Shopping in transit

Long gone are the days when all that motorway service stations, airports and train stations offered travellers was a refueling break between destinations. Around the world, travel venues are redefining what they can offer passengers and motorists in the way of a meaningful experience and, more often than not, they’re using digital technology to go about it.

Take Frankfurt Airport, for example. Having served 61 million people in 2015, it’s one of Europe’s busiest transport hubs. And with more than 300 shops, it’s also Germany’s largest shopping mall. An abundance of both footfall and retail space means there is an opportunity for shoppers and retailers alike, but maximising this opportunity means taking a holistic approach for a truly streamlined process. That’s why the airport has implemented an app that allows for an omni-channel shopping experience.

Customers can order their goods en route to the airport from their taxi and, rather than picking it up themselves, a shopworker locates them at their gate and hand delivers their goods. With this approach the digital shopping experience can be adaptive and intuitive. If a flight is delayed, for example, a passenger will receive a notification via the app that allows them to make a restaurant reservation while they wait. Passengers returning home to empty fridges, meanwhile, can stock up on groceries in-flight through their mobile devices and then collect their shopping once they’ve cleared the gate.

On the other side of the world at Mumbai International Airport, its Mumbai T2 App allows passengers to buy goods from a total of 150 shops. In an airport in which almost 55% of revenue comes from non-aero sources, digital services present a real opportunity to enrich the experience of travellers, which is why the app also features airport maps, retail guides, augmented reality to provide location-based information on nearby facilities, push notifications, a price comparison feature for duty-free items so consumers can see if products will be cheaper at their destination, and a buy and collect service. With more than 100,000 people having already downloaded the app, the new trend towards technology facilitating real-world convenience in a tangible way will gain only more traction.  It isn’t just airports making the most of an omni-channel approach. GuestLogix, the world’s leading provider of onboard retail and payment technology, has successfully collaborated with tourism operators such as Rocky Mountaineer.

Based in Vancouver and offering visitors railway journeys into the Rocky Mountains, the operator was an early pioneer of in-carriage credit card payments for F&B items and merchandise. “Where we’re seeing the significant growth is in the consumption or purchase of products and services for the destination cities,” says Thomas Drohan, senior vice-president and general manager of GuestLogix’sGlobal Rail Division.  This approach means tickets for onward journeys, attractions, theme parks, cultural activities and others can be sold on board. Not only is this convenient for passengers but also helps with the operator’s sales.

Outside of travel hubs, technology is making our lives more streamlined and efficient. It seems only natural that train stations, airports and motorway service stations, as technology-driven places where the worlds of engineering, communications and digital information are crucial to a smooth operation, would be quick on the uptake of the latest in e-commerce and digital retail. When engaging your customer means making it as easy as possible for them to obtain the goods and services they want, it’s no wonder we’re seeing the use of technology in that process.