Are Airports Missing the Boat on Passenger Retail?

April 09, 2014 09:43 PM

During my recent trip to Barcelona for Passenger Terminal Expo (PTE), I had the pleasure of a layover in Paris’ Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport.  While at PTE, I attended a session that discussed CDG’s “avenue” showcasing high-end Parisian retail and was excited to have a chance to spend my remaining Euros on a special souvenir de Paris on my return trip home.


After enduring the lines at security, I arrived in Duty Free in Paris.  Knowing that I had a flight to catch to Atlanta, I wondered how much time I actually had to shop. Caving in to my traveler anxiety, I shuffled through Duty Free and window shopped Hermes.  After getting lunch at a gate-side restaurant, I still had Euros burning a hole in my pocket.  Like many travelers, I was afraid to miss my flight and wander too far from my gate. Passengers were already queuing, even though we had an hour before boarding.


While I was prepared to shop in the airport that day, most passengers are not.  It was stated during a retail session at PTE that 80% of retail buyers don’t know they are going to buy something until the product is presented to them. Passengers are much more likely to buy if they can see the product.  This brings me to my point: without omni-channel merchandising, airports are missing retail revenue.


Picture this omni-channel scenario:


I arrive at the airport and I receive a mobile message welcoming me and letting me know of all the great shops that are available. I go through customs and security, and receive another mobile message telling me how much time I have until boarding and what shops are in the terminal. I also receive a mobile coupon with 10% off my purchase of a croissant and coffee. 


I use my mobile coupon and arrive at the gate, but my shopping doesn’t stop there.  At the gate, I see a shopping kiosk where I can scan my ticket to see offers at my final destination of Atlanta.  I purchase tickets to the Atlanta Zoo by swiping my credit card at the kiosk. While on my mobile phone, I open a catalog of airport retail offers and decide to buy Parisian chocolates for my kids, which I pick up while boarding the plane.  At this point, the airport captures its full potential of my wallet.


Now picture this scenario with twice the terminal traffic.  IATA predicts that the number of global passengers will double over the next 20-25 years. Further, the IATA Fast Travel Program has the goal of reducing the amount of time it takes to reach duty free to 10 minutes for departing passengers. With additional passengers and time, airports will need to begin using multiple channels to navigate large crowds and capture more purchases. Omni-channel solutions, like those mentioned above, will allow airports to increase ancillary sales and improve the traveler experience.


For more information on how airports can increase ancillary sales, download our free webinar.