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 VR store locators, airport hubs are ensuring that passengers make the most of their limited time before boarding. GlobalData reveals trends for U.K. airport retail from experts.
“Airport retail will become the way customers shop in the future. One reason is that it’s tax-free,” says Shane Finlay, chief value adviser for retail at SAP UK. “Delivering good experiences will depend on connecting customer experience data with operational data.”
AOE Founder and CEO Kian Gould sees four trends that could shape airport retail for the next decade: the transition to omnichannel, luxury product performance, infrastructure, and third-party vendors.
“There is a definite trend toward luxury items in travel retail,” says Gould. “Passenger buying behavior has changed dramatically. Passengers research, check availability, and compare prices online—and then purchase the products at the airport.”
Pioneer Group Director Mark Childerhouse also sees opportunity in luxury. He says stores need to deliver convenience or a luxury experience. “Business travelers are searching for both of these items simultaneously, and with the time-poor traveler spending more hours in airports than with free time at the destination, offering service, quality, and a memorable moment is all important.”
George Velentzas, executive chairman of Hellenic Duty Free Shops, believes localization remains an important factor.
“To create better value proposition and offer a unique experience, the duty-free sector must add a strong local flavor,” says Velentzas. “Local foods hold 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, Greek designers’ fashion masterpieces.”