Melvin Broekaart, Managing Director – AirCommerce

The roll out of order pick-up machines at airport hubs are allowing e-commerce merchants to steal a march on travel retailers. With wide product assortments and low price points, travel retail must up its game to compete.

There are two types of purchases made in travel retail – the products bought to use on arrival back home and the items bagged for the journey or immediately after a trip such as gifts, books, batteries and so forth. While the latter may once have been regarded as a relatively ‘safe’ haven and exactly the type of purchase customers would be sure to make in travel retail, e-commerce merchants have found a way to compete at the airport. By allowing travellers to order online and collect purchases from pick-up machines at the airport (in arrivals or departures), e-commerce vendors can often offer a wider assortment of products than the more limited airport selection plus the potential benefits of lower pricing.
The roll out of order pick-up machines such as Amazon Locker, DHL Packstation and PostNL parcel lockers has increased of late, with airports among the benefactors. Amazon Lockers were installed at Birmingham airport last September, for example, so that the nine million passengers who pass through have the option to pick up their goods in the south check-in hall, 24 hours a day. It was the first time that Amazon Lockers have been placed at an airport following their popularity at travel terminals. PostNL parcel lockers were also installed at Amsterdam Schiphol airport towards the end of last year.

Amazon Locker Birmingham Airport

Amazon Locker inside the terminal at UK’s Birmingham airport. Deliveries made to Amazon Lockers within the UK have more than doubled in the last year as customers continue to enjoy the flexibility the service provides. Source: www.birminghamairport.co.uk.

The competition is stiff as some premium and exclusive products are even available on e-commerce sites such as Amazon at particularly competitive prices. For example, when comparing the price of the Marc Jacobs Daisy 50ml EDT spray across the websites of World Duty Free and Gebr. Heinemann with Amazon (see table), Amazon came out on top with the cheapest price. Indeed the lack of consistency in product savings between retailers in travel retail can sometimes mean that the discount is reduced and consumers lose trust in the overall concept of duty free. This could ultimately push shoppers into the hands of e-commerce retailers in future, where order pick-up ma-chines are growing in stature. So travel retail must unite to re-assure consumers that the channel is the undisputed place to shop for both value and price consistency before online counterparts gain further ground and credence within the airport environment.

RETAILER

PRICE Marc Jacobs Daisy 50ml EDT

DIFFERENCE

GEBR. HEINEMANN

€ 59.00

AMAZON.DE

€ 45.50

-23%

WORLD DUTY FREE

£ 38.00

AMAZON.CO.UK

£ 30.19

-21%

Price comparison of Marc Jacobs Daisy 50ml EDT spray across e-commerce merchants and travel retailers. Comparison date 09-09-2015.