Sensory Shopping

FDM’s General Manager and super shopper, Dalene Haugh, rates her favourite stores and why she’ll always go back for more.

“It’s my favourite thing,” whispers Dalene in the confessional tone of a Shopaholics Anonymous meeting. With two decades of experience in retail, including a number of years at the Martha Stewart Organization, Dalene appreciates the multi-sensory satisfaction of a thoughtfully curated store. “I was really inspired by how Martha transformed everyday living and entertaining into a modern, practical art form by valuing order, aesthetics and styling.”


Dalene’s number one is an American lifestyle brand aimed at creative, educated and affluent women aged 30 to 45 years. “For me, shopping at Anthropologie is undeniably the most unique retail experience. It was a regular weekend highlight while living in Pasadena, California. The mood lighting, divine scented candles, dreamy music – Diamonds are Forever always comes to mind – and handcrafted artworks throughout give the space an overwhelmingly homey feel.” Everything about Anthropologie’s stores is meticulously calculated.  Anthro’ is super focused on its retail settings and the sensory components that attract legions of dedicated shoppers.

Trader Joes

Grocery shopping is fun at this laid-back US supermarket that originated in California. They create an emotionally connected experience by empowering staff to go the extra mile to make customers feel appreciated. “If you are curious about a product, the staff will let you try it. They are highly trained, friendly and knowledgeable about every product in their store,” says Dalene.

It started as an e-commerce company that sold original furniture design at affordable prices. The company has subsequently opened showrooms across the UK and expanded to Europe, offering an engaging and seamless in-store shopper experience.  Customers are encouraged to get tactile with fabrics and finishes and personal style advice is available on request. Large tablets are scattered throughout the store, allowing shoppers to search and buy products as well as browse the brand’s social media feeds.

Ralph Lauren

This iconic brand’s flagship store on 72nd and Madison in New York city is spectacular. It’s glamorous for everyone, not just the rich and famous.  “Whenever I visit New York, I make a point of visiting this store even if I can’t always afford to buy something.” Walking into the revived Neo-Renaissance mansion is like stepping into a fairy tale. “From the lavish window displays to being ushered down the long awning toward the main hall, outfitted in mahogany with intricate moldings and ceilings, and the glamorous staircase that transports you into a world that feels part British clubhouse, part country estate.”

David Jones

The beautiful 12-floor department store in Sydney brings fashion, food, home and beauty together in an immersive retail experience. The recently refurbished flagship store features a floor dedicated to luxury footwear, with 85 unique brands and a shoe concierge to greet and guide customers to the appropriate area. The store’s multinational service team offers service in 19 languages. David Jones conducted a global recruitment drive to hire 50 specialists fitters, some of whom have worked for brands including Dior and Celine. Kudos to Nicholas Criticos, Head of Store Design at David Jones Australia, who played an integral part in the reimagining and transformation of this glamorous department store.

G-Star Raw

Shopping at G-Star Raw in Amsterdam is a memorable and fun experience. Besides the modern industrial shelving, high ceilings and great music, you’re welcomed with a glass of champagne by staff who make you feel special the moment you walk into the store. “Since I almost always have to get my jeans shortened, I love that they tailor the jeans for you right away. And rather than kill time elsewhere, I was happy to sip on my champagne, browse and continue to shop.”

Street Style FOMO

Cologne is known to have the best-loved shopping streets in Germany. “When Nigel (FDM’s CEO) and I went to Euroshop, the biggest retail expo held in Dusseldorf every three years, we stayed in Cologne. Although I can’t pinpoint a particular store, we loved the street shopping scene. I am terribly disappointed that we never went to Globetrotter, winner of the European design award at Europshop 2008.


Six Essentials For Happy Shopping

  • Beautiful, brand-appropriate architecture and store design.
  • Stage merchandise by creating a magical setting for it.
  • Focus on sensory components – touch, aroma, sound, lighting, temperature.
  • Staff that truly connect with customers.
  • Digital technology as an integral part of the customer journey.
  • Good old-fashioned hospitality. Give them a smile, a glass of champagne, or a seat when they’re tired.

About the author: Dalene Haugh