Wawa Lets There Be (Less Expensive) Light

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Wawa Lets There Be (Less Expensive) Light


WAWA, Pa. -- The cold vaults in Wawa Inc.'s convenience stores are looking brighter and clearer following a project with GE Lighting Solutions. The chain implemented its Immersion RV30 LED lighting series in every in-store cold vault.

The system, which uses light-emitting diode (LED)technology, is intended to cut annual operating expenses, while also providing a more attractive display of refrigerated merchandise.

"Wawa was looking to reduce energy costs through various ways at our locations," said Scott Boorse, Wawa's energy and petroleum operations manager, who spoke exclusively to CSNews Online. "One of the tools we identified was to utilize LED lighting in our cooler boxes. We had done some tests and discovered that LED lighting would reduce our cooler box lighting costs by about 70 percent. And since LED lights last a long time, we felt our maintenance costs would also decrease."

For the consumer, Boorse noted that LED lighting is more attractive than its traditional counterpart and "provides an overall better lighting environment for the customer."

Although Wawa liked the idea of installing LED lighting in its cold vaults, the decision did not come quickly. The c-store retailer had to decide which LED product would be best for its stores.

"We decided to use the GE Immersion product after testing three or four manufacturer products," said Boorse. "We liked that the GE product could be installed in retrofit applications. We could do it one evening in each store and it only took about six to seven hours. Also, the price point was right for us."

Once Wawa selected the GE Lighting product, it took about three years to complete the process. The chain first rolled out the Immersion RV30 lighting as a 10-store test in 2009. Satisfied with the results, Wawa converted the cooler doors at another 100 locations in 2010 and completed the conversion at all company-operated stores by the end of last year.

Saving money on operating costs is a huge boon to any convenience store operator. However, the customer also needs to like what he or she sees to make the new lighting system successful. Boorse said Wawa's customers definitely like what they're seeing, and he noted that feedback about the Immersion RV30 took place even before shoppers got their first glance at it.

"Store associates immediately noticed a difference the day following the installation," the energy and petroleum operations manager recalled. "I can only remember positive comments about [the new LED system]. I don't think we had any negative comments from store associates or any customer issues."

More specifically, Boorse relayed that during intercepts, Wawa customers commented that the Immersion RV30 LED system made colors "truer, brighter and made things pop."

"For example, the blue color of Gatorade really pops," he said. "And the silver color of cans of Coke, Pepsi or another brand really sparkle when the light hits them. Also, consumers said everything [on the beverage] was clear and easy to see and read."

For c-store retailers who want to see it in person, the Immersion LED lighting systems will be on display at GE Lighting's NACS Show booth in Las Vegas in October.