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C-store chain Wawa goes digital

Digital signage helped pave the road to Florida for c-store chain Wawa, and now it's rolling out to stores chainwide — apparently with a presidential candidate's seal of approval.

Convenience store chain Wawa Inc. is in the process of deploying digital signage to all of the more than 600 stores it has across the U.S. The move comes after a wildly successful 25-store test run, and on the heels of the chain's move into the Central Florida market with a redesigned store concept featuring digital signage.

Wawa spokeswoman Lauren Sharp said the initial digital signage pilot last fall went so well that they decided to roll out across the chain, in an audio clip posted by the chain's digital signage partner, ADFLOW Networks.

"We were really excited about the opportunity to present more messages to our consumers at a frequent rate," she said in the clip. "So digital signage allows us to switch out the messages on a daily basis, even daypart messaging, so that we were able to target a.m. daypart, p.m. daypart in ways we were never able to through static signage."


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Wawa also has been able to cut expenses on the cost of printing and shipping static signage to stores, she said, which has helped the company offset the cost of producing dynamic content for the digital signage screens.

The deployment will see two screens deployed to each store, one in the foodservice area and another in the coffee/beverage section, Sharp said.Wawa food counter with digital sign

"Our new digital signage showcases our offer in a much more upscale, appealing way and moves us closer to our vision of 'fast casual to go,'" said Howard Stoeckel, CEO of Wawa, in an announcement from ADFLOW.

ADFLOW VP of Sales Steve Kartonchik said that his firm had been "fortunate in this project to work with some great people at a leading operator. It has been a rewarding experience helping the Wawa Marketing, IT and Operations team implement their digital signage strategy across their stores."

And digital signage is playing an even more prominent part in WaWa's new locations in the Sunshine State. The first of the chain's new stores in the Florida market opened July 18 across the street from Sea World, and four more were scheduled to open in the Orlando area within the next five weeks. New York City-based CBX, a creative agency specializing in retail design and operations, designed the new store prototype for the move into Florida, and featured digital signage prominently in the design.

Inside the store, customers will immediately see a red-tiled wall placed front and center, highlighting the center island kitchen, where fresh hoagie rolls will be baked daily. The food preparation area also incorporates a full-service specialty beverage section, where customers can order 20-plus varieties of hot drinks, as well as more than 20 varieties of Smoothies and frozen beverages. Guests can order any specialty drink or sandwich exactly the way they want using Wawa's touchscreen system, with a series of screens prominently positioned at the kitchen/specialty beverage area's counters.

Wawa's new touchscreen digital signage self-ordering technology even made national news earlier this year, when Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney mentioned at a campaign stop in Pennsylvania that he'd visited a Wawa store and expressed his appreciation of its self-order tech.

"I went to a place called Wawa's today, you ever been there? ... You press a little touchtone keypad, you touch this, touch this, go pay the cashier, there's your sandwich. It's amazing," Romney said, according to The Los Angeles Times. "It's amazing — people in the private sector learn how to compete. It's time to bring some competition to the federal government and to get it smaller and get it to respond to the customers — which are you."

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