It has been a year since KrisShop’s grandly unveiled transformation of KrisShop.com, their revamped site aimed to further strengthen their evolution from inflight retailer to fully-fledged omnichannel platform.
But where other travel retailers have reeled in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, KrisShop has repeatedly pivoted to take best advantage of fast-changing circumstances, in the process underscoring the value of its omnichannel proposition.
Over the last year, KrisShop (a joint venture between Singapore Airlines, 3Sixty Duty Free & More, and SATS, with support from the AOE digital platform) has more than doubled its range of homegrown and global brands and now offers over ten different categories across an impressive ecommerce platform. Throughout Singapore’s sustained ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown, the joint venture company has embraced a dynamic social engagement programme, particularly for grounded Singaporeans looking for much-needed retail therapy.
From the neatly-timed ‘New Norms’ range to the forward-thinking ‘KrisShop Green’ concept store, KrisShop has underscored the value of a robust, nimble digital strategy and omnichannel presence amid the most turbulent trading period in travel retail history.
In this compelling interview, KrisShop Chief Executive Officer Chris Pok talks about turning crisis into opportunity, the future of travel retail, and what industry partners can expect to see at the company’s #Virtual Stand (OC-P3) at the inaugural Moodie Davitt Virtual Travel Retail Expo in October.
The Moodie Davitt Report: How far along is KrisShop on the journey from inflight retailer to fully fledged omnichannel platform? And what lies next on the journey?
Chris Pok: Transforming from an inflight duty free shop to a fully-fledged omnichannel retailer has not been an easy undertaking, but I’m proud to say that we have made significant strides since last year’s unveiling of our revamped ecommerce site, KrisShop.com.
Our efforts enabled shoppers to have a better experience of buying without flying. This includes an enhanced user experience on the site, and reduced delivery lead time in the fulfilment process. When travel returns, passengers will also find that the lead time for pre-orders to flights have been notably reduced, allowing passengers to enjoy duty free offerings at greater convenience.
Over the year, we have more than doubled our collection of thoughtfully curated homegrown and global brands, to boast an extensive collection of lifestyle items across ten product categories. To navigate the challenges posed by the global pandemic, we have also strengthened our digital engagement efforts, to meet consumers where they are for both the short and long term.
The journey ahead will also mean strengthening our omnichannel presence, enhancing our site experience and curating a more targeted mix of products to better connect with customers.
In the last few months, KrisShop has pivoted fast and adapted its marketing initiatives and product offer to reach consumers at home, for example with the ‘New Norms Essentials’ range and the ‘KrisShop Live Instagram Series’. In short, you’ve turned crisis into opportunity. What’s been the consumer reaction?
The pandemic has undoubtedly heralded a shift in shopper behaviour across the global retail market. From trying new brands and picking up hobbies to paying more attention to health and hygiene, nesting at home has redefined the way people shop. This has shown itself to be an eclectic mix of practicality and passion.
“Even when things do start to turn for the better, there is a good chance that consumption habits will continue to be dualistic, with formerly non-digital natives choosing to shop online”
Taking cues from these changes, it was an instinctive move for us to tailor offerings to cater to the needs and wants of consumers. We did this through a curated concept store called KrisShop@Home, a seasonal new norm series which offered daily essentials, as well as a series of Instagram Live content to entertain and educate our consumers at home.
The response to these efforts has been highly positive, and we attribute this to our active demonstration of social awareness and consciously delivery of products and initiatives that are helpful to people in these difficult times.
Any lessons from the crisis?
A key lesson is the importance of having a digital strategy and a robust omnichannel presence. The pandemic has effectively pushed consumers toward embracing digital transformation, from grocery shopping to exercising and even participating in religious services.
With a fully-functioning ecommerce platform that supports engagement independent of a physical space, we’ve been able to show customers that they can still enjoy all the things they love about KrisShop without actually travelling. This ability to diversify is more crucial than ever, as even when things do start to turn for the better, there is a good chance that consumption habits will continue to be dualistic, with formerly non-digital natives choosing to shop online.
Another learning we’ve had is on the importance of developing a consumer-led strategy, which means regularly reviewing our practices to ensure that they effectively cater to evolving consumer behaviour and preferences. Keeping our finger on the shopper pulse has enabled us to engage consumers with the right products, at the right time.
What is your message to brand owners about the KrisShop opportunity, and what support are you seeking from them to deliver on this?
A key message that we stand by is the importance of cultivating collaborative relationships. We see an increasing need to tap into the tools and talents of our partners, and we are also willing to do the same for them.
At KrisShop, we recognise that many of the smaller boutique brand owners today are doing everything they can to keep their business afloat. We take pride in extending support to them through our supply chain and marketing reach, ensuring that they can continue to tap into our customer base and sell their products.
How do you see the category mix evolving during and post the COVID-19 era? How much has the crisis affected consumer shopping behaviour?
