NEW ZEALAND. Auckland Airport today (6 October local time) extended its successful online click-and-collect marketplace The Mall to domestic travellers.

For the first time, passengers flying on domestic routes can access the shopping platform’s range of premium, sought-after and airport exclusive products. These were previously available only to international travellers. Tax and duty are payable on domestic purchases.

The Mall is underpinned by the acclaimed omnichannel marketplace technology from AOE, a renowned digital innovator in the travel retail industry owned by Kian Gould*, which helped develop the platform in an impressively short three-month timeframe.

The Mall is offering free chocolates to its first 130 customers as the new domestic offer swung into action

“A few months back, we surveyed frequent domestic travellers and asked them how we could bring more value to the airport experience and enhance the customer experience. They came back saying, bring me an international-type shopping experience when I’m travelling domestically,” Auckland Airport Head of Omnichannel Jayne Wear told The Moodie Davitt Report during an online interview on Monday, New Zealand time.

“So we’ve curated a range for the domestic traveller,” she added, noting that the offer features a strong emphasis on New Zealand products. That includes an eclectic array of accessories, handbags, luggage, jewellery and local health and beauty lines. Fragances will be added soon. With a mind to the America’s Cup in Auckland next year, a clothing range from Emirates Team New Zealand is also featured.

“It’s also about supporting our retailers,” Wear said. “Many of them have only got retail locations in the international terminal. So when we saw that there was demand from customers who were receptive to the proposition… this gave our retailers a whole new channel to be able to engage with. So it seemed like a win-win.”

Asked if duty paid liquor would be added, a la Changi Airport Group’s IShopChangi or platforms, Wear said, “It’s one of the categories that we know domestic travellers will be very receptive to, so it’s absolutely in our roadmap planning.

“We’re also bringing on some of the luxury retailers. So in the coming weeks, you’ll be seeing Michael Kors and Tumi as part of the experience.”

“In New Zealand, we’ve seen a rebound in domestic travel and we wanted to bring back part of that magic of international travel, which features a shopping experience at the start and end of their journey. So it’s about how do we integrate that into the travel that people can do?” Auckland Airport General Manager Technology and Marketing Jonathan Good added during the interview.

“We’ve designed a great experience so that you’re easily able to place your purchase. And then you can pick it up on your outbound leg or when you arrive back in Auckland. There’s a new collection point, a great new physical space right next to arrivals.”

Jonathan Good: “An opportunity for our retailers to stay connected with their customers while there is limited international travel”

Good commented: “For New Zealanders, shopping, whether it’s purchasing a new perfume or stocking up the liquor cabinet, is strongly associated with the excitement of travel.

“The impact of COVID-19 on Auckland Airport and our retail partners has been significant, but we are moving fast to support new ways for our retailers to do business and connect with their customers.

“We work in close partnership with our terminal retailers, and this investment in The Mall was about providing the digital infrastructure to support their success.

“Even though this was a move into a different market, the response from our retailers has been great. They straight away understood this was an opportunity to stay connected with their customers while there is limited international travel.”

The Mall, launched in 2018, has been a success story for Auckland Airport. The online marketplace boasts a range of over 5,000 products from airport stores, available through click-and-collect. Demand for the service has increased rapidly, with orders growing +55% year-on-year.

“All payment is integrated, so we have integrated with WeChat and Alipay, for example and all the different types of payment, such as Union Pay, Visa, Mastercard,” Wear told The Moodie Davitt Report. “That is all part of the domestic experience and it all moves harmoniously through into our collection point developed by us with AOE for the logistics and fulfillment.”

Easy fulfilment: The shopping platform offers a single pick-up point in the domestic terminal

‘Turbo-charged’ shift to online shopping

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Jayne Wear has focused on reimagining The Mall offer in a new travel environment – one in which full international travel may take some time to recover.

“Before the outbreak of COVID-19, The Mall had been growing strongly and faster than all our projections and the customer feedback scores we were getting suggested it was really resonating with travellers,” she said. “We knew that 80% of airport purchases are planned in advance of travel, so the ability to browse and select online made The Mall appealing to travellers.

Jayne Wear: Harnessing the trend towards online shopping

“There’s no doubt the pandemic has been an extremely challenging time for the airport retail industry but in the wider retail space COVID-related lockdowns have turbo-charged the shift to online shopping. We needed to harness that trend to enhance our airport experience for domestic travellers and benefit our airport retailers.”

The initial launch offer features product ranges across the beauty and fashion categories from Saben, NZH Health & Beauty, Walker & Hall, and Emirates Team New Zealand. In the coming weeks, more retailers will be coming onboard, including luxury brands Michael Kors and Tumi.

“We’ve chosen to launch with a group of our retailers who are not only great local businesses but are experienced with operating on The Mall’s international travel option. We’ll work to quickly scale up the range of products available on the platform over the next couple of weeks,” Wear said.

Good noted that the platform has been fully integrated with the airport’s loyalty programme, Strata Club, so as consumers purchase they can build points.

*Note: AEO Founder & CEO Kian Gould and Auckland Airport Head of Omnichannel Jayne Wear will take part in a key session at the Moodie Davitt Virtual Travel Retail Expo on 16 October. They will be joined by KrisShop CEO Chris Pok. AOE is also a Platinum Partner at the event.