Amazon and Alibaba ‘not here to takeover duty free and travel retail’

By Luke Barras-hill |


The TFWA Innovation in Action Workshop was held on Tuesday 1 October at the Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic in Cannes.

E-commerce giants Alibaba and Amazon have declared openly they are not out to establish a monopoly over other players in the travel retail industry. 

The comments come in response to a question at the inaugural Innovation in Action Workshop held yesterday (Tuesday 1 October) at the TFWA World Exhibition & Conference in Cannes (30 Sept- 4 Oct).

During a panel session, Julie Menville, Head of France, Amazon Pay and Christina Lu, Chief Marketing Officer Global Travel at Alibaba also said the prospect of a future without bricks and mortar stores was not on their respective agendas.


Lu in particular said the role of the physical space in engaging and interacting with shoppers is ‘indispensable’ and energies should instead be channelled into using technology to enhance the instore experience.

In that way, shops should be an inventory and experience centre with the ability to be redefined in many different forms.

During the workshop, which was held prior to the opening of the TFWA Innovation Lab, Lu outlined Alibaba’s goal to serve two billion consumers and support 10 million enterprises into profitable growth by 2036.

“Globalisation is not just a choice; it’s a must do,” she said.

She went on to describe in some detail how Alibaba’s global market networks are structured, namely around Global Buy, Delivery, Sell, Pay and Fun.

Julia Menville then spoke about innovations for the connected consumer, revealing that Amazon boasts more than 300-plus active accounts worldwide and more than 100m Prime members.

Drawing on research, she said 37% of shoppers are likely to abandon their experience if they are asked to create an account. Meanwhile, Amazon has introduced delivery notifications via Amazon Pay and Amazon Alex in France.

Concourse Display Management’s (CDM) Chris Morriss then addressed the ever-increasing problem of significant demand on earth’s finite natural resources.

He revealed CDM has introduced a ‘Triple R’ strategy to re-design, re-dress and re-use resources, outlining that the biggest opportunity for travel retail exists in moving from a linear economy to a circular one when it comes to recovering, re-using and recycling – a closed-loop economy to avoid or eliminate the strain on the world’s resources.

“As an industry, consumers are demanding a more sustainable approach,” he told the audience. In a useful example, he said Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is aiming at a target of zero waste by 2030.


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