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Are you making the most of your travel retail opportunities? Rosemary Chegwyn considers some of the retail dilemmas faced by Asia-Pacific’s gateways.

An age old question is what do people do to pass the time while waiting at the airport to board their flight? 

The answer depends on many different things, of course, perhaps most notably who you are travelling with, if anyone, and the reason for the journey – work, pleasure or something else.

While some might curl up and sleep, others might read a good book, play on their laptop or make phone calls, once airside the vast majority of people will stretch their legs by browsing through the airport’s shops and maybe visiting a bar
or F&B outlet. 

And with over 118 million domestic and international passengers travelling through the 11 largest airports in Australia each year alone, there’s a real opportunity for brands to reach and effectively engage with this captive audience. 

But making the most of this retail opportunity and persuading passengers who are effectively a captive audience, is not as easy as it sounds! 

There are, for example, many differences between the travel retail environment and the domestic retail landscape. In travel retail, for instance, brands only have a small window of opportunity to attract and engage customers and convert sales, all the while competing side by side with a wider range of other brands and products on offer. 

Consumer shopping habits also change in the travel retail market, as customers are more inclined to browse through the full range of brands on offer. Therefore, brands need to be aware of these differences to make the most of this environment and capture customer’s attention. 

With these factors in mind, it’s important for point of sale solutions (POS) to be particularly effective in travel retail as they
will stimulate and, hopefully, capture the customer’s attention and drive sales. 

When airport retailers allow for personalisation of the POS units, it’s an opportunity for brands to create a fully branded, engaging experience. Indeed, POS should be an integral part of any marketing strategy, as it acts as the permanent face of the brand to consumers. 

By complementing the airport sales staff, the POS unit should act as the ‘silent sales person’ conveying exactly what a sales person would do for a customer if they were at a department store. 

So why is the execution of POS so crucial to the success of brands in the travel retail space? Here are some strategies for marketers to create effective POS solutions in the travel retail environment. 

Understanding the travelling consumer

It’s important to understand the shopping patterns of the travelling consumer to create an engaging POS unit. This can be achieved through research and by gaining information from the airport retailers. 

There is a plethora of research into travel retail available such as MarketResearch.com’s Everyday beauty brands travel retail research and Euromonitor International’s Travel Retail in Australia report.

Understand the airport environment

The layout of most airports are structured in a way that takes into consideration passenger flow patterns through the airport. This structure is designed so that travellers physically pass and browse past brands and categories as they make their way to their flight gate. 

In a typical perfume and cosmetic travel retail environment there is less space available per brand when compared to the domestic retail environment, so brands need to make the most of what they have. 

Brands may have to use gondolas (freestanding units) to display products and further facilitate customer browsing. It’s then the role of the POS unit to grab the customer’s attention and provide a reason to stay longer with the particular brand. 

For example, at the Perth International Airport’s Arrivals and Departures Hall, Coty Travel Retail Asia Pacific and EDA had to incorporate two brands onto the one gondola while still staying true to the character of each brand. 

They did this by using different branding and logos as well as using different materials for each brand. Gold and marble, for instance, was used on the Balenciaga side of the unit, while back-sprayed glass was used for Marc Jacobs. 

Attract and engage customers

One way to attract customers to the POS unit is through the use of large brand names as well as impactful visuals to inspire shoppers to explore the brand. Strategic lighting can also be used to highlight each product and encourage customers to pick it up. 

Consistency is also important when designing a POS unit to ensure it has clearly recognisable branding and customers can find the brand no matter what location the unit is in (domestic or travel retail). 

Point of sale is integral in shaping brand identity and brand recognition for consumers. POS units need to display the brand’s latest products and trends, requiring the units to be kept up to date and constantly evolving with the brand. 

Many brands are also starting to experiment with adding a digital element to their POS units to engage customers. For example, the OPI unit at the Perth International Airport incorporated an iPad to allow customers to use the OPI app to create their own look with the brand’s suite of nail polishes. 

Digital elements such as this can help attract customers to the unit and engage them in a new way to explore the brand. 

Travel retail is an environment where brands are continually experimenting with new ways to engage customers and often set trends before being rolled out to the domestic retail environment. 

Creating cutting edge POS solutions is essential for brands to attract and engage customers in the travel retail environment and grow company sales. 


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