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Kian Gould Interview Part 3: “You need to be able to order a product with the swipe of a finger”

February 14, 2019
About the author Christian HolzschuhChristian Holzschuh
Marketing & Communications

What does digitalization mean for airports? What can airports do to avoid beginner’s mistakes when introducing E-Commerce solutions? Why are premium products purchased so frequently in the travel retail environment? And how can airlines and airports work together optimally to achieve a win-win situation for everyone involved? Kian Gould, CEO and founder of AOE, answered these and other questions in an interview with Peter Marshall.

Interview with AOE CEO Kian Gould – Part 3 of 3

Peter and Kian spoke at the TFWA Summit in Cannes about the challenges in the travel retail industry - and how airports, airlines and retailers react to them. In addition, in the third part of the three-part interview, Kian explains how airlines are progressing with the digitalization of their E-Commerce offerings, why travel retail can simultaneously prevent and benefit from digital disruption, and what changes in the basic attitudes of all participants are necessary for digitalization in travel retail to be successful.

Transcript Part 3 (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.

80,000 SKUs of beauty and cosmetics, liquor and tobacco on a platform is not the solution for E-Commerce at airports

  1. Peter Marshall: So, what do you think is going to be the tipping point? The trigger point for airports to enter into the right kind of conversation with you? What’s going to prompt them?

    Kian Gould: If I knew that, I would be very happy. What we can say is that we have been invited by almost all the big airport groups to do tenders in 2018 or 2017. A lot of them are starting to prepare to tender, are starting to prepare the strategy. Everyone is trying to wrap their heads around “what does digitalization mean for an airport?” If you are talking to ops people and if you are talking to strategy or commercial people, those are two very different stories. If you talk to a CIO about digitalization, they are thinking about tracking, about biometric passport control, about how to ensure much more seamless workflows, baggage handling and so on. And if you are talking to commercial people, it’s an completely different story, obviously.

    A lot of the airports are in this situation now, they are trying to hire the right know-how, because they have never done E-Commerce before, so they do need this know-how. This is a process that we are seeing.


What is the passengers' main focus when buying goods? Who is really driving digitalization in travel retail? Which two questions need to be answered before creating a successful E-Commerce business model? Read the entire transcript of Part III below for answers to these – and other – questions.

Kian Gould

Kian Gould

CEO and Founder / AOE
What we are trying to do is prevent disruption in travel retail and benefit from it at the same time."

TFWA Summit in Cannes: Kian Gould Interview with Peter Marshall

In the first two parts of the interview, Kian Gould explains the different business models for E-Commerce at Frankfurt AirportAuckland Airport and London Heathrow. Among other things, you will also learn how to measure the success of digitalization strategies and omnichannel platforms, which USPs airports have in E-Commerce and what obstacles they face when implementing such solutions:


How airlines can regain trust, loyalty and revenue by taking control of the digital customer journey.

December’s World Aviation Festival in London was a great opportunity to bring the industry together and, although attendance was inevitably lower than normal, there was a strong conference program that carried a mood of guarded optimism. Best of all, I was delighted to see just how strongly the focus was on real action to drive ancillary revenue and recovery.  Much of 2021 has been spent waiting for a recovery to be established and many airlines have understandably been hesitant (or unable) to commit to new investment or major change in their customer operations. The long hoped-for recovery has been impossible to forecast accurately and many airlines opted to simply ‘hunker down’ and wait until a clearer path can be seen through the storm. That strategy carries deep risks. We now face a new phase of crisis as Omicron sadly develops its global presence but the fact is that the world will continue to turn, people will continue to travel, the crisis will eventually recede, and traffic will return. Airlines need to be preparing right now to create the customer experience that the recovery will demand.  Yes, the picture of how the 2022 travel market will look in recovery is still blurred right now - but the key point is that we do already know exactly what the returning customer looks like and what they want. We have a clear understanding of the experience they want - and we have the digital tools to deliver that experience.