Convenience Store News cites CBX’s foodie-friendly design for Wawa’s new Florida stores, along with chain’s social media strategy, mobile app and strong focus on customers.
Thanks in part to a new store prototype created by New York-based brand agency and retail design firm CBX, Wawa was named Convenience Store News magazine’s “Innovator of the Year.”
“Always one of the leading innovators in the c-store industry, Wawa in the past year seems to be taking convenience retailing to a new level,” the magazine wrote in its October cover story. “With its successful entry into Florida, innovative use of social media, a mobile app initiative and continued focus on the consumer, Wawa has been selected by the editors of CSNews as the 2013 Retailer Innovator of the Year.”
In describing the Pennsylvania-based chain’s rapid rollout in the Florida market, the magazine noted: “To make this great first impression, Wawa needed to do more than just transplant its Mid-Atlantic store model to the South…To introduce itself to customers in central Florida, Wawa worked with store design firm CBX to unveil the retailer’s first major new store concept since the late 1990s. The new design uses ‘fresh’ decorating cues such as natural materials, floor to ceiling glass windows, warm colors, an outdoor seating area and a redesigned, highly visible kitchen/sandwich-making area.”
The article goes on to quote Wawa President and CEO Chris Gheysens on the integral role the design played in capturing the imagination of Sunshine State shoppers. (This work also previously earned CBX an Honorable Mention in the magazine’s 2013 Retail Design Awards.) “We felt we needed a fresh design, driven by the psychology of the Florida customer,” explained Gheysens. “The new store design has really informed the majority of people who didn’t previously know Wawa and what the brand stands for: fresh, great-quality food and beverages, and convenience…When you walk into the store, you see people making food, as well as digital signs romancing the offer. There’s no mistaking that we are in the fresh food and fresh beverage business.”
Veteran c-store designer Joseph Bona, President of Branded Environments at CBX, added: “With its signature coffee bar, open kitchen, fresh-baked goods and other distinguishing characteristics, Wawa needed to makes sure Floridians understood this new entry was a cut above other convenience stores. People tend to think of any building with gas pumps as a run-of-the-mill convenience store, but we were intent on making sure Wawa’s brand did not fall victim to this ‘gas penalty.’ We’re delighted that customers and peers are giving Wawa’s design rave reviews.”
With more than 600 stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, Wawa has rolled out 25 stores in Florida since entering the state in July 2012. Demand at many of these locations was so great that staff had to be beefed up and kitchen and stockroom areas expanded, the magazine notes.
As noted, among other things, Convenience Store News also lauded the chain for its innovative use of social media, a mobile app initiative and continued focus on the consumer. Those endeavors have helped Wawa’s Facebook page accumulate more than 1 million “likes.”