Travel hubs such as railway and tube stations often exploit the recurring nature of commuter footfall through their stores but travel retail designers who work for airports have to use a different tack to increase sales from customers who might only pass through once a year. The trend now in airport retail design is to focus on personalisation as they tailor their ranges specifically to different sets of customers and many airlines are now assisting the retailers in doing so by providing demographic information from their passenger lists. The focus is to make the sales as convenient as possible – in some cases taking trade from online retailers by making it more convenient to buy at the travel hub and collect the goods there or have them delivered home, than to buy online.
As previously reported on this blog, the trend for vending machines for chilled foods in other areas of the globe such as the US and Japan and , and the scannable ‘shopping walls’ being used in South Korea – which enable customers to scan QR codes to buy their desired goods – are slowly catching on over here in the UK. Gatwick recently implemented a trial-run of an interactive Tesco billboard which allowed shoppers to order their groceries on their smartphones and arrange for them to be delivered in time for when they get home from their trip. (Well, there’s nothing worse than getting home after a two week trip to no fresh milk or tea bags is there?).
The use of smart technologies either to place online orders or order large items including white goods, mean that retailers whom you might never have envisaged as selling from an airport – such as Tesco or Dixons are now able to do so with ease – whilst also utilising the larger spaces and varied demographic to test new ideas. Other travel hubs such as railway stations have witnessed these successes and are also now catching onto the trend, concentrating on the diverse aspects of their retail proposition such as their shopping habits and preferences. This has resulted in many new stores occupying retail spaces in train stations where they might not have considered it a viable option before.
Foyles the book store have just opened their seventh UK store, with two being located at railway stations in London – Waterloo and St Pancras. Division Manager, Susan Sinclair, suggests that the two stations provide two “quite different offerings”, as the flow of passengers through St Pancras is more internationally diverse than those who pass through Waterloo.
Foyles Peak shopping hours at the train stations were traditionally between 5pm to 7pm but this has been extended to 9pm as they noticed that many customers liked to shop for an hour or so after work. This means that the store is gaining custom from shoppers who would normally buy online as they are more convenient to passing trade – as Susan Sinclair explains:
“It’s good for us to be in the stations because we’re getting more trade from people who would otherwise shop online. We can convert these customers to our offering.”
By observing different factors such as demographic and shopping habits and responding quickly to changes these stores have capitalised on the market and in some cases have successfully drawn sales away from online retail by working strategically to surpass the convenience of their proposition.