Retail in Asia

In Shops

Mumbai airport flies e-commerce to clock duty-free sales


Mumbai International Airport (MIAL) is in the process of designing a new website and enhancing its mobile app, which will enable passengers (and even city residents) to purchase confectionery, perfumes and liquor from the airport’s 150 retail and duty-free stores.

Duty-free purchase of goods will be restricted only to international travellers. However, online shoppers will be able to purchase products from retail stores at the domestic terminals and have them delivered to their doorstep.

We are taking a multi-pronged approach to make airport retail and duty-free attractive for flyers with a loyalty card and an e-commerce platform,” MIAL’s Chief Commercial Officer Sanjay Khanna said.

The move will help bolster the airport’s non-aeronautical revenues, which now account for about 55 per cent of its total revenue.

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Globally, retail is facing headwinds from e-commerce platforms and airport retail is no exception.

The challenge before airport operators is how to keep flyers engaged and increase their ‘dwell time’. Airports around the world are pushing retail strategies in various ways – via events, e-commerce or by setting up display stores.

Mumbai will join Singapore’s Changi airport, which launched its mobile app for duty-free purchase three years ago. “The app has been well received and provides airport retailers a new sales channel,” said Teo Chew Hoon, senior vice-president of Changi airport.

Hong Kong airport offers free home delivery of goods purchased at airport retail stores, while London’s Heathrow has hired personal assistants and stylists, who assist flyers while shopping at the airport’s retail stores.

Airports need to embrace new mediums like e-commerce. Typically, airports were late adapters to digital media and e-commerce but we now see the trend changing.