Retail inMotion Technology: The Story So Far

From Chips to Chip & Pin 

Retail inMotion began its journey as a supplier of onboard retail food and beverage products such as water, coffee, cakes, and potato crisps and is now the world-leading provider of retail technology solutions to the airline industry. 

RiM technology was born from the need to better manage and reconcile physical inventory as product sales grew in the early years of the business. By 2009, a fully functioning system was in use on a daily basis handling a growing list of products. The company identified the need to create an innovative and scalable inflight retail technology solution to support these product sales.

Jan Blanchard, RiM CCO with Michael O’Leary, Ryanair CEO

Retail inMotion CCO Jan Blanchard began marketing the company technology offering in 2012. “We grew fast, there was an opportunity in the airline onboard retail space to bring modern and reliable technologies, so we helped close the gap with agile cycles and fast deployments,” he commented.

Innovation as part of our core DNA

In late 2012, RiM delivered the world’s first Android mobile point of sales application to the airline industry. At the time, sales and payment technology used onboard aircraft was inflexible, outdated and expensive. Retail inMotion deployed its core point of sales solution using a modern mobile application available on both Android and iOS. This was a turning point in the industry and the end of the “brick payment devices”.

Additionally, airlines were seeking to provide their cabin crew members with a ‘digital suitcase’ in the form of a mobile device which would act as a single source of information for their employees including roster, destination and passenger information as well as the POS application.

“We have helped some of the largest airlines in the world to transform their retail program from an opaque legacy system to a transparent, digitized, flexible, cashless and paperless solution where the airlines can gain fast access to real data with the ability to make immediate adjustments to the retail program across their network” added Jan Blanchard.

Launch of Air France digital airline, Joon

Rapid growth

This innovation enabled the company to grow rapidly and to deploy our end-to-end digital retail platform to a wide variety of airlines worldwide. In a period of just five years, we grew from a small team of dedicated engineers to a structured organization of more than 120 full time employees who managed to onboard and launch our solutions onboard 42 new airlines in this time.

Following the acquisition by the LSG Group in 2016, Retail inMotion’s technology unit expanded its reach to all continents of the world, opening offices in Europe, America, Middle East and Asia.

Key to the successful expansion of RiM was the continuous development of its solutions to provide a platform that could be used by many different airline types. “Whether it is a pre-selection solution for an established full service airline, an integrated sales and passenger information solution for a leisure airline or a highly efficient sales application for a low cost carrier, the RiM solutions ensure that both the revenue needs of the airline and the service expectations of the passenger are met,” commented James Kelly, Head of Technology Sales, EMEA. 

RiM HQ People Wall

Payment Innovation – Proprietary technology

As RiM expanded their technology platform, they quickly realized that payment processing for inflight transactions was outdated and in need of adaptation for modern PCI guidelines and emerging additional consumer payment types. The fees to process offline transactions were also extremely high and inappropriate to the transaction amounts and volume associated with inflight retail. As a result, and from an early point, Retail inMotion built its own proprietary payment gateway, which became the cornerstone of the company growth.

“Payment was complicated with many stakeholders and intermediaries who were applying fees and adding processing time. Building our payment gateway meant we could control the growth of our platform and incrementally deploy to more acquirers, payment methods, countries and airlines while keeping control of the payment flows and associated fees,” Jan added.

Today, the company processes transactions in 32 countries and is integrated with leading acquirers across the world. It implements unique solutions, in dealing with re-submission processes, refunds and anti-fraud mechanisms, which are all specific to the airline deployments. 

“Offline transactions flows are unique and only required in niche markets such as the airline industry; we became an expert in handling these scenarios,” Jan commented.

As a result, Retail inMotion is now enabling 15% of all commercial aircraft to process transaction onboard and operate onboard retail programs.

Contactless transaction processing onboard

Growth of Digital Packing solutions network in Europe

To further support the evolution of the inflight retail environment, RiM developed and deployed a Warehouse based product packing solution specifically for airlines. This solution allowed for full inventory control and tracking of all products that were loaded onboard each aircraft. Additionally, it enabled the airlines to tailor their onboard offering depending on route, passenger preferences and other variables.

The solution is now in service with airlines all over the world in more than 300 individual airport warehouses providing a single system to manage the product range from order to consumption.

Passenger ordering before and during the flight

Our tech teams are in constant transformation; over the last few years, we have invested in numerous modular product extensions and key innovations, which have now become part of our DNA and represent a necessity to continue to grow, innovate and deploy new products to a constantly changing and exceptionally demanding retail environment.

“From an early stage, our strategy has been to provide airlines with a holistic technology platform to include all touch points of the passenger experience,” Jan explained. “That meant providing digital solutions to airline managers, crew, catering and packing companies and at the same time integrating all stakeholders and service providers to enable the passenger to truly choose their food experience.”