A study by A.T. Kearney found in 2007 that airports generate half of their revenue in the "non-aviation" area – meaning all the offers which are not directly linked to flight operations. This includes retail, gastronomy, travel agencies, Duty-Free shops and airport terraces as well as marketing of commercial spaces, parking and other similar activities.
Shopping possibilities at airports in combination with gastronomic and service offers more and more resemble those in shopping malls. But airports have an essential advantage: They do not have to compete for customers. Their numbers have been rising for years because flying is becoming cheaper and cheaper and not something which is reserved for high earners. In July 2015 alone, more than 21.5 million passengers used the German airports.
This is exactly why airport operators have to make more of the retail spaces at their locations. The approaches to do this are very different and many airports do not fully harness their potential. One example to show the opposite would be the Munich airport which has already made itself ready for future customer needs when it comes to product range and customer service.
Those responsible have realized very early that an airport has to offer a different mixture of products than other retail locations. Regional offers play an important role here, like in the flagship store of online fashion retailer “Trachtenkult” which has been opened at the airport just in time for Oktoberfest.
Regionality will also gain in importance at international airports – after all, customers and passengers should always be able to see where exactly they are in the world. A feeling of interchangeability is the last thing an airport operator wants his customers to have.
In the Bavarian "Airport City" alone there are around 200 shops. Customers can experience many innovative retail ideas there which do not exist at other locations - regardless of whether they are on the landside or on the airside. It starts with combined online-offline offers. Like for retail in general, the combination of channels also plays an important role for at airports.
In the online shop of "emmasbox" customers can order food packages which are packed at the airport's own EDEKA supermarket shop and can be collected at a pick-up point with a code provided via SMS or eMail. A great advantage especially for commuters.
Another offer is "Shop & Store": Customers can buy and store their purchases free of charge to collect them after the flight back. With this offer, customers do not have to limit their purchases to the products they can take with them during the flight. And the service goes further: A vending machine provides coupons for all retail and gastronomic outlets in the airport. What's more there is also three hours of free parking for shoppers.
Frankfurt Airport (the biggest airport in Germany) also offers a new store concept with click&collect service and an online shop: The product range of European top brands from the "Tripidi" shop can be looked up online and reserved for collection in the airport's public area.
By using touch screens and other digital solutions, information sources for passengers and shoppers can also be better distributed throughout the terminals and be adapted to the visitor’s needs. Heathrow in London for example provides tablets in the whole airport which visitors can use to browse the web and research flight information. And well oriented visitors reach their destination more quickly and thus have more time to shop at the stores in the airport.
Making the airport more individual and creating offers which can be used by all customers is key to creating an incentive for am longer stay at the airport. This is the basis for a further positive development for retail at airports – and thus the only way to harness their full potential for increased profitability.