Different routes, same destination

18/07/2017 Thanks to the relentless march of e-commerce, shopping is increasingly an online experience these days. But the complexities of cross-border travel mean flexibility and creativity are needed to give duty free and travel retail a digital dimension. 

The contrasting approaches taken by two exhibitors at TFWA Digital Village (1-6 October in Cannes) underline that a variety of business models can help retailers and brands enhance their traveller proposition. “The DutyFreeList concept is to create a single platform for duty free products offered by retailers and airlines on their own websites” says the company’s Kshitij Goyal. As well as aggregating the ranges of several retailers at one online location, DutyFreeList allows travellers to pre-order and pay when they collect the goods in-store or onboard. It’s a model that builds on the retailer’s existing digital offer or even creates a pre-order website if there’s not one already in place. “This significantly reduces the time, effort and investment for retailers and airlines, whether big or small”, explains Goyal, adding that he can start pre-order operations within an hour of a partner’s agreement to collaborate. DutyFreeList can also manage its clients’ social media presence to maximise their digital revenues. With several major retailers and airlines already tested for performance and visibility, the company aims to show its concept to potential partners at TFWA Digital Village later this year.

Rather than an e-commerce provider, DutyBuddy describes itself as an “omnichannel solution”. Co-founder Cenk Akerson elaborates: “We are the first platform that allows friends to shop together around the world, even though some of them won’t be travelling physically.” His company harnesses the ‘shopping for others’ concept in an app that lets users see where their friends are travelling, order items for purchase and pre-pay. This interaction adds a social element to the transaction. Like DutyFreeList, DutyBuddy leverages retailers’ existing proposition in what Akerson calls a “symbiotic business model that offers incremental sales without heavy investment”. Pointing out that retailer awareness among travellers is low, he says DutyBuddy can create value for duty free and travel retail by providing a distinctive shopper experience “open to all industry players”.

A trial is underway in Northern Cyprus, and fast-growing Texan vodka brand Tito’s will be one of DutyBuddy’s early partners. The company will use its presence at TFWA Digital Village to explain the product and forge more partnerships. “In the end, we plan to play a key role in leading the duty free industry into the digital age”, says Cenk Akerson. 

An hour-long Digital Village Ideas Lab is planned for Friday 6 October at the Gare Maritime in Cannes. The session, compered by Portland Design, will give each Digital Village exhibitor an opportunity to briefly present their themselves and their offer. Timing will be confirmed shortly.

TFWA Digital Village is a new initiative to showcase creative digital solutions and services to the 12,000 duty free and travel retail professionals attending TFWA World Exhibition & Conference 2017 (1-6 October in Cannes). Occupying 840m2 of prime floor space for three full days, around 30 exhibitors will have the chance to meet and do business with the leading decision-makers and senior executives of a dynamic, premium sector keen to embrace new technology. Find out more here.

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