In years of road trips to Delaware, I have never waited in line at the sandwich counter at Wawa. Credit their ordering kiosks, which do a few things:

  • First, the entire premise of the deli counter is a sandwich my way. I’m a “customizer.” I like that.
  • Second, I don’t feel rushed in assembling the perfect sandwich. (My wife might feel otherwise as I deliberate but it’s a moment of time that I control completely, creating just what I want. That’s downright relaxing.) I am not hurried or pressured by someone behind the counter who is also judging my choices, thinking I’m too picky, or getting tired of my indecision—any of which invites Mr. Anxiety to lunch.
  • Third, it’s fun. It turns ordering a sandwich into an act of creation instead of merely an act of commerce.

It’s also a smart and consistent upsell machine. Humans may forget to ask every customer if they want extra cheese, extra salad, bacon, cookies or apples. That’s a lot of upsell to remember, and could seem tedious if asked by the sandwich makers. What’s more, if you have to stand around the counter waiting for questions, that’s less time you have to browse the store and get hooked on other treats and “necessities.”

Here’s a look at my step-by-step experience. Read my final analysis after the walk through:

Are there too many steps in this experience? Maybe, but I was having too much fun to care—and with such simple questions, it moved pretty fast. In fact, the more you complicate the screen with options that take longer to read or mentally organize, the harder it becomes to figure out what you’re deciding on, and to make the decisions.

That said, I would consider testing two changes. The first would be collapsing the Toast screens:

“Would you like the sandwich toasted?”

  • “No”
  • “Yes—the bread only”
  • “Yes—the whole sandwich”

The second change would be collapsing the Extra Salad/Extra Cheese page and the Bacon page. If I did, I’d make sure the Bacon really stood out. i would definitely add an image of the bacon next to the option to bring attention to it.

None of the upselling felt cheap or superfluous, so I wouldn’t take them away—why wouldn’t I expect to have bacon offered to me? Or a healthy apple to accompany my sandwich?

Getting the order…
My number was called when the sandwich was ready. I remembered it from the last screen so I picked up the sandwich and went to the cashier, who asked for my ticket. There was a ticket taped to the sandwich, but apparently the one I needed was hanging out of a machine on the lower left side of the ordering kiosk, now half way across the store. It was the only flaw I encountered in the Wawa sandwich ordering experience. I never saw the receipt machine, and it didn’t occur to me to look for it after ordering. I was too excited to explore the store while my sandwich was being made, looking for a little bite of chocolate and dreaming about even mediocre doughnuts—all a by-product of my time not spent waiting in line.

Back in the car, the tuna sandwich I had ordered was awful. It may as well have been a Mayo Sandwich with tuna spread as an add-on. That’s too bad, because I really like ordering at Wawa. I’ll be back to try a different sandwich sometime. And when I do, I’ll probably fill up the car with gas too—another drip of incremental revenue for the store that, at least for me, springs out of a simple, delightful sandwich kiosk.