More News:

August 02, 2023

Wawa redesigns University City location, removing all the store's shelves

The new format is an experiment by the retailer where customers place orders for all items using the Wawa app or in-store kiosk screens

Business Wawa
Wawa University City John Kopp/PhillyVoice

Wawa has redesigned its location at 3300 Market St. in University City, pictured above. The store now has no shelves stocked items for customers to purchase. Instead, they must place all orders using digital screens of the Wawa app.

As the world evolves, so does the Wawa customer experience. The convenience store chain is prototyping a screen-centric retail environment at one of its University City locations.

The Wawa at 3300 Market St. recently reopened after er a week-long redesign that eschews the traditional shelves of a convenience store. Rather than perusing and selecting products on display, now customers at the 3300 Market St. Wawa do their shopping virtually using either Wawa’s mobile app or in-store kiosks, and then orders are fulfilled by associates working at the store.

The new format is designed to be a faster and more efficient, but it will not result in the elimination of any jobs at the store, Wawa told the Philadelphia Business Journal.

This Wawa store prototype arrives at a time when the company is experiencing both growth and challenges. On one hand, the convenience store chain, headquartered in Middletown, Delaware County, is expanding into new states and plans to push further into central Pennsylvania with the goal of doubling its nationwide store count by 2030. 

At the same time, Wawa has struggled to keep its downtown Philadelphia stores open and operating at normal capacity. Last year, Wawa closed multiple Center City stores and scaled back hours at others, citing problems with shoplifting and violent incidents. There have been problems at stores elsewhere in the city, too, such as the unflattering viral video showing juveniles ransacking a Wawa in Mayfair last September.

Wawa Digital StoreJohn Kopp/PhillyVoice

At the redesigned Wawa at 3300 Market St., customers place all orders using digital screens and then pick them up at the counter. There are no longer any shelves containing items to purchase.

The COVID-19 pandemic took its own toll on Wawa’s downtown presence. In 2020, the company shuttered its flagship store at Broad and Walnut less than five years after it opened, in large part due to diminished foot traffic in Center City after the onset of the pandemic. When that location opened in 2015 it was supposed to usher in Wawa's return to Center City. 

Despite these challenges, Wawa has been busy expanding its footprint and experimenting with various aspects of its business. With its roots firmly planted in and around its home base of Pennsylvania, the company is planning to open new stores in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky by 2025. Wawa also continues to experiment with its customer experience, by adding more drive-through locations, for example, and by tinkering with its food offerings: The company recently added pizza to its menus at select locations for the third time in the its history.

With over 1,000 stores and 40,000 employees, Wawa is the largest private company in Pennsylvania and currently ranks 24th among Forbes' list of the largest private companies in the country