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A passion for wine

By Jenny Schrank
August 10, 2012

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Photo Courtesy of Grant Swain
When it comes to selection, 8,000 wines, 2,500 beers and 1,000
spirits are enough to make anyone say “wow.” But it is the organization, presentation and overall experience of the Total Wine & More stores that create the true essence of this retailer’s wow factor.

Potomac, Md.-based Total Wine & More has maintained a foothold in the beer, wine and 
spirits industry for the last 20 years. Since 2005, the company has been implementing a proto-typical store design as it expands along the East Coast and across the country. Over the last year, Total Wine has made a concerted effort to infuse more passion into this prototype as it aims to elevate the customer experience.

This soulful experience is evident at the new 30,000-sq.-ft. store in Dallas. With the help of Baltimore, Ohio-based Rumora Studios, Total Wine transformed a former OfficeMax building to reflect the essence of its brand and core values—incredible selection, great service, lowest price and passion.

“Our store design had good bones—a nice fixture layout and flow,” describes Ken Chance, director of store design and construction for Total Wine & More. “But, we were lacking a sense of passion. We needed to create a holistic experience with visuals and graphics in order to give our 
customers a complete experience.”

The goal for the new design was to better portray the depth of the Total Wine story, explains Matt Rumora, who is responsible for branding and visual communications for Rumora Studios. “The concept focuses on Total Wine’s relationship with their producers and imparts the passionate, soulful story regarding the organization’s products and service offering as America’s premier wine superstore,” he says.

One of the brand’s competitive advantages is that it seeks out smaller, lesser-known wineries around the world that customers wouldn’t be able to find in grocery or other stores, Chance notes. This passion and competitive advantage was translated into the overall floorplan, as well as a new visual communications package for the prototype. “The new design creates focused and manageable zones by service and product category, while delivering messages consistent with the company’s key brand attributes,” Rumora describes.

Communication with the customer begins from the start, and this visual communication is carried throughout the entire plan. Floor-
coverings and ceiling elements create a sense of arrival. At the entry point, patrons are greeted by the First Impressions Zone, which includes Customer Service and New Products. This sets off the store’s Power Aisle with a variety of value offerings. The Power Aisle leads customers directly to the Wine Demonstration Zone, and then on to the “The Total Experience Education Center.”

Other highlighted areas within the store include the Old World Wine Zone, “The Cooler” or Keg Zone, The Fine Wine “Bordeaux Box” and the Cigar Humidor. Gifts & Accessories are centrally located to provide cross-selling opportunities and to allow the staff to take advantage of seasonal marketing platforms.

“The design utilizes distinct, large-scale, wall-mounted signage where possible and large, overhead ‘ring’ signs to call out zones located on the open floor,” Rumora says. “Super-graphic, themed photography ‘lifestyle’ wall friezes help to orient customers toward specific merchandise categories.”

Adding visual stimulation throughout the store, 25 to 35 color-coded endcaps address wine regions, as well as beer and spirit selections, to draw in the customer. “They are a little bit bigger, bolder and more interesting for the customers, while providing more direction and identifying unique product offerings,” Chance says.

While the new design doesn’t bring a completely new palette, it builds on the successful
elements of the existing palette and bonds with the environmental graphics to create a more cohesive visual statement, Rumora adds. “Through the use of warm, deep tones, the color palette, materials and finishes selection supports the brand sentiment and creates a relevant, neutral backdrop that allows the graphics and merchandise to take center stage,” he says.

According to interior designer Karen Rumora of Rumora Studios, the Total Experience Education Center is one of the most noteworthy focal points of the space. The education center now serves a greater purpose for the store and provides a means for connecting with the community. Total Wine offers regularly scheduled wine, beer and spirit classes, and the classroom is available at no charge for a variety of organizational events and meetings, as well as customer gatherings. “The new space at the Dallas location is much larger than the current Total Wine model,” she says. “The vaulted ceiling adds depth and drama, and evokes the feeling of a traditional wine cellar. The introduction of woodgrain, brick and a rich color and materials palette gives the space the look and feel of a traditional winery.”

The rich wood tones and updated color palette make the interior of the space warm and comfortable, while encouraging patrons to spend more time browsing. The level of customer service provided at Total Wine adds to this successful equation, with highly trained staff that can direct customers based on a variety of selection criteria, such as type and price. However, educational elements also are in place for those who just want to spend time wandering the store and discovering new products.

Technology adds to the educational element of the store and demonstrates the passion Total Wine has for the customer experience. Digital video signage and iPad stations with the Total Wine food pairing app allow customers to look for the right pairing for a meal, or even find the perfect recipe to suit their wine selection.

Total Wine’s vast product offering could be overwhelming, but the new store design provides a platform for further exploration. “This is an adult candy store,” Chance describes. “No matter your level of knowledge, you can feel comfortable on your own or interacting with our staff. You can spend hours walking through, reviewing, reading explanations, etc.”