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Omnevo and Airfree partnership radically expands the inflight revenue opportunity

October 19, 2021

WIESBADEN, GERMANY, 19 OCTOBER 2021 – Omnevo, leading provider of digital ancillary revenue models and part of the AOE group, announces a partnership with inflight digitalization specialists airfree that takes the omnichannel experience into a crucial new channel by actually reaching the customer in the comfort of their seat - expanding the inflight retail experience and opening up powerful new revenue opportunities for all airlines. 

Engaging the passenger in the aircraft cabin has long been the most coveted yet under-exploited revenue opportunity in Travel Retail; now Omnevo has partnered with airfree in enabling the Omnevo omnichannel platform to achieve that even in a low-connectivity on-board environment, greatly expanding the airline revenue opportunity. The first rollout of the new joint platform was launched on Singapore Airlines (SIA) in collaboration with KrisShop, SIA’s flagship retailer, in June 2021 and is being expanded across the airline’s Thales-enabled Airbus A350 fleet.

A new level of inflight offer

Omnevo’s in-flight expansion of its single-platform strategy through airfree’s onboard expertise now provides an inter-connected, uninterrupted customer experience across the whole passenger journey, enabling KrisShop to host what is believed to be the largest inflight retail offering ever seen in the industry. 

The extended, holistic reach of the Omnevo platform now enables customer engagement at any journey point, including pre-order, in-flight shopping, post-flight and loyalty shopping as part of a single, cohesive shopping and entertainment inflight experience. On-board SIA, for example, passengers gain inflight ‘live’ access to KrisShop’s offerings, with a curated selection of over 4,000 products ranging from beauty and fragrances to electronics and liquor, as well as exclusive KrisShop and SIA merchandise. SIA passengers can shop from the comfort of their seat during their flight, supported by convenient delivery options, including to their homes almost anywhere in the world, as well as to upcoming SIA flights. 

The combination of a growing customer mindset that is open to engaging and relevant digital experiences with the opportunity to utilize inflight time makes this the biggest ancillary revenue opportunity available to airlines in the post-Covid recovery and beyond.

Inflight technology

Overcoming long-standing technical barriers, airfree’s semi-embedded technology enables airlines to update the content of their servers before every flight, thereby reducing satellite connection costs and optimizing bandwidth usage (whereby live inflight connectivity need only be utilized during the checkout phase), to ensure a fast, smooth and seamless experience for passengers. This on-board technology creates a ground-to-air service offering a rapid, connected shopping experience with an intuitive, responsive front-end design adapted for both IFE screens and personal devices. Additional features that airlines can incorporate include smart management of the product catalog, with route-based personalization, real time stock, price and promotion updates, multi-language and currency management, online payment, with every purchase trackable by shoppers through their account.

Omnevo and airfree share the belief that enabling ‘live’ omnichannel shopping from the passenger seat for the first time offers the optimal pathway for airlines to monetize their IFE systems far more effectively, while giving the passenger more choice and better service as part of a new standard of inflight experience. It also creates major opportunities for airlines to rapidly expand and exploit their loyalty programs on a highly flexible platform that can be readily adapted to address future passenger needs. 

Omnevo’s partnership with airfree enables airline IFE systems to be empowered as a potentially industry-changing revenue route, neatly blending the airline’s expansion of the seatback entertainment elements with unprecedented new opportunities to drive ancillary revenue, effectively making shopping an integral and highly engaging element of the IFE experience.

The SIA rollout is the first stage in a partnership between Omnevo and airfree and will serve as a blueprint to enable the new joint-platform across any WIFI-enabled aircraft in the future.

Omnevo Chief Executive Officer Michael Raasch said: “As airlines seek to recover from the greatest revenue crisis in aviation history, the inflight revenue opportunity has been revolutionized through a powerful, proven path to higher revenue. With this newly expanded platform for KrisShop, we have demonstrated how leading airlines can bridge the industry’s pivotal gap in the targeting of the inflight customer by placing the digital shopping experience right in front of them, in the seatback. The decades-old conundrum of how to fully exploit the ‘captive’ inflight audience and actually deliver the revenue-driving potential of IFE can now be resolved through a dedicated, cutting-edge online shopping experience.

