Wawa: The Next Gen Sandwich Ordering System?

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Wawa. It is the one of the places that brings me so much joy when I go back home to the Philly-area. For those who don’t know, Wawa is like a bodega on steroids, packed with snack and foods and a full-service deli, where you order all your items on a machine like this:
Over the weekend, I went to one of my best friend’s weddings and made a veteran decision to stop at a Wawa on the drive back into the city. With fresh eyes, I watched 15-20 people use this amazing little kiosk during my visit there and recorded my observations:
1) Customers want a faster, more accurate way of ordering food
2) Less labor intensive (less staff required)
3) ‘Quick serve’ food is prepared in front of you, giving customer transparency in their order
4) People don’t want to wait in a long line to give an order, they would prefer to wait in a shorter queue, place their order and then wait for their food
Customers who come to Wawa are looking for a delicious meal that they can get between 5-10 minutes. Popular around lunch, but open 24/7, Wawa’s flexibility to provide quality food at all times of the day cater to a wide range of customers.
There are certain aspect of this system that I want to call out. After placing their order, a small ticket is printed, which the customer then takes to the cashier to pay for. Once paid for, the ticket it then validated with a ‘PAID’ stamp. I believe this helps ‘take up time’ that would be otherwise be spent waiting for their food.
There are inherent simplifications and difficulties this brings to the experience at Wawa.
What’s Easy
1) Step up and order a sandwich within 30 seconds (if you know what you’re doing)
2) Margin for error is extremely low. If there is a mess-up, you have a record of everything you ordered on your sandwich as validation.
What’s Difficult
1) First time Wawa customers have to either observe other customers use the kiosks or ask their friends/family on how to order. Eventually they understand the flow.
2) Some options appear to be repetitive “Cold Hoagies” “Hot Hoagies” “Double Meat Cold Hoagies”, etc.., which led to the user having to press cancel and start again
3) The paper print out receipt actually ran out and a customer was left without an order number, leading to confusion and a breakdown of a solid, organized system.
Not only is this a waste of paper, but inefficient. Why shouldn’t the customer be allowed to pay for their food from the order screen without having to print paper and go to another line to pay for their goods?
Quickest observed transaction time (just ordering a sandwich): 0:20 seconds
Quickest observed transaction time (ordering and paying): 4:02 minutes
Slowest observed transaction time (just ordering a sandwich): 3:12 seconds
Slowest observed transaction time (ordering and paying): 6:32 seconds
As someone who has grown up with Wawa, this is the easiest system to order a sandwich with. With a big sign that says, “ORDER HERE” and ‘TOUCH THE SCREEN TO ORDER’ are straightforward indicators to new customers on what to do. From my perspective, and what I’v observed, there is quite a bit of affordance built into the copy and layout of the screens, guiding the user to eventually press, “Complete and print order”.
This system does not align well with Crawford’s definition of interactive, where the user inputs their selections, and the system basically compiles it all together, allows the user to review their selection and then prints out the result. In the backend, the system is sending that order to the sandwich maker, giving them the instructions to build the sandwich that was ordered. The only processing the computer is doing is making sure the queue numbers are sequential. That’s pretty much it, which is why, although the user can interact with the kiosk, it doesn’t fit too well in my opinion to a process-heavy interactive experience.

Playing with Analog and Digital Ins and Outs

This week we had to apply digital and analog inputs/outputs to our circuits. Here is what I used:
– Arduino 101
– 1 light resistor
– 1 10 Kohm resistor
After connecting the circuits, and adding a bit of code, I was able to print out the range of light the photo resistor was picking up. I then mapped that to a particular range from 0-3, whose variables I assigned globally. I then mapped that range to either print ‘Dark’ if it read, “0” or “1”. It would print ‘Light’ if read ‘”2″ or “3”.
I have it set to delay a reading every 60 seconds.
My original goal was for it to send a notification to the rnF app via Bluetooth if it was ‘Light’ and to not send it if it was ‘Dark’, but as I could not figure out to configure the Bluetooth in time for class. I wanted to create a simple system that would notify you if you left the lights on in a room. I will figure it out and revisit this.

Light Sensor Readings from Jesal Trivedi on Vimeo.