Istanbul Airport operator İGA Havalimani İşletmesi (İGA) is to develop its own e-commerce platform in response to the increasing demand for technology in the post Coronavirus (Covid-19) era.
Speaking exclusively to TRBusiness in the first of a two-part interview, Kadri Samsunlu, CEO, İGA, said the aim of the new platform was to provide faster, easier and more reliable shopping.
“After Covid-19, digitisation will be used more effectively in world trade. Many companies around the world are selling new opportunities in the field of e-commerce,” he said.
The new İGA e-commerce platform will feature latest technologies including augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI). Samsunlu explained: “We will be able to publish and sell all duty free products and services to passengers through this platform before they arrive at the airport.
“This will enable us to ensure passengers spend their time in more pleasant locations such as food and beverage, technological experience areas and lounges instead of having to shop.”
DIGITAL JOURNEY EXPERIENCE
As part of the digital journey experience, which will soon be added to the Istanbul Airport application, İGA aims to eliminate stress experienced by passengers when catching a flight and shopping. This will be achieved by creating an environment, where passengers can plan their airport visit.
“The marketplace platform with the latest technologies will enable us to easily deliver the right products and services. It will also allow us to increase the sales volume at our airport by promoting products and services in the commercial areas,” Samsunlu remarked.
A campaign module will be incorporated within the marketplace platform, enabling commercial areas to create campaigns individually and interactively. “Through an AR-supported platform, passengers will see the campaigns and special product information in stores on their screens.
“They will be able to do so using the camera on their phones and indoor navigation services.”
Under this AR-supported campaign system, an AI-supported recommendation engine and a recommendation technology will be used. The recommendation technology will be specific to the aviation industry and Istanbul Airport in particular.
The system will produce individual or passenger-specific suggestions based on commercial campaigns and passenger habits. These will be published via the marketplace, AR, Istanbul Airport application and digital screens.
In addition, passengers can earn and spend loyalty points using an e-wallet, by spending money at the airport through IGA’s loyalty system.
Samsunlu said: “We also plan to develop a contactless payment option using e-wallets, along with a function enabling products to be delivered to dedicated points such as gates, lounges or where passengers are waiting upon their request.”
With domestic and international flights resuming at the beginning of June, Samsunlu is hoping for a gradual increase in spend-per-passenger. Implementing the aforementioned e-commerce platform as quickly as possible and increasing market share in online environments should certainly help achieve this.
ALTERNATIVE PAYMENT METHODS
İGA is also planning to drive spend-per-passenger through new collaborations achieved by developing alternative payment methods.
“We continue to diversify contactless/touchless payment systems by integrating WeChat, Alipay and UnionPay. Passenger shopping is more planned, according to studies undertaken worldwide. In other words, passengers target the products they want before arriving at the airport.”
Istanbul Airport has one of the largest retail spaces in the world, with 104 sub-branded stores and 33 duty free shops across an area of 45,951sq m. Total commercial space (excluding reserved areas) amounts to 47,351sq m. Unifree Duty Free secured the 25-year retail management contract at Istanbul Airport back in 2015.
“The goal is to introduce our products and diversity to customers. Through planned collaborations, we aim to turn our Asian passengers into higher spending customer groups which plan their purchases.”
As the aviation industry continues its recovery from the deadly Covid-19 pandemic, İGA is striving to develop more retail options for customers. Istanbul Airport retailers are also implementing a duty free action plan, according to Samsunlu.
This includes design revisions to update store concepts and increase shopping in line with trends. Strategies are also being developed to turn more travellers into buyers by increasing store visibility and accessibility.
Samsunlu commented: “Marketing and communication plans are being worked on to improve the shopping environment. Periodic turnover fluctuation analysis, turnover performance monitoring and trend analysis of all sub-operators is being undertaken.
“We are emphasising technology as a gateway to retail revenue, by providing our own e-commerce platform in the future and offering free Wi-Fi and preferential treatment for IGA-Pass members.”
He concluded: “Amid growing passenger numbers due to Istanbul Airport’s high capacity, retailers have an unparalleled growth perspective here. Constantly bringing more passengers and offering them several retail options will make retail at Istanbul Airport a huge success story.”
The second part of our exclusive interview with Kadri Samsunlu, CEO, İGA will appear in due course.