Duty Free Retail Design

When I think of Duty Free retail areas at airports, to be honest they usually fill me with horror. Firstly I can’t stand the design and the fact that I HAVE to walk through them to get to the departure areas. Please let me choose to go and shop or at least make an effort to entice me in. As I am forced to walk around I begin to despise the consumerist world we live in and the whole concept of shopping. Bright dazzling lights, masses of product stacked up everywhere. This is not my idea of a brilliant shopping experience. And you no longer get a bargain. The rise of digital has led to a diminishing price advantage for Duty Free Shops. Annoyingly, the price of my Chanel make up is usually the same as online, or perhaps slightly more expensive.

Surprise me! Seduce Me! Astonish Me!
For me personally the most enjoyable shopping experience is one where I am seduced, where my senses are awakened, where I am relaxed and everything is easy. Exciting product areas which entice me to discover them…a sense of theatre and I definitely want soft lighting. Nobody feels good in super bright, white lighting. If you seduce me I guarantee you I will buy as much as I can afford and probably more, as I, like many am a sucker for a beautiful experience, wonderful product and gorgeous packaging. Position the same product in a harshly lit brash shop and I won’t go near it.

There are many opportunities within Duty Free at airports to create the most exquisite and exciting shopping experiences. If Duty Free could be customer centric in approach rather than just focussing on product, it would be on a winning streak.

What is the Duty Free Shopping opportunity?
The international airport is a perfect place to create an exceptional 24 hour shopping experience. The target customer is diverse and very often (unless running late for a plane) they have time to kill, bored waiting for gate numbers to come up or for delayed planes. Airport retailers have the opportunity to make the shopping journey less of a process. The creation of wondrous, magical moments of theatre, as well as using design and technology to make life easier for the customer, will make the experience more enjoyable and will ultimately result in increased sales.

1. Global passenger traffic is growing
3. Disposable income is at an all time high
4. There is a captive audience
5. There is an opportunity to save time
6. People are bored and open to entertainment
7. Gifts for loved ones are commonplace
8. Travellers always want souvenirs

How can technology enhance the Duty Free shopping experience?
Airports are essentially logistics eco-systems. Complex networks of interconnected retailers, customer types, expectations, travel requirements, speeds of living. There is therefore a need to try and make the process of being in and shopping in an airport easier and more enjoyable. There is a great opportunity to make the Duty Free Shopping retail space more digitally connected. Digital strategies can shape a convenient, relevant customer proposition, putting the customer first.

How wonderful would it be if we could actually shop the whole Duty Free collection from digital screens when on the flight. This would allow us to make the most of dead time on the plane. We could do our research, shopping in peace, press buy and have the items all ready and packaged up on arrival.

Imagine being able to shop from the lounge areas using digital screens and have the products brought to you as you stay in your seat drinking a glass of Perrier-Jouët.

As you queue up to go through check-in or security, order food and drinks through the airport app so as to avoid the regular aeroplane stodge. Who wouldn’t prefer a large plate of Itsu sushi with edamame beans over aeroplane lasagne? :p

Download the airport app to monitor gate times and flight updates. Receive push notifications with relevant content and messages as the app connects to ibeacons throughout the retail, food and beverage space.
Where space is scarce for some retailers at airports, digital provides the perfect opportunity. Rather than wondering which collections to sell in small spaces, why not create an engaging digital showroom where customers can shop from the entire range and get the items delivered directly to their homes. Inspiring visual merchandising displays can showcase seasonal collections and tell brand stories. Virtual mirrors enable people to virtually try on clothes.

Digital at the centre of the shopping experience makes life so much easier and enjoyable for the passenger: freeing up the customer’s hands, enabling multi-purchase, entertaining with interactive media and offering them targeted, personal content.

The duty free retail space at airports has the potential to become the most cutting-edge designed, supersonic shopping destination in that city. A department store of retailers and brands that customers genuinely look forward to shopping at!