[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.