The future of in-flight shopping is digital. And it will consume passengers’ attention throughout a flight. This is the hope of marketers everywhere and the underlying concept driving the launch of SKYdeals, the new in-flight “shoppertainment” platform now flying on Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines.
With the creative and exciting product range of SKYdeals, coupled with the free access to the Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines FlyNet portal, we are taking the in-flight experience to a new level. We are delighted to be able to offer our customers the opportunity to shop above the clouds again.– Erik Mosch, Vice President Product Management Ancillary Services Lufthansa Group
SKYdeals takes advantage of the FlyNet inflight wifi network to deliver the shopping experience for passengers. Lufthansa Group airlines suspended traditional in-cabin sales so the digital version bring back the potential for some ancillary revenue during a flight. And orders are fulfilled via postal services on the ground, allowing for a virtually unlimited product catalog and other benefits for the airline. But SKYdeals is about much more than just an infinite product catalog. The company wants to drive passenger behavior and experiment with deal targeting in ways that were heretofore only talked about at trade shows as eventual possibilities.
Looking for a custom set of retail offerings on a particular route? SKYdeals promises to deliver that. Or time-targeted sales while on board? SKYdeals incorporates that functionality, too, in a program it calls QUICK SALES.
The company even talks up the idea of geolocated offerings. The FLY OVER option delivers “exclusive discounts on local products such as Swiss chocolate and pocket knives on flights over Switzerland or fan articles of German football clubs over Germany.”
Part of this is about knowing the customer better, well enough to target the correct product at the correct time to complete the transaction. SKYdeals does not appear to be quite that evolved. Yet. But getting users into the inflight connectivity portal and using the service could also boost usage of the wifi service overall. That the airlines will offer purchasers a free data session after the transaction completes certainly helps push people in that direction. And while the profit margin on the sale might not cover the retail cost of an additional user session, the aggregate value to the airline of getting passengers more used to using the inflight wifi service is clear.
Less clear, unfortunately, is just how effective the SKYdeals portal will be in keeping passengers’ attention throughout a flight. To paraphrase the common philosophical debate, “If a targeted sale happens in the portal but there are no customers looking, does it even matter?” SKYdeals and similar platforms must negotiate a tricky path of grabbing and keeping consumers engaged with the portal so they can push additional deals, while not overwhelming with alerts or interruptions. Popping up an offer while someone is reading a news story or when they return to the menu might be better received than during a movie, for example.
And if the user makes a purchase and then disappears into the regular web browsing world, are they lost for good? Or will the portal try to bring them back for an incremental sale?
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