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  • Study: Airport retailers will increase sales with self-service, mobile & wayfinding

Airports and airport retailers looking to better serve and generate more revenue from today's time-starved and mobile-enabled travelers are missing opportunities to do so, according to a survey of travelers in the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany conducted by Opinion Research Corporation for NCR Corp., a manufacturer of self-service, retail, wayfinding and mobile solutions.

According to the survey, 23 percent of travelers in Germany, 30 percent in France, 34 percent in the United Kingdom and 35 percent in the United States said they find it difficult to find the stores, restaurants and other retail offerings at airports in the limited amount of time they have.

Considering that more than 1.5 billion people travel by air each year, these findings represent a huge amount of lost revenue potential from travelers who may have been interested in making purchases at an airport retailer, restaurant or service provider but feared getting lost or missing a flight because they weren't sure where the outlets were located, Tyler Craig, vice president and general manager, NCR Travel, said in a company press release.

"This survey highlights the vast untapped potential airports still have to serve travelers who have the time and inclination to shop," Craig said. "Airports today get nearly 50 percent of their revenue from non-aviation sources. By employing some of the technologies used by today's retailers such as mobile marketing and interactive digital signage, airports can more effectively communicate with and make offers to travelers, boosting revenue while making their airports more welcoming, entertaining and user-friendly."

In France, Germany and the United Kingdom, 65, 57 and 53 percent, respectively, of survey participants agreed that an alert on their mobile phones letting them know they should begin making their way to their gate and showing them the way would encourage them to shop more and alleviate their fear of missing a flight. (The question was not asked in the U.S. survey).

Mobile solutions also have the potential to drive retail purchases at airport stores and restaurants, with 48 percent of travelers in Germany, 40 percent in the United States and 36 percent in both France and the United Kingdom listing "Retail or food discount coupons delivered to your mobile device or paper boarding pass" as the top incentive to shop more at airports. Other technologies that might tempt travelers to shop more, according to the survey, include self-checkouts to speed retail transactions and endless aisle technology allowing shoppers to browse for and purchase merchandise not available in the airport store and having those items delivered to their homes following their trips.

Food, beverages and reading material like books, magazines and newspapers are among the most popular items travelers in the four countries said they purchase at the airport. In the United States, 73 percent of shoppers said they purchased food or drink at the airport, compared to 60 percent in the United Kingdom, 43 percent in Germany and only 23 percent in France. In the United Kingdom, 65 percent of travelers said they purchased books, newspapers or magazines at the airport, compared to 63 percent of travelers in Germany, 53 percent in France and 48 percent in the United States.

Among items surveyed, only between 2 and 4 percent of travelers in the four countries surveyed indicated they had purchased services like manicures, massage, haircuts or business lounge access at airports.

"It's not surprising that services should be so low on the list," Craig said, "since in many airports these services are newer offerings or offerings travelers may not know they can get at the airport. For the retailers offering such services, there may be opportunities to boost consideration and use with mobile- or printed-boarding pass advertising or offers. Airports may also consider wayfinding solutions as a way to direct travelers to these services to maximize revenue for the store owner and the airport."

The online surveys were conducted in March with about 1,000 consumers answering questions in each country.

Read more about retail.

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