Among the more annoying recent trends at airports (apart from ‘going bust before even opening‘) is redesigning the passage from security to the departure lounge so that passengers are forced to walk through the entire duty free shop. Schönefeld and Gatwick, I’m looking at you.
But it’s clearly worth it to managers to make the average journey to the gate several minutes longer because when it comes to airports making money, retail is king. Take, for example, Heathrow’s ‘glorified shopping centre‘ Terminal 5, opened in 2008. On the plus side, it does tend to promote a willingness to experiment in the pursuit of encouraging fliers to shop while they wait.
And so curated men’s fashion portal Outfittery has opened a concept store at Hamburg Airport, Germany’s fifth busiest, giving passengers – particularly businessmen – a free ten-minute express styling, in a bid to cash in on the lucrative travel market.
The move marks a further step into the real world from the Berlin-based company, which began as an online-only platform but which also launched a magazine in March.
But the new store is not, strictly speaking, actually a shop – designed as a ‘high quality styling lounge’, you can’t buy anything there. Rather, men can use a few spare minutes to put together an outfit or two with some expert help, which can then be ordered and delivered at a later date.
“Many travelers while away waiting time at the airport with shopping – we want to extend this offer by offering free styling advice and supplying the complete outfits directly to the desired address,” said Anna Alex, CEO of Outfittery. “It means no annoying bags have to be taken on the trip and on the plane. Bad spur-of-the-moment purchases can also be avoided. Business travelers in particular are often under a lot of stress and do not have much time. We help there with a simpler and much more pleasant shopping experience.”
That pleasant experience is key to what is, essentially, a showroom, rather than a store with a focus on sales. To that end, there are extra incentives such as a free shoe shine or beer, with the hope that such high-value potential customers will become regular customers after they go home.
You can find the store in the security area by gate 18 in Terminal 2, and it is open from 7am-9pm. Nils Witt, department head of Hamburg Airport’s leasing centre management, said he was excited about the idea, promising that “Outfittery will enrich the offer at Hamburg Airport and bring a breath of fresh air.”
It will be an interesting experiment – only one sure way to ruin the effect would be to force people to walk through the store…