Inflight wi-fi creates retail boom in the skies

It’s hard to find a more captive audience than airline passengers
Now that wi-fi access to the internet is increasingly available on planes, passengers are finding themselves inundated by shopping and other ads. It is hard to find a more captive audience than airline passengers.
Virtual flight catalogues and other innovations are improving retail opportunities in the sky, resulting in an estimated 13% year-on-year growth in on board retail in the US.
Some passengers miss the old printed catalogues and resent the creeping influx of retail pitches while in flight. But airlines say they are only giving people what they want – a chance to shop.
“They’re looking for other things to entertain themselves,” claims Jamie Perry, vice president for brand and product development at JetBlue Airways.
When JetBlue went wireless just over two years ago, it initially thought travellers would mostly be logging onto social networks. “It was a little bit of a surprise to us, early on, how much time people spent shopping,” Perry says.
Faster tech and wi-fi is resulting in innovations including virtual catalogues, promotions and a range of additional goods and services. Far better connectivity means airlines can have a lot more data sent up to the plane.
Airlines in Europe are recognising the trend too. Last November, airline catering company LSG Sky Chefs, a division of Lufthansa Group, bought one of its partners, Irish tech firm Retail inMotion, so it can expand deeper into what it calls the “increasingly important onboard retail business.” LSG intends to sell everything from merchandise to tickets for events and attractions at the destination.
The New York Times


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