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Retail therapy

Increasingly, low cost carriers are adopting retail management strategies to drive revenues and cost efficiencies. Keith Mwanalushi looks at some recent onboard retail programmes

Technology is rapidly changing the face of onboard retail. In fact, several carriers are introducing major changes to crew operations through the smart devices used by flight attendants. The flight crew members increasingly have the tools that can enable them to sell smarter.

However, in a recent report by onboard retail specialist Guestlogix, flight attendants are (rightly) preoccupied with fully booked flights and safety obligations – they have limited time to 'wait tables' on passengers. Therefore, airlines are actually missing out on ancillary revenue due to inefficient inventory management, lack of personalisation in what they offer, and the limitation of flight crews.

But some airlines are catching on, by using one form of technology or the other. For just over a year now, low cost airline WOW air has deployed an end-to-end onboard retail solution developed by Retail inMotion (RiM).

During the first few weeks after going live, WOW air reported that it sold over half a million euros worth of products on its flights between Europe and the US, representing a significant increase on our previous sales methods.

Jan Blanchard, Chief Commercial Officer at Retail inMotion (RiM) tells this publication that the partnership with WOW air has been strong since the inflight solution was implemented in February in 2017.

“We enabled the airline to run their programme independently and, therefore, reduce costs,” says Blanchard. He explains that RiM supported WOW with its point of sale solution (vPOS) to process multiple types of credit card payments and multiple currencies on board. The carrier also implemented a packing solution, vPACK, that ensured the right products made it onto the flights every time.

“We are now implementing some predictive analytic tools to further enhance the programme. What is most interesting with WOW is that both companies think alike, we are growing fast and set to make travelling simpler, cheaper and more fun.”

Both companies are relative start-ups which have grown incredibly quickly.

José Lirio Silva, Head of Onboard Retail Europe at Retail inMotion agrees that airlines should be rethinking their retail management strategies considering changing passenger expectations. He says travellers are expecting the same speed of transaction and very much the same level of choice and service that they find on the ground.


“Naturally, there are some obvious space constraints with providing the complete breadth of choice that you can find in your local supermarket,” Lirio Silva explains. >>


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