Consumer digital adoption was greatly accelerated in the crisis and airlines must respond with a stronger customer experience across all journey points, including, crucially, in the air. This extension of our single, connected, tailored platform opens up viable, cost-effective new routes to recovery not only for FSCs but also for LCCs. Digitalization is the only way to grow ancillary revenue in this turbulent market and seize a lasting competitive advantage.”

Etienne de Verdelhan, CEO of airfree, explained the model’s advantages: “Airfree’s expertise in optimizing the inflight shopping experience through our unique and innovative technology, combined with Omnevo strong ground based E-commerce solution, provides all the necessary tools for airlines willing to develop their own E-commerce offer. Together with IFEC partners, Airfree’s technical solution enables airlines to overcome all the challenges to providing a home-style shopping experience in the highly constrained environment of the aircraft cabin. In particular, by dividing the bandwidth used for a purchase by a factor of more than 100, we allow passenger a seamless browsing experience while ensuring cost-effective operations for the airline. There is no longer a block for airlines to sell a virtually unlimited number of offerings inflight, opening an untapped potential to translate flight time into incremental sales.”

Omnevo Founder Kian Gould added: “With the traditional inflight revenue model in continuous decline and incapable of delivering today’s customer needs, this expansion of the Omnevo platform to 30,000 feet delivers the in-seat digital experience that every passenger wants and the inflight revenue opportunity that every airline needs. Our partnership with airfree and Singapore Airlines demonstrates how a collaborative approach across specialist skill sets can inspire innovative technological and design solutions that drive an expanded, seamless customer journey, overcoming the sector’s traditional barriers and radically expanding the inflight revenue opportunity.

At Omnevo, we are always open to the development of strategic, agile collaborations like this as the key to providing the comprehensive digital experiences that customers love and increasingly expect, transforming the revenue potential for both FSCs and LCCs.  Through this collaborative mindset, we can help any airline drive new levels of operational efficiencies and create stronger, more stable ancillary revenue streams in the highly challenging years ahead.”

About airfree:

Airfree is a French-based start-up founded in 2016 with the ambition to reinvent the inflight shopping experience. Etienne de Verdelhan and Agnès Debains, leaders and co-founders of airfree, have deep experience in omnichannel commerce, IT, and retail transformation. They are convinced, more than ever in a post-Covid industry, that inflight shopping must evolve to reach the digital standards passengers are used to at home.

About Omnevo:

Omnevo has set out to change the travel commerce ecosystem permanently. Molded from the merger of AOE's leading aviation E-Commerce technology (OM3) and catering and supply-chain expert SHIFTEO, Omnevo’s unique, vendor-independent solution provides mobility and hospitality providers with full control of omnichannel retail customer engagement and delivers consistent experiences throughout the revenue journey.

Aviation & Travel

True Innovation Comes Outside The Cabin

One of the biggest emerging trends I have seen in the airline sector over the last couple of years is the concept of passenger self-serve onboard or order to seat. Despite the almost constant discussion at every industry event, the funny thing is, this isn’t really new at all – almost 10 years ago, a former CEO of an onboard retail technology provider proclaimed: “Over time the duty free model will shift to 100% passenger self-service transactions. One of the biggest reasons being the fact that the trolley only comes down the aisle once a journey, for half an hour – in essence the duty free store is only open for half an hour. If I can make transactions myself, through self-service technology, the store is open for the entire flight.” And yet, a decade later, this isn’t even close to the reality on-board most aircraft. During the pandemic, with the need for social distancing, coupled with a desire for innovation, self-service again bubbled to the fore – it gained a new level of relevance. With passengers across all demographics accustomed to ordering everything from groceries to new cars via their phones, digital transactions onboard an aircraft look to be a natural extension of what has become an everyday digital experience. The aviation sector is obsessed (but occasionally intimidated) by digital answers, and there is much that can already be done. Making a digital store available for browsing and even purchasing is achievable, both on IFE and passengers own devices. The process raises a number of operational implications, such as how crew learn of and deliver orders, how payments are handled (particularly if there is no air-to-ground connection) and how this sits alongside the existing cabin service. All of these issues require significant thought and, in some cases investment; and there lies the heart of the problem.