The new shelfless format allows customers to order via touchscreen or app while associates retrieve items from behind the counter.
PHILADELPHIA — Wawa Inc. has opened an all-digital store in the University City neighborhood of Philadelphia.
The test format features no shelves, just touchscreens for customers to place their orders, which are then retrieved by Wawa associates from behind the counter. Customers may also place orders at the store via the Wawa app.
The layout was retrofitted to an existing location at 3300 Market Street, which shut down for six days in order to complete the renovations.
"This will allow busy customers to place their orders and get their purchases faster than ever — fulfilled by friendly Wawa associates," said Wawa spokesperson Lori Bruce.
The new format is currently in its testing phase, allowing the company to gather information and feedback from both guests and associates on how the experience works.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the company has experienced some ups and downs over the last few years in the Philly region. While its stores in University City have continued with steady business — including the digitally retrofitted store — six branded stores in Center City have all been closed, with the exception of one that will likely be converted into a technology training center for Wawa employees.
In the wake of some of this upheaval, Wawa has tested out various new options to further the customer experience. Before the pandemic lockdown, the company experimented with a tiny store format, including a walk-up window. It opened up its first drive-thru store in Morrisville, Pa., two years ago and recently launched the concept in Florida. The c-store chain has also expanded its partnership with EVgo, with plans to extend its electric vehicle charging network to new locations.
Pennsylvania-based Wawa operates 1,000 c-stores throughout the Northeast and Florida. The company has also broken ground on locations in North Carolina and Alabama — Wawa's first forays into those states. The retailer currently has plans to double its footprint within the next decade.