Modern air travel is a fragmented experience. Between security checks, harried boarding procedures and more fees than passengers can shake their wallets at, it doesn’t really seem like fertile ground for merchants to make the positive connections valued in contemporary retail.
However, Magento Commerce and the Frankfurt Airport are giving it a go anyhow.
Magento announced at its annual Imagine Commerce conference Wednesday (April 13) that it had finalized a partnership with the Fraport Airport Group to provide omnichannel commerce support to travelers passing through Germany’s Frankfurt Airport. Open-source software group AOE will also provide support for white-label shopping portals. Steve Yankovich, chief product officer at Magento, explained that the increased importance of retail in airports now outfitted with high-value shops is the perfect opportunity for a streamlined consumer-centric experience.
“With the reality of the digitally empowered consumer, commerce today is about going were the customer is,” Yankovich said in a statement. “This requires an omnichannel approach that spans more than just owned channels like stores, kiosks, online and mobile. Retailers will have to extend their inventory to retail partners and channels they don’t directly own. The millions of high value consumers passing through busy airports every day represent a massive commerce opportunity and this project with Fraport and AOE showcases the power of what’s possible on the Magento Platform.”
Though the partnership will likely add more services over time, passengers departing from, connecting to or arriving at Frankfurt will have the ability to browse product catalogs before their planes land and collect their purchases directly from stores without missing a beat on their way to baggage claim. While this might seem like just another extension of extant omnicommerce operations into a new space, Kian Gould, CEO at AOE, explained that there are some unique challenges posed by the highly regulated spaces of airports that make achieving the same kind of seamless shopping experience a different animal entirely.
“Even the most sophisticated omnichannel retail operation has a fraction of the complexity in terms of logistics, security and regulatory requirements that one of the largest airports in the world has,” Gould said in a statement. “We knew from the start that this project would require the unparalleled flexibility of the Magento eCommerce platform, coupled with the robust Magento Commerce Order Management capabilities to manage the complex order processes and fulfillment across channels and geographies including stores, drop shippers, multiple warehouses or third-party logistics companies.”
While Frankfurt Airport may be the first such hub to receive an omnicommerce upgrade, the rising tide of airport-based retail could persuade Magento to bring other airports into the fold and other companies to follow Magento’s lead. According to a 2015 report from RnR Market Research, the global duty-free retail market is expected to grow by a compound annual growth rate of at least 8.6 percent until 2019 – when the market is estimated to be worth $73.6 billion.
Why might Magento and others want to do for other airports what it did for Frankfurt? Because $37.6 billion of that global share will come from hubs in the Asia-Pacific region alone.