E-FILES: Duty free goes B2C

Business-to-consumer e-commerce will evolve to become more closely integrated with customer management systems, says Steven Williamson, e-business manager of online duty free outlet Airportshoppers.com.

www.airportshoppers.com

Business-to-consumer e-commerce will evolve to become more closely integrated with customer management systems, says Steven Williamson, e-business manager of online duty free outlet Airportshoppers.com.

An online extension to the bricks-and-mortar duty-free outlets at Auckland International Airport, Airportshoppers.com has been trading since August 2000. The concept was developed by Steven Williamson, Auckland International Airport’s (AIAL) e-business manager.

“Think of Airportshoppers.com as a virtual mall,” says Williamson, where you can purchase international brands, including cosmetics, cameras, wine and liquor, as well as toys, lingerie and New Zealand crafts.

Airportshoppers.com is powered by CREM2000 from Auckland-based internet integrator 3-Tier.com, which engineered and built the site. AIAL staff administer the site using the CREM2000 Site Manager. The technology also provides customer relationship management (CRM), which Williamson says is key to the successful business management of the site.

The technology tracks customer membership, their click-through behaviour on the site and their transactions. This, combined with the loyalty programmes run by individual retail outlets, allows management to execute targeted promotion campaigns to get customers coming back to the site, and build long-term relationships. AIAL also runs marketing programmes with travel agents to compliment the direct marketing campaigns.

Williamson says the organisation is already starting to conduct one-to-one marketing with each passenger passing through the international terminal, with the support of web technology.

“The internet is a very important channel for one-to-one marketing, to identify highly profitable customers and reward them,” says Williamson. “Loyalty cards such as FlyBuys will benefit most from closer internet integration.”

Williamson says New Zealanders are still reluctant to exchange sensitive credit card data online, despite secure encrypted transactions. To overcome this reluctance, Airportshoppers.com provides a call-back service, whereby a customer can browse and order online, then click the callback button. A call centre agent then complete the transaction.

Most of the customers of Airportshoppers.com are New Zealand travellers, says Williamson, though there is a significant customer base from America, Australia and Asia. Management sees the competition as being any international airport in the region that offers duty-free retail services to travellers.

3-Tier.com was selected after a standard Request For Proposal (RFP) process. 3-Tier chief executive Tim Muhundan says the key challenge in building the site was producing a system that delivers a seamless ordering process to customers from 60 different retailers and their divergent back-end systems.

“To achieve this we designed an XML-based segmented basket that is able to cope with creating multiple order processing pipelines, so the same shopping basket can split one customer order into multiple supplier orders and process the payment to individual retailers,” says Muhundan.

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