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Industry Innovation

Wawa Drive-Thru Facilities

Exploring Wawa’s Plans for Drive Thru Layouts

cars being serviced at a drive-thru

awa Inc. has over 900 stores that are spread across various locations inside the United States.  Even before the pandemic, Wawa had plans to open up a c-store drive-thru to facilitate its customers.  However, Wawa’s drive-thru layouts didn't materialize until COVID-19 pushed them in the right direction.

Wawa has a reputation for providing its customers with the best premium-quality products that are available on the market.  In a Wawa drive-thru, you’ll find a customer c-store drive-thru experience with two lanes, digital menus, QR scan menus, and separate points of paying and collection.  

Wawa Inc. has a history of experimenting with different store innovations.  Its most recent initiative: drive-thru-only establishments.  The convenience store chain celebrated the launch of its first drive-thru in New Jersey in December 2020 and its first freestanding drive-thru in Pennsylvania in January 2021.

Wawa is currently testing a contemporary c-store drive-thru layout that allows contactless shopping in its drive-thru layouts.  Contactless shopping has been gaining popularity ever since the pandemic hit us, and c-store drive-thru(s) is a great way to achieve that!

Early C-store Drive-Thru Concept

C-store drive-thrus have been around for a while now, and customers adore this facility as it's quick and caters to all their product needs at the same time.  

Farm Stores, located in Florida, established its first store in Miami in 1957.  It was a teeny-tiny 350-square-foot drive-thru that served milk, butter, bread, eggs, and ice cream.  Customers would place their orders through the window, and an employee would bring the products to their automobile.  Farm Stores drive-thru outlets presently number over 70 in Florida, with plans to expand to New York, New Jersey, Texas, and Pennsylvania.

Other c-stores like Pik Quik have also used drive-thru(s) to benefit their customers.

Recent Drive-Thru Openings at Wawa

In December 2020, Wawa tested and inaugurated an 1850 sq. ft. test store in Westampton, N. J.  In this Wawa drive-thru, you will find drive-thru windows where you can place an order; at another window, you'll find a Wawa team member that processes the payments and readies your goods for collection.

convenience store drive-thru

However, this c-store drive-thru in Westampton was one of the TWO Wawa drive-thru(s) planned this year.  Wawa drive-thru(s) have a progressive drive-thru layout that works toward processing the customer’s order within the minimum time possible.  If the drive-thru lines get congested, the customers are directed towards the curbside.  This is where their items are brought to them.

Later, on January 8, Wawa launched its first standalone c-store drive-thru in Morrisville, Pa.  This store differs from other c-store drive-thru due to the fact that it emphasizes providing extra convenience to its customers while selling fresh foods.  This standalone drive-thru is distinguished by its unique drive-thru layout.  It features Wawa’s trademarked canopy and can serve 12 vehicles simultaneously from 6 AM to 10 PM every day.

New bundled deals include a morning Sizzli and coffee for $4. 29; a lunch combo of a hot or cold Shorti hoagie, choice of side, and a large soft drink for $7. 99; and a build-your-own dinner combo of pasta with protein and veggies or substantial bowls for $6. 99 to $8. 99.  Wawa's newest burger and fries combo are only available for a limited time at this Wawa drive-thru.  Specialty drinks, iced coffee, salads, and Kids Meals are also available, and a limited variety of packaged goods, including doughnuts, pretzels, and Wawa iced tea.

"Wawa continues to test new store concepts with the latest drive-thru layouts, providing an opportunity for our customers to experience and enjoy their favorite Wawa products while remaining inside their car.  Wawa is committed to increasing convenience and provide new options for service while keeping safety and comfort top of mind.  Wawa hopes to learn from the layout, workflow and traffic flow at this location, as it continues to explore alternatives for longer term application to stores post-COVID-19."  Exclaimed Terri Micklin, the Director of Construction at Wawa.

Earlier in 2020, Wawa launched its curbside pickup at various Wawa stores and expanded its network of product delivery to meet the increasing demand of its customers.

What’s Making C-Store Drive-Thrus Popular?

Even before the pandemic, the c-store drive-thru(s) were already very common among customers due to their quick and hassle-free services.  However, COVID-19 gave the concept a final push, as drive-thru(s) also happen to provide contact-less pickup.  

Concerned by the virus, and in order to avoid getting infected; logic dictated the way forward was adherence to procedures and avoiding human contact as much as possible. For more information on consumer behaviors, checkout “Covid-19 Breeds Convenience Store Behaviors.”

As a result, people went more and more for c-store drive-thru(s) as they proved as an effective way to avoid contact.  Hence, the boost in popularity for c-store drive-thru(s)

Future Plans for Wawa Drive-Thru layouts

In the future, Wawa is expected to expand its operations and introduce Wawa drive-thru(s) in other locations as well if it is successful.  

"We are hoping to learn from the layout, workflow and traffic flow at this location, as we continue to explore alternatives for longer term application to our stores post-COVID-19.  We appreciate the opportunity to partner with Falls Township officials, who are providing us with the approvals and support of this newly designed store format that will be of benefit to the community.”  Explained Terri Micklin.  

During the pandemic, drive-thrus have grown increasingly popular among restaurant chains, with businesses ranging from McDonald's to Raising Cane's reporting good sales via the window, and others like Chipotle and Shake Shack deciding to create their own versions.  Of course, given the converging circumstance of C-Stores and QSRs, the Wawa drive-thru might exacerbate the existing rivalry between them.

October 4, 2021