In the long-term, daily essentials will be bought in bigger baskets. We’ve witnessed this increase in uptake, with home and living items taking the lion’s share of purchases as people stayed home during the circuit breaker. Even now, we continue to see a steady demand for items like antibacterial face masks and health supplements, beauty devices for those investing in self-care, ergonomic armchairs for those working from home, as well as kitchen aids for the growing pool of home chefs.
Another trend that was gaining traction even before the pandemic — and has experienced a surge in recent months — is the rise of aspirational shoppers. We’re seeing more consumers give attention to brands that communicate some form of social, cultural or environmental awareness. This is perhaps due to the state of volatility that the world is in, which strengthens people’s affinities for brands who are trying to make a positive difference. These don’t need to be big, global brands. They could very well be small, individual labels who simply have an inspiring ethos.
KrisShop launched its first-ever sustainable concept store, KrisShop Green, during World Environment Day. Do you have other curated concept stores in the pipeline?
Our concept stores series is an evolving effort where we currently have five mainstays – With Love, SG, KrisShop Cares, KrisShop Discovers, KrisShop Moments and KrisShop Green – that serve as evergreen curated collections.
Beyond this, we continue to build seasonal stores in line with our beliefs and specific consumer trends, such as KrisShop@Home for the stay-home season. In the months ahead, we will be working with brands to launch an iconic batik concept store as a nod to the heritage of Singapore Airlines, where we’ll see a marriage of tradition and style brought to life in merchandise.
Some describe COVID-19 as creating a ‘forced trial’ of ecommerce. Certainly, it has accelerated the trend towards online shopping. How would you sum up the impact on retail generally, and KrisShop specifically, of recent months?
Naturally, the pandemic has had a profound impact on the travel retail industry. Our inflight retail offering hasn’t been operational for some months now, given the implementation of travel bans and safety efforts to minimise all forms of physical contact. Our strategy has been to rearrange the scales of our diversification model to put more weight behind our ecommerce platform.
With consumers staying home over the past few months, this has been an opportunity to emphasise our ecommerce offering. We also wanted to reinforce to our consumers that they can buy via KrisShop.com without flying, and have their purchases delivered to their doorstep. However, this hasn’t stopped us from planning for when travel eventually begins its recovery. We are already in discussion with Singapore Airlines about enhancement options for our inflight retail experience for when the travel demand returns.
KrisShop will be exhibiting at the Moodie Davitt Virtual Travel Retail Expo in October. What can visitors expect to see?
At the Expo, visitors can look forward to exploring our series of concept stores and taking a sneak peek at our upcoming Batik concept store. They’ll also be the first to learn about new initiatives that we have in place for PPS Club members.
How does the future look for KrisShop – through COVID-19 and beyond?
We will continue to build our future on the back of a holistic omnichannel presence and leverage it to deliver experiences that speak to the seasons.
“In the long term, retailers will also not just need to retain loyal shoppers, but also start thinking about converting non-travellers and to a lesser extent, non-shopper travellers embarking on essential travel. The latter two groups are particularly important.”
We know that people love ecommerce because of the variety of choice and convenience that it offers. More than ever, we’re seeing an increase in the demand for instant gratification, where we’re seeing consumers become more conscious of quality and speed. This could be due to the fact that during lockdown, people had little to look forward to apart from treats in delivery packages. This was our signal to look into cutting down on delivery lead times to better service our customers, which also led to revving up on IT and process enhancement efforts.
This includes adding a Live Chat function on our site for a more interactive and assistive user journey. With our priority being the safety of our staff and consumers, we’re also actively reviewing safer ways to engage with customers, such as encouraging pre-orders to flights.
With these as examples, our future will continue to be established on careful consideration of what our consumers desire, and how we can best and safely can meet them.
How do you see the future of the travel industry – and the travel retail sector?
It’s not a stretch to say that most businesses in this sector are in survival mode. To maximise returns in the immediate future, those in the sector will need to review their digital strategy and double up on efforts to offer a robust omnichannel presence in order to capture a closing window of existing shoppers.
In the long term, retailers will also not just need to retain loyal shoppers, but also start thinking about converting non-travellers and to a lesser extent, non-shopper travellers embarking on essential travel. The latter two groups are particularly important.
An international survey recently revealed that a good 40% of people will not travel within the first six months post-lockdown, and that 60% of customers who do travel will not engage with retailers. It will also be vital for retailers to adopt an active approach to reviewing their product assortment to get an edge over competitors, bearing in mind that consumer behaviour will shift yet again when travel eventually comes back.
[Click on the YouTube icon to view the relaunch of KrisShop last year]
KrisShop goes Platinum at Moodie Davitt Virtual Travel Retail Expo
Omnichannel retailer KrisShop is a Platinum Partner of the Moodie Davitt Virtual Travel Retail Expo.
The unique 5-day ‘live’ event, followed by a 30-day showcase, begins on 12 October, just after the conclusion of the Chinese Golden Week holidays. It features a star-studded series of events across the five days, including a Symposium, category workshops and a new consumer research initiative.
Registration is free for buyers, exhibitors and preferred media partners (Click here to register).