Introduction: Setur Duty Free performs duty free operations across Turkey, including stores in airports, at 90% of Turkeys land border crossings and 70% of the country’s seaports. It offers approximately 40,000 products across a remarkably wide variety of brands in eight different categories. In the latest edition of our regular series on the ambitious travel retailer, the company’s Commercial Director Ömer Korkmaz discusses the company’s wide product offer and its focus on employee development to help maximise customer satisfaction.

As Turkey’s number one duty free brand, Setur Duty Free is aiming to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic period stronger than ever before. In doing so, we are seeking to take advantage of being recognised as a reliable brand by both suppliers and government agencies.

With a confident approach, we continue to work hard to provide best-in-class service to our visitors, partners, employees. The extensive experience gathered from our deep-rooted history and learnings from past crises have helped us to perform well in overcoming the pandemic period. Here at Setur Duty Free, we continue to expand our product range with an optimistic outlook on the future.

Setur Duty Free’s Kapikule store, situated at the largest border crossing into Europe, is seeing an airport-scale demand for liquor and tobacco products

The stagnation observed due to pandemic-induced declining traffic last year is turning into a picture of significant growth in 2021

We now offer products from more than 600 brands to our customers across 46 stores and 20 different locations across Turkey. These products are carried across eight separate categories: tobacco products, spirits, perfumes & cosmetics, fashion & accessories, chocolate & confectionery, local products, toys and electronics.

Since the duty free business line generally operates in four categories across the world –namely spirits, tobacco products, perfumes & cosmetics and chocolate & confectionery – we believe that Setur Duty Free’s wide product range is highly appreciated by our customers.

Commercial Director Ömer Korkmaz reveals some of the work going on behind the scenes as Setur Duty Free aims to maximise customer satisfaction

In addition to providing an exclusive shopping experience to our visitors with experienced sales representatives, we aim to surprise our customers by widening our product assortment when we see opportunities to do so.

Being the sector’s most established brand in Turkey has allowed Setur Duty Free to introduce many novelties into the duty free field. For example, we were the first duty free company in Turkey to offer products from world famous brands such as Apple and Nike in our stores, and we have also recently started to offer home textiles products from the brand English Home.

The stagnation observed due to pandemic-induced declining traffic last year is turning into a picture of significant growth in 2021. Taking the example of Setur Duty Free’s Kapikule store, situated at the largest border crossing into Europe, we are seeing an airport-scale demand for liquor and cigarette category products, as well as other duty free items.

Although there has been no significant change observed in category preferences at seaport stores, we have seen the trend of visitors towards buying products in the luxury segment.

Happy employees = happy customers

Although the customer profile and popular product categories of each Setur Duty Free store varies, we have one common goal across those shops. That is ensuring maximum satisfaction with reliable top-notch service to our customers in every store – we see that as an imperative for the brand.

Therefore, we have recently undertaken various projects which aim to increase productivity, customer satisfaction and employee motivation.

The ‘Warehouse Management System’ project, for example, intended to make supply chain processes faster and to increase operational efficiency. Meanwhile, the ‘Shift Planning System’ project has been executed to ensure that the number of employees in stores is in line with customer traffic on an hourly basis, with the aim of delivering exactly the right levels of service to our customers.

The Ipsala store on the Turkey-Greece border is an example of the extensive brand category offer across Setur Duty Free shops

Through the improvements made in our ‘Smart Incentive System’ – which allows us to create and monitor shifts and individual targets on a daily and monthly basis via mobile phones – an increase in employee motivation was pursued.

In this fast-moving pandemic period with countless developments, at Setur we managed to adapt to changes with our dynamic team while tailoring projects that aimed to contribute to change and create new dynamics.

By focusing on employee experience and delivering our human resources approach around the notion that happy employees make happy customers, Setur was the recipient of the 2020 Best Employers Award within the scope of the Kincentric Turkey Best Employers Program, as a result of our activities in this field.

The factors that played an important role in this award were the practices developed with the aim of reducing the negative impacts of the pandemic; standing by the side of employees throughout this period; enabling interaction with employees in different locations across Turkey with digital tools and applications; supporting the psychological and physical health of employees; and creating benefits and value.

Despite the negative developments in the tourism sector all over the world during the pandemic, at Setur we have protected employment and this award demonstrated the importance of maintaining team spirit even during the challenging times we continue to experience.