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ECONOMICS Last modified on October 25, 2016

Driving profits

Small changes to the customer buying experience can make a big difference to an airport’s e-commerce revenues from parking, writes AeroParker’s Jon Keefe.

Like famous brands such as ASOS, adidas and airbnb, today’s airports are online retailers and should be constantly striving to deliver an excellent user experience for their customers.

The brands above have understood that the easier, slicker and more user-friendly it is to buy online, the more likely it is that customers will convert and come back. It is a simple philosophy and one that airports can learn from. 

So, what do airports have to do better to create an excellent online experience? Well, in my opinion, one of the first things they should do is look beyond competitors at other airports and turn to the vanguards of e-commerce. 

It’s all about being ‘simpler’, ‘slicker’, ‘more secure’ and ‘more rewarding’. That’s what customers are after and that’s what you should strive for. 

Simpler: Making it easy to buy. You will be amazed how difficult it sometimes is to buy things online. It can almost feel like an assault course for you to actually get to the check out. 

Slicker: Making things intuitive. The system should do what customers are expecting it to do or at least allow them to do what has to be done in order to complete the buying process. 

More secure: Mmake your customer feel safe. It’s reallyimportant that a customer feels that their data and transactions are secure because otherwise they will go somewhere else where they feel secure. 

More rewarding: Give customers a reason to come back. Not only will this help you create a loyal customer base with existing customers, but they might also share their experience with other people, who in turn will then be become customers of yours. 

If you can satisfy these four needs – and bear in mind that these are not fixed finishing lines as the goalposts are always moving forward – you will become a successful online retailer.

 

A few tips

Sometimes simple changes make a huge difference. When Google changed the colour of their AdWord blue to a darker shade, for example, people suddenly found it more appealing and revenue shot up by $200 million in one year alone.

 Too much choice is also bad, for although retail is about choice, retailers often make the mistake of offering so much choice that it is impossible to make a decision. We have found the five crucial points to be true:

– Remove distractions from the booking process. Put your customers in a sales funnel, tell them how long it is and on which step they are currently. Your customer is on a journey and it is only fair that you tell them how long it will take. 

– Make sure that the customer is reassured at every point about security and provide shortcuts whenever possible. 

– Don’t waste space. In the old days, one of the golden rules in the advertising industry was that white space sells. In particular on mobiles, it does not. 

– Form design is crucial. Adjust the length of the fields to the expected content, make them respond immediately and arrange them in the way that will make easy for people to read; names horizontally, addresses and payment details vertically. 

– Test and test again. There’s no finish line to the ultimate customer experience, and hence there’s no finish line to testing. If you are not continually testing, you are missing out. 

Leave the wrong impression at any point in a customer’s interactions with you and it can trigger an immediate negative impact, which can be harmful to the business’s reputation and customer base in the long-term.

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