APEX Insight: SkyBuys’ online to offline app is using patent-pending wish list and geo-fencing technology to provide travelers with contextual information on the best duty-free deals throughout their journey in an attempt to transform the travel retail market.
In March of this year, SkyBuys completed an intense six-month accelerator program with Airbus BizLab and announced the start of a live trial with Heinemann Australia. The official launch with Heinemann is scheduled for Q3 2018 and the company is now in discussion with other concessionaires.
SkyBuys aims to bring together all potential duty-free purchase options based on a passenger’s unique flight path and itinerary. “We are accessing inventory feeds and inputting them into our application so that the passenger can see what’s available throughout their journey, compare offers, check out prices and pick-up/delivery options and ultimately have a better experience when they travel,” SkyBuys founder Alec Kemmery told APEX Media.
If users have already saved specific items to their wish list, when they pass through the airport the app will pick up on their location and send an offline notification letting them know if their saved products are available and how to purchase them.
Kemmery says the SkyBuys model offers airlines the opportunity to “share revenue” with concessionaires if they are willing to push their offers onboard. “To date there are many examples of international airlines removing onboard duty free,” he states. “There are different reasons for this, but the one constant is that despite the fact airlines are dropping passengers into shopping environments, when passengers purchase from airport retailers the airlines are not recognized in the sale. With SkyBuys, they can be.”
“When passengers purchase from airport retailers the airlines are not recognized in the sale. With SkyBuys, they can be.” – Alec Kemmery, SkyBuys
Moving forward, Kemmery wants to formalize this aspect of his business: “Ideally, SkyBuys would like to be able to have a single Master Services Agreement that is industry-wide and transparent and indicates terms and conditions – including fees – that are common across all partnerships.”
The reason this model hasn’t been seen yet, according to Kemmery, is because airlines have been tied to lengthy catering contracts. However, he adds, “If an airline still has an onboard concessionaire agreement, we are able to help influence in-flight sales as well.”
SkyBuys can offer certain passengers discounts, be it at a concessionaire level, airline level or a partner level. “It could be that when you’ve booked your hotel with an Online Travel Agent that you get 10% off your next purchase with SkyBuys. We can communicate an offer linked specifically to a particular product or location,” Kemmery explains.
SkyBuys was envisioned as a standalone app, but there is the option to plug it into HTML or existing apps so that legacy airlines, for example, can maintain their own branding and marketing messages.
Indeed, marketing is SkyBuys’ next big challenge. Kemmery says, “We will either partner with influencers, whether an airline or an online travel agent, or promote SkyBuys through our own marketing and advertising.”
SkyBuys is also focusing on international expansion. Kemmery says the European market is especially interesting because it’s home to many global luxury brands: “Couple that with the increase in international travel coming from mainland China – it’s a huge travel retail market and it’s previously been untapped because of a lack of smartphone and retail technology.”