Finnair turns its inflight wi-fi portal into an e-commerce platform

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By Marisa Garcia

Last year, Finnair committed to a fleet-wide investment in inflight connectivity, valued at USD33 million. The service was first made available on the airline’s new A350 aircraft (of which it currently has five in service), and further installations will continue through 2018 on both Finnair’s long- and short-haul fleets.

While some airlines still ponder the business case in favour of giving customers the wi-fi connectivity they want onboard, Finnair provides passengers in Business Class with free inflight wi-fi and has put its new ‘Nordic Sky’ inflight portal to work as a channel to offer new services to flyers, as well as boost ancillary sales.

The portal can be accessed on passengers’ own devices and gives all passengers free access to finnair.com, plus Finnair services such as destination information, customer care and pre-order duty free shopping— with items purchased being delivered to the passenger’s seat on their return flight.

Reviving duty free sales
This onboard retail strategy is a departure from the tired trolley product push which has been part of the in-flight experience for decades. Technology allows Finnair to promote shopping opportunities while letting passengers enjoy the journey and letting cabin crew focus on more critical functions of passenger service and cabin safety.

“That’s why we’re using technology, the IFE, the portals we have. So that, if you want to shop, we enable that through the technological platforms we have onboard,” Finnair’s chief commercial officer Juha Järvinen told APEX last year. “We shall not increase the number of trolleys going back and forth in a corridor. That’s what you don’t want. The IFE technology and the wi-fi platforms enable you to do your shopping when you want, at your discretion.”

Nordic Experience
Finnair has positioned itself as a bridge between Europe and Asia. It has found destination marketing is critical to brand differentiation, including the onboard and digital retail experience. There is no word in Chinese for Finnair, Järvinen explained to Skift. What attracts this consumer is the Nordic experience that Finnair offers.

The airline has incorporated this destination asset into its wi-fi portal through partnerships with local Finnish designers and retailers. Finnair has added dedicated branded shops on the wifi portal, including clothing lines Makia Clothing, Ivana Helsinki and local shoe designer Minna Parikka, and ofcourse its long-standing collaboration with Marimekko.

Pre-order taxis, destination tickets, and possibly groceries
And the airline is also working to turn the inflight portal into a helpful platform that helps passengers plan their experience on the ground in advance.

Passengers can already use the inflight portal to order taxis via the Cabforce Taxi Service on their destination airport and book destination services such as trips, dinner cruises and concert tickets with Viator Destination Services.

Last year, Finnair’s (former) commercial director for E-commerce, Jouni Oksanen told Hangar.no that the airline is also considering to let passengers pre-order their groceries inflight, saying that “We are working to offer our passengers to shop for groceries via the system during the flight, then pick up the bags of food from the store which is open 24 hours a day at Helsinki airport. We are also working to offer everything from buying clothes, duty, and even a car if there would be a need. We see many opportunities that will come in the years ahead now.”

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