[INTERVIEW] The evolution of onboard retail

Retail inMotion believes that the onboard retail business will expand as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic as more and more airlines will introduce Buy-on-Board as they transition from traditional catering to onboard retail.

Digitalization will not only support social distancing but also enable a faster and more convenient way of processing pre- and in-flight sales for passengers and crew members.

In an interview with Runway Girl Network, Jan Blanchard, Retail inMotion Chief Commercial Officer, discussed the trends that will influence the new normal in aviation, how RiM is supporting airlines as they navigate these challenging times, and more! 

Runway Girl Network: What trends will influence the new normal in aviation?

Jan Blanchard: As airlines have to recapitalize and enforce cost-saving measures, they are now focusing on offering more choice to passengers and generating additional revenue. Most airlines around the world are currently re-evaluating their onboard proposition, and we believe that some form of onboard retail will become prevalent for most carriers, especially for short-haul, economy class, and leisure travel operations.

Given that our solution is already deployed across multiple airline types from ultra low-cost carriers to tour operators and legacy flag carriers, we believe that we have what it takes to support this market shift. As passengers return to the air, they will demand sustainability, choice, and value on board.

We also think that the retail environment will extend beyond the cabin to both pre- and post-flight environments and we have already deployed products to support this area. Our Gate Sales solution allows airlines to sell and accept payment for ancillaries at the boarding gate such as excess baggage and last-minute seat upgrades.

Additionally, the RiM pre-order module allows airlines to offer their passengers enhanced retail propositions both at the time of booking and in advance of their flight. This is then integrated to the cabin crew ePOS device, ensuring that the crew can fulfill the specific orders of each passenger whilst on board.

We believe that all onboard food will become available for pre-order before and during the flight.

Jan Blanchard, CCO Retail inMotion

Runway Girl Network: What percentage of onboard catering on long-haul flights constituted pre-order meals before the COVID-19 pandemic? What type of growth do you expect in the future, in a post-pandemic world?

Jan Blanchard: We have noticed that the demand for the pre-order/pre-select solution has increased in the last few months and many major airlines are speeding up the process of implementing a pre-order solution for their passengers. That’s because there are plenty of benefits not just for the airline but also for their passengers.

For the airline, this solution is the answer to an enhanced passenger experience as they can offer a greater meal choice and guaranteed availability to passengers whilst also eliminating unnecessary food waste and additional weight on board.

We already have a couple of success stories; we successfully implemented the pre-order solution for both Ryanair and Alaska Airlines. Within the next three years, we expect the majority of long-haul meals to be pre-selected/pre-ordered by passengers worldwide.

Talking about the future, we also believe that all onboard food will be available for pre-order before and during the flight. Passengers can pre-order items right from the start when they book their flight, which is the case for Ryanair, via the airline app, which Alaska Airlines is using, or even at the airport gate.

Head over to their website to read the full interview. 

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I am an innovative customer centric leader, passionate about people, quality, and the customer. I love that I am empowered here at Retail InMotion to lead our teams to deliver value to the customer. We use our global market expertise and insights to make a difference by driving out impactful innovative solutions. My focus is to partner with our people and customers to drive out and deliver a best-in-class customer experience, the opportunity to lead and transform that experience is what excites me on a day to day basis.

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There is never a dull day working at Retail inMotion, our industry is in a rapid transformation which means the pace is fast and often complex but what I love most about facing these challenges is the people I get to work with every day. Our people are diverse and multicultural and this inevitably creates teams where new ideas and solutions are created – leading these teams is the most rewarding experience.

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Of course, working in a growing company with international colleagues & customers is great - However, what truly delights me, are the teams and personalities working at RiM turning customer ideas into flying concepts! At RiM, there's always room to bring in new ideas on how to reimagine onboard experiences or try out new approaches to drive our business, which I simply love.

Meet Iarfhlaith


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Meet Colin

I am working at RiM since 2015. Watching how the customer base and solution grow into the industry leader during this time still gives me immense pride. It is still, all those years later, truly a special place to work. Without sounding cliché - every day brings something new, usually a new problem we need to resolve. Part of the RiM DNA is problem solving ability and doing this with our teams gives me a lot of satisfaction.

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Head of Retail NAM Region

Best thing about working for RiM is the team of creative, spontaneous and hardworking people that create a memorable Inflight experience for our clients and their guests onboard. We have a very unique culture that encourages each team member to bring their best out for our clients. We all enjoy our jobs and believe in our purpose which makes every work day fun and exciting. As they say there is “never a dull moment” at Retail inMotion.

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Head of OBR EMMA Region

I love working here especially because of the opportunities I was able to experience in different parts of the world and with different colleagues. These past years here have been a lot of work, growth and fun, and this is why we keep working together. Much more yet to come!

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RiM provides me with an environment and culture that empowers myself and my teams. Innovation and creativity are key to this culture and lead to a challenging but highly rewarding career. My role allows me not only to lead business development in my region but also to implement and then ensure performance standards for new business opportunities, so no day is every really the same, the diversity of challenges is a key driver of my personal and professional fulfilment with RiM.

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RiM for me is not only the company I work for but part of my family. I had the chance to build up a team from 6 people to more than 100. More than 50% of the team I interviewed and hired myself. Apart from this, it is the inflight and travel retail industry which offers me the opportunity to work with a totally diverse universe of people and challenges me operationally and strategically every day. This is why I love working at Retail inMotion.

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In House Counsel

I love being a part of a global, committed, innovative, and diverse community bringing our customers and their passengers a better inflight experience.