Stephen Hillam, Research Director, Counter Intelligence Retail (CiR) shared the findings of a new study commissioned by TFWA into the channel. Conversion remains an issue – only a third of travellers browse inflight and, of those, only 36% go on to purchase. The inflight shopper is also becoming older, and while in 2015, 56% of shoppers were over 35, today 70% of those buying inflight are over 40 years old, which is a potential threat.
And yet inflight has many perceived advantages. 46% of inflight shoppers say it is convenient, 31% say it offers better promotions and 28% cite the advantage of not having to queue. Hillam stated that enhancing service, optimising the range and offering the option to pre-order were key in developing the channel.
Joe Harvey, Senior Manager Global Boutique Development at Retail inMotion, said the most important thing the channel has been missing is excitement. Harvey suggested that the reason why we have seen growth for the first time in five years is because we have forgotten about the product, but this is where we have now seen a difference.
Thabet Musleh, Vice President at Qatar Duty Free, stressed the importance of inflight, and said that in his business inflight sales were up 19% at a time when passenger numbers had increased by 9%. Staff members are an important part of the mix, he said, and his company is investing heavily to ensure that inflight is part of the service and not an ‘extra’. It is important to remember that, while digital is important, a significant number of passengers are not digitalised.