Travel retailers can look forward to growing sales over the next few years, according to market research organization Technavio. The prediction? Global duty-free retail will grow 8.56 per year until 2021. But while the number of international passengers is growing, retailers face the challenge of getting those travelers into the store and enticing them to spend. Technavio also found that in any busy international airport, only 5-10 percent of travelers visit duty-free retail stores in the terminal.
Retailers in airports, ferry terminals and train stations need ways to attract and engage passengers and deliver a unique and convenient shopping experience – no matter what currency their customers use, or what language they speak.
Here are four key travel shopping trends to look out for, with our suggestions on how to maximize the opportunities they bring.
1. Passengers use technology for convenience
Airports, airlines and ferry terminals have become hubs for passenger data, using multiple digital touchpoints to enable efficient check-in and boarding processes. At the same time, passengers are embracing technology to make every step of their journey as easy as possible according to SITA, which notes that 98 percent of airline passengers carry at least one mobile device – and 70 percent carry two or more.
Retailers who embrace that desire for digital can provide a seamless shopping experience that entices passengers into the store and engages with them before, during and after their trip.
To make your store part of the passenger’s digital journey:
- Partner with travel operators to have access to the information needed to create personalized offers and recommendations when passengers book their tickets or check in for their trip.
- Engage with travelers on social media to create tailored offers and encourage in-store check-ins.
- Connect mobile apps, web and in-store technology to create a seamless shopping experience. For example, make sure passengers can buy online and collect at the store before their journey or at their destination.
- Stay top of the traveler’s mind by creating a loyalty program with targeted offers that can easily be accessed on mobile devices.
2. Travelers’ shopping habits are changing
Millennials travel more than any other generation, but they have different shopping habits. Nielsen found that 63 percent of millennial travelers say they shop at airports ‘to spend time’, 44 percent are motivated to buy a gift at the airport, around 30 percent shop to treat themselves and 28 percent buy on impulse. With no geographical limits on their retail experience, they look for uniqueness at a great value anywhere on their journey. Travel retailers need to adapt and deliver experiences that match the moods, interests and personalities of this unpredictable group.
To entice tomorrow’s travelers to purchase:
- Connect to travelers using the channels they choose – from mobile apps and social media to digitized displays in store.
- Offer personalized and location-based deals and recommendations tailored to their interests.
- Create unique experiences such as pop-up features and promotions to attract travelers.
- Use flight information and airport timetables to tailor offers to the travel experience, including the passenger’s destination and the time left before they embark.
3. Checkout should be as fast as check-in
Travelers value quick and easy check-in, baggage and boarding processes, and they expect the same when paying for their purchases. But the need to support different languages, currencies and tax rates, as well as the regulatory requirements of different countries, can bring complexity and delays to the travel retail checkout.
To make sure your checkout is smooth and efficient:
- Provide a range of checkout options, so your customers can choose how they’d like to pay. Options can include mobile app, online, self-serve kiosks or mobile POS.
- Allow travelers to check prices and pay in any currency, or combination of currencies, they choose.
- Make sure your retail software is packed with travel and duty-free functionality, so you can easily capture passport and boarding pass information to calculate tax based on aspects such as nationality, route and destination.
- Use digital tools to support as many languages as possible throughout the store and at the checkout.
4. Success lies in a happy medium
Stocking the products that match travelers’ tastes is a fine balancing act. With limited time to capture customers’ interest, retailers can’t afford to run out of stock. But in a busy terminal, or on a ferry, there is no room for excess either. Knowing what sells well to various passenger groups in different locations is increasingly important to enticing travelers and boosting sales, as well as to ensuring efficient operations.
To optimize your performance:
- Use Business Intelligence tools to see where sales occur, understand shopping patterns and see how passengers in different locations respond to your promotions.
- Automate stock ordering based on average sales and stock levels so you always have the products travelers want to buy.
- Integrate retail and supply chain systems for efficient ordering and insights into supply and demand.
- Use apps, loyalty programs and online interactions to get information about travelers’ tastes and interests.
As travel retail continues to grow, you can make your stores part of a seamless travel experience by engaging with passengers through digital and physical channels, staying relevant to their needs and interests and providing a slick and convenient experience, wherever they’re heading.