EUROPE. Airline retail and catering specialist gategroup is to trial its Epax digital retail solution with leading carrier easyJet this Winter. It allows travellers to browse, order and buy from inflight retail ranges, all from their own mobile devices, in what gategroup said is an industry first. The solution was developed with gategroup’s analytics partner, Black Swan Data.

“For the first time anywhere in the world, passengers will be able to access a full onboard retail offering in one location from their own personal device, keeping physical contact with equipment or material onboard to a minimum,” said gategroup. It will offer customers “an intuitive, convenient, and engaging way to access inflight retail services,” the company added.

A digital transformation: Epax allows travellers to control their interaction with the offer through their own devices

Traditionally airlines have offered seat-back screens for inflight content, noted gategroup, while Epax will deliver access to a full onboard retail offering direct to a traveller’s own device. The retail experience will be accessible via connection to an onboard wireless network through the traveller’s own browser.

Epax will also support more relevant choices, using machine learning and data-driven innovation to offer a smarter inflight retail experience, said gategroup. “Customers will be presented with more of what they want, based on factors such as flight destination, flight duration and time of day, as well as insights generated by a wealth of inflight retail data.”

In addition, by removing the need for physical menus and brochures the platform has the potential to remove hundreds of tonnes of paper a year from the cabin, while smarter loading of cabins based on retail data can be anticipated to reduce waste, said gategroup.

Epax will also support more relevant choices, using machine learning and data-driven innovation to offer a smarter inflight retail experience, said gategroup

Federico Germani, Chief Commercial Officer at gategroup, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with easyJet to be working on this innovative industry-first solution and to trial a mobile, end to end retail experience in the cabin. At gategroup we are committed to data-driven innovation across our retail offerings, providing value not only to the end passenger but also helping our airline partners build superior customer experiences.”

Robert Carey, Chief Commercial & Customer Officer at easyJet, added: “We are always looking to enhance our customer’s travel experience. From searching for a flight to making sure they can eat what they want onboard, we are excited to bring this new technology to market as a means to give customers more of what they want and reduce waste across the airline.”

“We continue to innovate with partners like gategroup and Black Swan Data to ensure that when it is possible for us to welcome more customers back onboard, we are matching improved inflight options with our crew who continue to provide a leading standard of safety-focused service and onboard hospitality.”

Black Swan Data CEO Steve King said: “easyJet are real innovators in onboard experience, so it’s exciting to support gategroup in developing its Epax technology and launching this exciting new platform with Black Swan’s analytics and insights. Epax delivers an improved inflight retail experience for passengers and allows airlines to streamline operations and maximise onboard revenues, which is paramount for the industry right now.”