China Eastern to feature ‘online mall’ and ‘duty free showcase’ on new B777-300ER | September 23, 2014

China Eastern_onboard retail 777_680x305

By Kai-Chin Shih, >talkairlines

As ancillary revenues have become a major revenue source for airlines – if not the lifeline for many – airlines are thinking of more ways to derive revenue from all phases of the customer journey. For example, airlines are looking to harness the power of retailing through their in-seat IFEC systems, be it that things are still in a very early stage.

For example, very few airlines today allow passengers to order duty free onboard via the inseat or wireless IFE system. Virgin America and Japan Airlines are among the exceptions, while passengers on Lufthansa’s A321s can now order duty free items inflight via the wireless IFE portal for delivery to their address of choice.

China Eastern
Meanwhile, Shanghai-based China Eastern – China’s second-largest carrier by passenger numbers – is stepping up its efforts to become a global player. The Skyteam-member has just launched a new brand image and livery and will receive its first B777-300 (77W) this month which will be the airline’s new flagship aircraft. For a full report on China Eastern’s new B777-300 see this article on >talkairlines.

Yet, the innovative bits of China Eastern’s new B77W are not the seats (video of the cabin interior here). The airline has come up with some interesting interesting concepts in an effort to increase inflight duty free sales.

In-flight mall
Realizing that the existing print duty free catalogues can no longer satisfy traveller’s purchasing needs, China Eastern decided to create a more diverse, abundant and straightforward shopping system, dubbed the new in-flight mall.

As China Eastern will offer Wi-Fi on its new B77W, the airline collaborated with credit card company China UnionPay and Chinese third-party payment processor Yeepay to come up with an ‘Air-Ground Wireless Transaction Platform’ which allows for real-time processing of onboard payments and solves the transaction risks associated with in-flight duty free.

The payment platform will be the basis of a socalled ‘In-flight Mall’, that allows passengers to order meals, pay for upgrades onboard, purchase duty free items, and even rent everyday necessities. The new platform can be accessed through personal seatback screens, passenger’s personal devices or tablets that are provided by the crew.

Duty free showcase
In another example (see our recent article on China Airlines’ Sky Lounge) of how the galley in the premium cabin can be turned into a social area, China Eastern will also make food and drinks available at the ‘Afternoon Tea Time’ bar located in the Business Class galley outsides regular meal service. Passengers can help themselves to pastries and drinks, including cocktails made by the cabin crew. Cabin crew were also sent to cafes in Taiwan for barista training.

The galley area also features a new duty-free showcase at the side wall, which will display a selection of the duty free items available for purchase onboard. China Eastern says it hopes to attract flyers to purchase items after window-shopping while enjoying snacks from the bar.