Wawa brings digital integration to the convenience store

Under CIO John Collier, Wawa is partnering with multiple vendors to build out its digital capabilities, suggesting that a DIY approach isn't the only game in town.

Wawa brings digital integration to the convenience store
Thinkstock

The smartphone's role in people’s daily lives leaves CIOs no shortage of options with which to get closer to customers. And while many retail chains are throwing one novel technology after another against the wall to see what sticks, convenience store chain Wawa has come up with a different formula: partnerships with companies whose digital capabilities boost the convenience quotient for consumers.

For most companies, rolling your own technology doesn't make financial sense, as few enjoy bottomless tech budgets. That's a big reason why Wawa is leveraging "digital integration" by partnering with companies that provide food delivery and other services that consumers can order with a few taps on their smartphones.

"We believe we have a one-of-a-kind of opportunity to enhance our relationship with people and back it up with technology to make interactions more seamless and robust," says John Collier, Wawa's CIO. This is no small task. Wawa serves more than 600 million customers annually from more than 800 stores throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Florida.

Wawa's strategy, which it dubs "boundless convenience," reflects a shift in digital service delivery. Many companies try to build digital services because they believe it is important to own the whole experience. But in many instances it may make more sense to partner with companies whose core competency aligns with your digital goals. Fundamentally, it's no different than partnering with SAP for ERP software or Amazon.com for cloud services.

To continue reading this article register now

Get the best of CIO ... delivered. Sign up for our FREE email newsletters!