Consumer expectations are rising as ever, so it is not surprising that consumer convenience and experience are a prominent focus for many airport retailers entering 2017. Airport retailers have the opportunity to turn travelling from a procedure into an experience. As digital developments continue to evolve, there are endless opportunities to make use of the limited time passengers have when passing through an airport.
Digital and technology developments have already been delivering convenient advances to passengers including many airports running ‘shop and collect’ schemes be it on return or arrival. This initiative relieves the restriction of baggage allowance which could have previously limited the amount or size of purchases from consumers that are willing and wanting to spend – opening a new door to increase the average spend from passengers!
Another strategy that has been introduced is digital shopping in exclusive/VIP lounges, where passengers can enjoy a relaxing experience; spend with F&B tenants whilst also shopping online and having their purchases delivered to them before their flight. This initiative enhances the passenger experience, utilises the limited time passengers have before boarding and really develops the convenience of the retail experience. This development could and is being developed across other aspects of airports through 2017.
The enhancements in technology and digital developments offer more data to airports which can be shared with retailers. This data is invaluable and needs to be analysed and acted upon quickly to ensure consumer behaviour is understood and services are being tailored to make the most of each passenger. This includes airports sharing guaranteed footfall with retailers to ensure proficient stock levels are prepared and effective strategies can be implemented.
Another trend for 2017 is the futuristic development of Robots. This is not necessarily a new introduction as they have been making sporadic appearances over recent years to aid with tasks such as baggage handling, car parking and customer service, but, some major airports have made robotics a particular interest for wider technology investments for the next 12 months – watch this space, they could become a great deal more prevalent!
Although digital initiatives are becoming increasingly more popular and truly enhance the passenger experience whilst delivering data opportunities, footfall in physical stores is still a core focus. Digital cannot compete with the opportunities presented to physical stores and airport retailers have endless opportunities to make their retail space an experiential venue, encouraging consumers to enter the store rather than shopping online.
In an attempt to extend the ‘golden hour’ passengers have between security and going to gate there is a management focus on tightening airport operations to run as quickly and as smoothly as possible whilst also concentrating on guest experience. This focus will give passengers more to time to spend in the retail and F&B environment, and if they’ve had an enjoyable experience, sales could be expected to rise as it has been known that happy customers spend more! This will not only increase footfall and sales, but also improve the overall asset and business value of the airport.
A lot of investment in redevelopment and refurbishment can be seen across UK airports to expand the retail offering and provide a hotel-like experience. 2016 saw the news of Heathrow’s expansion confirmed and many other airports applying and being granted permission for developments and expanding their route network. These developments anticipate the number of passengers to rise, increasing footfall and therefore offering more opportunities to airport retailers.
With airport footfall rising, technology developments booming and passenger’s still showing spending confidence, 2017 is set to be another strong year for airport and travel retail!
Kat Whitehead, Marketing Executive, Foundation Recruitment