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“Travel retail is the new growth frontier”

By N Jayalakshmi | March 11, 2024

With travel retail poised for big growth in India, Mumbai Duty Free is wasting no time in ensuring it offers an elevated and unique experience to its travelling customers. Avishek Bambi Das, CEO - Mumbai Duty Free, talks more about it in this exclusive interaction with Retail4Growth. 

From live DJs and spirit tasting sessions to anamorphic screens and curated showcase of Indian craftsmanship, Mumbai Duty Free - the retail entity at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai - is leaving no stone unturned as it goes about raising the bar in retail experience.   

Avishek Bambi Das

In an exclusive interaction with Retail4Growth, Avishek Bambi Das, CEO - Mumbai Duty Free, talks about the huge potential in travel retail, while sharing his vision for the company. 

“Our growth is driven by the differentiated experience we offer to our customers. It is about disrupting the industry through the right kind of ambience and customer service – offerings that are first in class in the entire Asia Pacific region,” shares Avishek with obvious pride.  

Travel Retail  - The new growth frontier 

The initiatives by Mumbai Duty Free are also a reflection of the huge growth in travel retail. According to a Mordor Intelligence industry report, the India Travel Retail Market size is estimated at USD 2.03 billion in 2024 and is expected to reach USD 5.40 billion by 2029, growing at a CAGR of 21.59% during the forecast period (2024-2029). The report says the Indian travel retail sector is growing rapidly due to increased domestic and international travelers. 

Travel retail look

Avishek refers to the projected numbers to reiterate his point, “These numbers are unthinkable in any other retail. Remember, there was a time during 2007-2008 when Modern Retail was the buzz word? Today it is Travel Retail. This is the new frontier of growth. There are many reasons for this. Disposable incomes are increasing and young Indians are travelling more. Travelling has really democratized in India and travel retail is going to see explosive growth.” 

Raising the bar with differentiation 

For brands, being in the retail space, especially a space like the Mumbai Duty Free, obviously offers strategic advantages. As Avishek says, “I don’t think there is any other channel that will give you 15 million of Mumbai’s top-end customer segment going through its gates.” 

Kylie cosmetics showcase at travel retail

Given the demographics, many factors go into defining the ambience and aesthetics in the space and central to all of them is differentiation. As Avishek explains, “You have to do things differently, otherwise how are you different from the next airport that the customer is going to land at or take off from? It is differentiation that has led to significant higher digit growth for us, we are seeing numbers that we never thought was possible.  So clearly passengers are resonating with all that we are doing.“ 

Technology & engagement as key pillars 

Elaborating further on Mumbai Duty Free’s approach to offering a differentiated experience, Avishek explains, “There are some key pillars that support the customer experience vision we have. One is the way we use technology - whether in terms of enabling customer access to products or in terms of exciting and entertaining them through engaging displays and the use of 3D technologies. The other pillar is creating what we call ‘speed breakers’ that draw passengers into our space. For example, we are the only airport retail space that has live DJs. We also offer tasting sessions for some of the finest spirits in the world. These are all cleverly designed to nudge the customers towards product experience and purchase. The final factor is of course the product itself.  We have introduced products that are not available in a majority of airports in the world.” 

Strategic choice of partnerships 

Speaking about the choice of products and brands that the company partners with, Avishek adds, “We are the first in the Asia Pacific region to introduce some of the most premium brands, thanks to our brand partnerships. We are also an extremely India proud organization. So while we do have many international brands, we also believe that it is our moral duty to showcase Indian products and craftsmanship. We thus ensure that we give our artists and artisans a platform, so that people leaving India can take a slice of the country with them.” 

Travel retail

Finally, summing up the new plans in the pipeline at Mumbai Duty Free, Avishek says with infectious enthusiasm, “These are very exciting times; we are doing some world class stuff that is going to stun travelers. We are not going to rest till we have truly disrupted this industry.” The message is clear indeed: Keep watching this space!

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