The world of airport retail is booming. Alongside increasing brick-and-mortar stores, airports are improving services through personalization and technology. From Heathrow’s personal shopper service to JFK’s leveraging VR and AR to help passengers find retail shops at the airport, airport hubs are ensuring that passengers make the most of their limited time before boarding.
GlobalData asked four retail experts to pinpoint the coming trends for 2020.
Shane Finlay, chief value adviser for retail at SAP UK, said: “Airport retail will become the way customers shop in the future. One of the reasons is that it’s tax-free. A number of airport retailers are increasingly looking to customer experience surveys to get a better understanding of travellers’ spending habits.
“While consumers are moving through travel hubs, time is of the essence and there is a fuller range of emotions. Delivering good experiences will depend on connecting customer experience data with operational data.”
Kian Gould, chief executive officer and founder of AOE, said: “There will be four major retail trends in airports in the near future. The first regards the approach to technology as well as the business model, where we can observe an ongoing transition to omnichannel. Passengers expect to have access to e-commerce platforms and websites anytime, anywhere regardless of the device they use.
“Secondly, there is a definite trend toward luxury items in travel retail. The reason is that passenger buying behavior has changed dramatically. Passengers research, check availability and compare prices online and then purchase the products at the airport.
“The third trend regards the entire travel retail ecosystem. Airports provide the physical space and infrastructure; brands and retailers the retail environment; and airlines provide the necessary customer data to communicate with and sell to passengers in a targeted manner. We call this ecosystem the New Quaternity of Travel Retail.
“Finally, passengers e-commerce buying behavior is trending more toward third-party platforms such as WeChat, Jessica’s Secret and Alibaba’s pre-travel duty-free platform, Fliggy Buy. Integrating such third-party vendors into travel retail ecosystems is relatively new and will change the industry in the long term.”
Mark Childerhouse, director at Pioneer Group, said: “The biggest trends in airports for 2020 are personalization and making high-end shopping an attainable luxury for the modern traveller.
“Retail shops need to focus on delivering experiences which offer one of two things: ultimate convenience, or a luxury experience. Business travelers are searching for both of these items simultaneously, and with the time-poor traveller spending more hours in airports than with free time at the destination, offering service, quality and a memorable moment is all-important.
“Retail owners need to work out how to leverage their brand equity and play to their consumers requirements, while also reducing any barriers to purchase. There is nothing more stressful than waiting in queues to pay while your flight is on its final call.”
The executive chairman of Hellenic Duty Free Shops S.A, George Velentzas, said: “It’s important to fully accommodate today’s and tomorrow’s travelers’ needs. Even though, traditionally, duty-free business attracted customers with lower budgets, this is no longer what today’s customers are after.
“To create better value proposition and offer a unique experience, the duty-free sector must add a strong local flavor. Local foods holds 37% of the total sales in Greece. We educate our personnel on Mediterranean diet and local liquor. In 2018 we launched a new concept, All Greek to Me, that offers unique souvenirs, Hellenic gourmet, (and) Greek designers’ fashion masterpieces.”