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Kian Gould Interview Part 1: "Frankfurt Airport was a pioneer in Omnichannel E-Commerce"

February 07, 2019
About the author Christian HolzschuhChristian Holzschuh
Marketing & Communications

What are the challenges in Travel Retail? How can airports, travel retailers and airlines respond to changing customer behavior? And what role does E-Commerce play in airports' new business models? Kian Gould, CEO and founder of AOE, answers these and other questions in an interview with Peter Marshall.

Interview with AOE CEO Kian Gould – Part 1 of 3

The two industry professionals took the TFWA Summit in Cannes as an opportunity to discuss the most important trends and topics in the travel retail industry. In the three-part interview, Kian explains the beginnings of the OM³ Platform, which first went live worldwide at Frankfurt Airport, and explains the different business models and USPs at FrankfurtAuckland International Airport and London Heathrow.

In this first part, you can also find out how to measure the success of digitalization strategies and Omnichannel platforms, why and how online and offline commerce support each other and how digital solutions improve the customer journey. A transcript is also available for download.

Transcript Part 1 (excerpts)

In their three-part video interview, Peter Marshall of Marshall Arts International, and Kian Gould, CEO of AOE, discuss challenges that airports and the travel retail industry are facing. Learn about different approaches to these challenges and find out how Frankfurt Airport, London Heathrow and Auckland International are digitalizing their business cases to optimize the customer experience and create new non-aviation revenue streams.

Frankfurt was the first airport to digitalize its business model with OM³, plus measuring success of Omnichannel E-Commerce platforms in travel retail

  1. Peter Marshall: Frankfurt was a pioneer, so it was a huge learning curve for you and airport. Subsequent to that success story – I’m sure you will walk us through what the basket size has improved to and so on – you’ve picked up Heathrow Boutique, another major hub, and really an even more fully-developed omnichannel, multi-retailer solution for Auckland. Just walk us through the nuances between the three different opportunities.

    Kian Gould: Frankfurt was pretty much the first to attempt something like this. If you are a pioneer, then you make some mistakes at the beginning. You have challenges. They set up a fantastic team internally with the right people. The brought in people from DHL, a lot of people that had experience with E-Commerce before, and they did a very thorough business analysis. There was huge learning in this process.

    The approach of each airport is quite different, because each airport has its unique own USP.

    For example, while Frankfurt wanted to capitalize on the breadth of products and the benefits of services and really create this all-encompassing marketplace, the focus for Heathrow at the very beginning was pure luxury – primarily to have that that boutique feeling. Heathrow is really one of the airports that has the broadest product range of luxury brands directly at the airport. So, that is what we capitalized on there.

    For Auckland, there is actually a unique setting there, because New Zealand is still somewhat underdeveloped when it comes to E-Commerce; simply, because the market is too small for one of the big players to set up huge warehouses, logistics and infrastructure.

    To give you an idea, a lot of places in New Zealand don’t get mail daily, they get it every three days. Same day delivery is not a common thing that people expect there. So, for the airport, the idea there was really about how can the airport become one of the biggest E-Commerce players in the whole country. That is how they approached it, which is, of course, very different from a market such as Germany, which is very mature with hundreds of players. Amazon can deliver within four hours to very location in Germany. So, a different focus. And this is what we really try to do: To bring out the USPs in each airport and develop them.

  2. Peter Marshall: Frankfurt has been up and running for about two years plus. Heathrow, under a year and Auckland has just started trading. They all start slowly, but it grows, but the vision is for it to be very broadly based for all three. How would you determine how successful your platform has been for each of these?

    Kian Gould: I think there are three ways to measure success.

    One, is the pure financial success of the transactions that you generate through platform. That is something that is growing continuously and it’s very much driven by how much relevant traffic the airport can generate onto a platform. It is partner-driven, marketing-driven, reputation-driven. An airport like Heathrow, which has a reputation as the best shopping airport for ten years running, hasit much easier to get people to a shopping site than an airport that is not famous for that.


Do you want to know what the other two factors for measuring success of travel retail commerce platforms are? Interested in finding out how the USPs of each airport influence their respective non-aviation revenue business models? And, most importantly, how do these platforms impact spend per head? Read the entire transcript of Part I below for answers to these – and other – questions.

Download Transcript

Kian Gould

Kian Gould

CEO and Founder / AOE
The beauty about omnichannel E-Commerce is that online and offline channels enrich each other instead of one cannibalizing the other."

TFWA Summit in Cannes: Kian Gould Interview with Peter Marshall

In parts 2 and 3 of the video, Kian Gould explains, among other things, which USP airports have when it comes to E-Commerce. You will also learn why airports underestimate the cost of implementing E-Commerce solutions and why mass-market products cannot solve E-Commerce problems at airports:


Press release: Omnevo and Fraport extend long-term partnership by 5 more years

Frankfurt, July 14th, 2021 - Omnevo, leading provider of revenue-increasing digital platform solutions for airports and airlines and part of the AOE Group, and Fraport AG, owner and operator of Germany's largest airport, announced today that Frankfurt Airport goes live with the latest advanced version of Omnevo's award-winning omnichannel e-commerce solution. Additionally, the two companies announced that they have extended their long-term partnership for another five years to further develop the digitalization of the airport's range of products and services for the almost 70 million passengers (before COVID-19) who travel through Frankfurt Airport each year. With go-live, the existing digital solution platform, which Omnevo’s parent company (AOE) had originally developed for Fraport, was migrated to the latest Omnevo product version. Through its original partnership with AOE Fraport utilized the OM³ digital platform (now known as Omnevo) to become the world’s first omnichannel airport focused entirely on omnichannel both before and, especially, during the pandemic. The newly enhanced Omnevo cloud solution enables the operation of a complete airport marketplace solution for all travel retail sales at a fraction of the costs previously required for such a leading ecosystem, creating new revenue opportunities for crisis-hit airports of any size. Thanks to the highly flexible SaaS solution, Fraport has also effectively future-proofed its digital strategy by integrating directly in the Omnevo product roadmap, enabling it to benefit from Omnevo’s strategy of continuous improvements to the solution.


A personal perspective on leadership

The past year has been extraordinary in so many ways and, while the tragic impact on lives takes precedence, we’ve also had to deal with the huge changes in our working life too. As the crisis developed early last year, I was busy planning in my new role as CEO of Omnevo - AOE’s new specialist product division - positioned as a digital solution pioneer in the travel industry, launching in early 2021. As the crisis grew, this became the most challenging experience of my career, but I’ve been surprised to find that it’s also become one of the most instructive and rewarding experiences too. Creating and launching any new company is always a huge challenge but we suddenly faced extraordinary new barriers as the way we do business had to be transformed. Much of 2020 was spent planning the new company and today, still operates almost exclusively remotely. Many of us, including some of the founders, worked together for almost a year but have still not actually met in person! Yet we already operate successfully in a global network and are scaling and winning new business. Omnevo is a truly virtual organization; this is how we were born and that is how we thrive. In this short time, we’ve already made our mark on this industry, with a culturally diverse, agile and highly committed team working alongside customers of all sizes around the globe. We’re gaining a lot of attention because we are recognized as game changers - and that innovative spirit is integral to our team spirit. We are committed to being the digital challengers and innovators in the travel and mobility industry – an ethos drives us every day. And it’s working. But what is the glue behind this, what makes us successful? Why is it working and, in these bizarre working conditions, how did we manage to get the team so well and engage with our customers so quickly? I’m obviously proud of what we’ve achieved but I want to share my personal perspective on how we made this happen and hope that it will resonate with others in the industry - and, hopefully, help you with your management challenges too.