InMotion cuts ribbon on 3,400sq ft tech store at London Heathrow Terminal 5

By Luke Barras-hill |

The latest InMotion opening at Heathrow arrives exactly 12 months to the day that Dixons Carphone announced the closure of its airport and cruise stores.

[UPDATED] WHSmith-owned airport technology retailer InMotion unveiled its largest shop globally today (28 April) at London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5.

Customers can buy the latest tablets, digital cameras, headphones, adaptors, portable chargers and cases from leading labels including Apple, Samsung, Sony, Nikon, GoPro, Beats by Dr. Dre, Bose and Fitbit, plus own-label products.

The 3,400sq ft space is the latest in a spree of quick-fire openings for InMotion after opening a store at Terminal 3 in February and a pop-up at Terminal 2 in January having captured contracts last year to operate 30 shops at UK airports following the exit of Dixons Travel.

TRBusiness, which revealed exclusively the InMotion pop-up boutique at T2, joined officials from Heathrow and InMotion for the T5 store’s inauguration and ribbon-cutting [see image gallery at footer].

A bright and engaging LED façade provides an immediate visual cue for passengers travelling through the terminal, which boasts two InMotion stores including the flagship, plus a pop-up island unit. Heathrow is home to a total of eight InMotion stores.

WHSmith has now opened 28 of its 30 planned InMotion stores won under the electronics concession last year.

TECHNOLOGY ‘MADE EASY’

Once inside the shop, visitors are able to peruse the latest digital products and accessories plus an extensive range of travel accessories from bluechip brands such as Apple, Samsung, Sony, Nikon, GoPro, Beats by Dr. Dre, Bose and Fitbit.

These flank a wide-range of InMotion’s own brand products.

An experiential zone includes a listening booth where customers can trial trial noise-cancelling headphones against different ambient noise levels.

InMotion has forged strong partnerships with tech giants Apple, Google and Samsung, the last of which is occupying the prominent, front-of-store pop-up space [see below].

“Headphones and accessories are the heart of our business [in the UK] and take up the bulk of sales – headphones are about half of the entire business,” Ben Carrington, Commercial Director UK (non-food) at WHSmith Travel told TRBusiness.

“Apple and Samsung play a major role in each of those markets. A lot of research in the UK is around the brands themselves, which are really important to customers.

“Prior to InMotion, Dixons Travel in terms of pricing had a ‘better than the High Street’ model, which we don’t have. But clearly we recognise the importance of competitive pricing and what we can’t do is price too highly airside.”

“The VAT (free) model in the airports previously, where if you were travelling outside the EU you got that back on your product purchase, doesn’t exist anymore. Our model is very different (from Dixons Travel), but that is largely due to mix rather than price,” Carrington continued.

“Headphones and accessories are core to what we do, whereas previously Dixons had a huge range of digital SLR cameras. We have a much smaller, core range with the market-leading brands. We are driving a different mix – it’s more about headphones and accessories, one that allows us to ensure we are competitive on all our products.”

Those that enter the shop from the far side, adjacent to its neighbouring WHSmith unit, will encounter a pop-up events space that creates room for product launches and brand competitions, interactive LED screens, and live product demonstrations.

TRBusiness was onsite today (28 April) at Heathrow for a ribbon-cutting that gathered executives from WHSmith Travel and InMotion, as the latter unveiled the largest store across its global airport estate.

The electronics brand is offering tech-savvy consumers the chance to take a selfie on the new Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra mobile handset and personalise the image according to a destination-specific backdrop [TRBusiness opted for a night-time setting, New York], before sharing or downloading the snap as a memory.

At the same time, users are entered into a Samsung competition to grab one of the latest S22 Ultra handsets.

Samsung will occupy the pop-up space for a period of three months, before Sony is due to take over with its own flight-inspired activation spotlighting its noise cancelling headphones.

Alongside a back wallbay highlighting grab-and-go accessories (cases, power, cables) from the InMotion brand, there are dedicated zones for the aforementioned core brands Apple, Samsung and Google.

Meanwhile, a wellbeing zone blends with travel essentials to allow passengers to shop for dental, hair and shaving electronics items (below), alongside go-to skus such as travel pillows and multi-plug adaptors.

InMotion is investing in wellbeing tech

Alongside the likes of electric toothbrushes, electric hair straighteners, electric shavers and hair dryers, customers can select products from free-standing gondolas that spotlight more premium tech such as watches and massagers.

“We wanted to create a store for all; inclusive with a mix of products, interest and interaction,” commented WHSmith’s Group Marketing and Creative Director Phil Ridge, who is responsible for product and store design worldwide. “Experience is the main driver of what we want customers to feel here.”

‘MOST REMARKABLE INMOTION STORE YET’InMotion offers an array of accessories.

Time-strapped customers can seek support from the dedicated InMotion customer service team, who are on hand to assist with product selection and/or specialist knowledge and advice.

After the decision to close Dixons Travel’s branches, more than 200 existing staff were subject to the TUPE process (transfer of undertakings).

There are approximately 95 InMotion personnel serving across Heathrow Airport’s estate, it is understood.

That transfer brought benefits, TRBusiness learns, with InMotion able to leverage on its trademark customer service expertise honed over many years across the US estate.

Accordingly, InMotion employees at Heathrow have been able to draw on skills and knowledge to scale up the customer service experience instore.

TRBusiness hears from staff in the store itself that the feedback from customers has centred around a store that is modern, spacious and airy, with interactive elements such as touchscreens improving consumer engagement.

“This store talks to digital, experience, space and offer; the experiential zone at the front of the store was something that really attracted us in terms of the bid the InMotion team put together and strong brands,” explained Fraser Brown, Retail & Property Director, Heathrow Airport.

Andrew Harrison, Managing Director, WHSmith Travel, stated: “We’re delighted to have opened our largest and most remarkable InMotion store yet at Heathrow Terminal 5, marking the latest milestone in our partnership with the airport that spans over 75 years.

“Technology is an increasingly essential part of our customers’ journeys and, within this new flagship store, we’re making it easy for people to experience the latest tech and get the support and advice they need to help them choose the perfect product for their journey.

“We have received great feedback from passengers travelling through Heathrow and the team looks forward to welcoming more customers to this fantastic new store over the coming months.”

The opening of InMotion at T3 last month, complete with its imposing LED fascia, represented the first full refresh for the airport technology retailer as it forges a partnership with Heathrow following the departure of Dixons Travel.

Brown added: “We’re thrilled to have InMotion’s largest store globally opening at Heathrow, along with a further seven inline stores, two pop-up stores and five digital vending machines in our terminals.

“This new partnership will ensure our passengers have access to the latest technology on offer from one of the world’s leading tech retailers, just as international travel takes off again.”

Stay close to TRBusiness for further comment from Andrew Harrison, Managing Director, WHSmith Travel UK, and Fraser Brown, Retail & Property Director, Heathrow Airport.

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