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Image: Gebr. Heinemann

Amsterdam: Schiphol Airport Retail unveils renovated Exquisite Shop

Schiphol Airport Retail, a joint venture between Gebr. Heinemann and the Royal Schiphol Group, officially revealed the new look of its Exquisite Shop in Amsterdam’s International Airport after major renovations.

The ambitious design upgrade for the 136 sq m retail area is intended to boost the Exquisite Shop as a unique destination for the finest wine, spirits and cigars and thus taking the connoisseur’s travel and shopping experience at Schiphol Airport to the next level.

Improved visibility and accessibility

The new shop preserves a sense of the original classic design, but instead of an all-black wood interior and heavy leather armchairs, it now presents a more modern interpretation of the classic aesthetic. A palette of neutral and earthen tones creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere, while copper and brass design elements build a contrast and set eye-catching accents. With new furniture, to new signage and lighting and a revamped, more open configuration of the façade, the Exquisite Shop now boasts a much lighter urban design, particularly appealing to the younger target group.

Modern design to attract growing number of younger buyers and collectors

“Especially the wine and spirits category is attracting more and more young customers, who are willing to invest in high-quality products. Many of them are simply lovers of fine drinks and look for the unparalleled taste of a rare cognac, a fine champagne or a vintage whisky. But particularly at the high end, a growing number of young collectors is entering the market, chasing rarities and the latest limited editions that they can’t find anywhere else,” says Simon Asmus, Managing Director at Schiphol Airport Retail. The shop therefore not only presents a completely new look and feel to passengers, but also now brings a significantly refined product portfolio with even more hard to find specialities from well-known brands as well as lesser-known surprises. As a whole, the Exquisite Shop offers travellers the best of the rare and the unusual, which corresponds to their desire for exclusivity and uniqueness.

The redesign was accompanied by a renaming of the shop: the original name “Exquisite” is now supplemented by “Finest Wine, Spirits & Cigars”. This makes clear to travellers at first glance what an extraordinary product range they will find, even before entering the shop.

Aroma table elevates tasting experience to a new level

Besides its completely fresh design concept, the new Exquisite Shop offers a special attraction: the aroma table. It is made of marble and brass and features five trumpet-like devices that, with the squeeze of a rubber bulb, release the delicious aroma of a core taste of the wine or spirit it promotes. Decorated glass jars stage the respective aroma and guide customers through the different flavours as they move around the table, encouraging them to fully immerse their senses into the highlighted products before actually tasting them.

“The aroma table aims at changing customers’ perception of a product by highlighting their unique flavours rather than arranging them by specific category or brand. It allows us to engage in a completely different way with our customers and let them discover their preferences in a new, much more emotional way”, Simon Asmus explains. The highlighted products on the aroma table are exchanged every three months, giving a great deal of flexibility and enabling swift curation of new enhanced shopping experiences.

Blueprint for other Heinemann sites

“The aroma table sets a new benchmark in travel retail when it comes to enticing the shopper in new and exciting ways. It also builds a perfect bridge from marketing to tasting – and tasting builds the bridge to buying. But even those travellers who don’t turn into buyers will still memorise the experience at the Exquisite Shop and be left with a new, more sensual impression of the promoted brands,” explains Rüdiger Stelkens, Purchasing Director Liquor Tobacco Confectionery and Fine Food at Gebr. Heinemann.

Another new show stopper at the Exquisite Shop is the flying bottle furniture. This illuminated cabinet displays a liquor bottle levitating in space, with no fixtures or support. The secret technology leaves travellers puzzled and marvelling at the installation and thereby triggering further curiosity and attention. The result is a deep and lasting positive impression of the object displayed. “With the aroma table and the flying bottle we are offering our suppliers a multitude of opportunities here to hone their own company profile and thus generate growth for themselves. Both concepts are very promising and we are therefore considering expanding these prototypes to other Heinemann retail sites as well,” says Rüdiger Stelkens.

Sensory journey as competitive advantage

As is often the case at an airport, customers are looking forward to a wonderful journey – but this time in a somewhat different way: this is a journey through interactive elements that create an augmented emotional experience, stimulating the senses of touch, sight, taste, smell and sound (from now on, visitors will also hear pleasant background jazz music playing in the shop).

“This leveraged customer experience provides an undeniable competitive advantage, for example versus online trade. Customers are more educated about the categories than ever before. They are looking for extraordinary products, but also for the exceptional inspiration and emotion behind that product. And they want to share that special story with their friends or when presenting the product as a gift to someone,” says Simon Asmus. And the approach is proving a success with passengers from all over the world. Chinese travellers make up the largest share of customers at the Exquisite Shop, followed by passengers from the UK and the US as well as a growing number of travellers from India.

All signs pointing to further growth

Around 70 million passengers use Amsterdam Airport Schiphol each year, making the international hub from and to the Netherlands a key market for Gebr. Heinemann. “The Exquisite Shop is an ideal fit with the passenger profile at the airport. I am very proud that we are able to offer this unique shop concept and such pioneering ideas like the aroma table here. Now that we have successfully completed the conversion, all signs are pointing to increasing growth,” Simon Asmus concludes.