GDR’s Harriet Cox visited Harrods’ newly refurbished fine wine and spirits room to find out how the London department store has enhanced the shopping experience using storytelling, sensory elements, self-discovery and responsive digital touchpoints.
Luxury London department store Harrods has refurbished its fine wine and spirits rooms creating a new customer journey that focuses on discovery and education. Designed by Martin Brudnizki Design Studio, the space includes interactive features such as ‘aroma tables’ throughout, with scent used to guide customers through the flavour profiles of different ingredients.
At the heart of the new department is the Fine Wines room, where products are categorised by terroirs, allowing customers to discover wine by region. However, both the Champagne and sparkling wines room, and the spirits room are arranged by flavour profile.
As customers move through the space – which is inspired by the decadence of the 1920s with marble patterned floor and limed-oak timber wall paneling – they are invited to interact with ingredients displayed in glass bell jars on the ‘aroma tables’. In lieu of actually sampling the products, visitors can use atomisers to experience the scent of items, which are all associated with particular flavours of wine.
“The new rooms will break down barriers and change perceptions of the world of wines and spirits by focusing more on the flavour profile of the product, rather than the specific categories and brands,” said Alex Dower, director of food and restaurants at Harrods.
Digital also plays a strong role throughout the space. Interactive screens that display product information are activated by visitors picking up the complementary bottles. Showing that Harrods knows its international customer-base, visitors can select the language they speak before the information appears on screen, which is a nice touch.
There is also an ‘education’ room, offering live streaming to vineyards and winemakers in the best regions and chateaus in the world, giving customers an insight into where the wine is produced. Additional services include bottle personalisation, with an in-house engraving machine, personal consultations and bespoke cellar plans for those looking to build their collections.
In the Spirits Room, customers are encouraged to explore the world of fine spirits categorised by flavour profile. Brands are all mixed together and navigated using signage with phrases such as “Whisky, Fresh fruit” and “Whisky, Cereal Malt”.
In the whisky room, Harrods has dedicated concessions for five leading international brands: Suntory, Glenfiddich, Dalmore, Macallan and Glenmorangie. Here they display their products in individually styled spaces, where dedicated brand masters are on hand to offer service. Each brand has created its own sensory storytelling experience to highlight its brand story or to convey something about how each whisky is made.
We have seen scent being used at point of sale before and although it can run the risk of not working properly, looking cheap and, at worst, be off putting, the new space from Harrods has been really well designed being both educational and fun, while maintaining a premium feel that reflects the products on display. Each product is given enough space so that the experience doesn’t feel cramped, encouraging customers to dwell and explore. The spaces dedicated to particular brands are more private, allowing customers to become fully immersed in the brand’s narrative if they choose to learn more.
Friendly and knowledgeable staff are also on hand to answer any questions striking a good balance between a self-directed customer journey and great personalised customer service.