, April 16, when it gives away 1.5 million cups of coffee on its birthday.

In Summary

Wawa has done a great job of using Digital to enhance its already strong brand, without trying too hard (or looking like it is trying too hard). Wawa provides a user experience that is fast, efficient and consistent – just like the customer experience in their stores.

Do you know of a local company doing great things in digital? Let us know in the comments below.