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Travel Retail

Travel Retail

What is Travel Retail?

The concept of travel retail is more prevalent and known to everyone than our imaginations permit. And so is the scope of travel retailing. The business model of travel retail is in existence even before someone coined that term. Airports, train stations and bus stands are prime examples where travel retailing takes place in its simplest forms. Now who has not seen bookstores, restaurants, beverage kiosks, authorised foreign exchange counters, and other such stores and services in these places? Travel retailing is a form of retail business model targeted at travellers and thus, the selling points are located in places like airports, train stations, bus depots, taxi stands, ports, or any place used by travellers in their journey.

About the Travel Retail Industry

The travel retail industry is anticipated to assume a high growth trajectory in the coming decade and is forecasted by some experts to be growing at a CAGR of over 8%. According to Statista, the international travel retail market is estimated to reach USD 60 billion in 2023. By 2030, the industry is anticipated to touch USD 175 billion. If these projections come true, this is going to be a massive growth from a meagre USD 20 billion in 2020. This growth is expected to be driven by many factors including an increasing number of travellers especially from the growing economies in Asia, Africa, Africa, and the Middle East and particularly the Asia Pacific market.

The airport retail sector accounts for more than 70% of the travel retail market. Leading international travel retailing brands are concentrating on delivering an elevated customer experience through various retail automation and digitisation solutions.

Travel Retail as a Business Opportunity

The travel retail industry is a market with high growth potential. It caters to the shopping/emergency needs of travellers. Here are some of the factors that make travel retail an exciting business opportunity.

More Travellers, More Travelling

Statistics may not be required to gauge that the number of travellers by any mode of commuting is only increasing over time. Be it air, rail, road, bus, or taxis, more and more people are joining the economy. Some travel for studies, some for work, some for business and profession, and some for tourism and so on. These numbers are only increasing. There is an increase in traffic in all modes of travelling. This offers a tremendous business opportunity for retailers if they can connect with their customers over physical touchpoints in their travel journeys. These touchpoints are designated areas in airports, train stations, bus stands, and other logistical places.

Promotion of Tourism

Tourism is a significant source of revenue for governments. International travellers bring in foreign currencies that contribute to forex reserves. Governments get tax revenue in various forms from travel and tourism. Tourism also provides a source of employment preceded by the establishment of businesses. So, governments have many solid grounds to promote tourism. This necessitates them to build a business-friendly environment that attracts commercial interest. This has made travel retailing an enticing business opportunity for retail startups, existing retailers, and even foreign retail brands. Dubai is a prime example of this phenomenon where one can attend global shopping festivals tuned to attract customers from all over the world.

Rise in Travel Shopping

Some experts evaluate that more than 50% of travellers indulge in shopping while travelling. They believe that there could be many reasons for this. Sometimes the need is of emergent nature. Sometimes people forget things back at home. Sometimes needs are not realised until the product is seen. Sometimes product unavailability is also the reason. But all these would mean nothing without the willingness and openness to shop while travelling. In the last few years, there has been a massive change in this shopping behaviour of travellers. This change brought a positive impact on travel retailing.

Digital Payments

As digital payment becomes increasingly prevalent around the world, its benefits have also touched the travel retail industry. The benefits of digital payment which are applicable elsewhere also apply to travel purchasing or travel shopping. With digital payment solutions in place, travellers no longer have to worry about having less cash in hand. International payment solutions also take care of their foreign exchange requirements. There may also be restrictions on the amount of cash someone can carry while travelling which also gets dealt with via digital banking. As payment and payment-related concerns get addressed for travellers, it makes things easier for travel retailers.

Role of the Internet

The internet has also played its fair share in driving the growth of travel retailing businesses. This is not just in terms of facilitating digital payment but also as the source and verifier of information for travellers. Travellers can instantly check on the internet about stores, products, prices, and other information available on the internet for validation before making any purchase from travel retail shops. This is comparable to how many customers shop over eCommerce. For example, products are priced higher in retail stores located in airports. If a customer can compare and find that the price difference is not significant, it helps them make a quicker decision. Without the internet, customers did not have this privilege.

Planned Shopping

It is not necessary that shopping while travelling has to be random and unplanned. If the right systems of shopping are in place, travellers can plan their shopping. An interesting factor involved in travelling is the weight of luggage. In many cases, travellers may choose not to overburden their luggage and purchase some of their low-cost, avoidable requirements in their journeys or upon reaching their destinations. This lets customers plan their shopping. Retailers can work on their merchandising strategies to meet the kinds of product requirements of travellers. This makes knowing and adjusting to customers’ demand-consumption journey a strategic area of interest for retailers.

Scope of Innovation

The scope of innovation is huge in travel retailing. There are ample avenues for innovations in the existing business models that have not been explored yet. With changing times, retailers need to avoid falling into traditional ways of thinking. For instance, people who commonly fly by air today can no longer be defined by the same parameters used 10 or 20 years back. Today, air passengers represent a wide demography indicating new business possibilities.

Business Challenges in Travel Retail

Demand Forecasting

Travel retail stores face many challenges and one of the foremost ones is achieving precision in demand forecasts. One reason for this is the temporary and dynamic nature of demand in travel shopping. It is difficult to figure out pattern-based consistencies in demand. The variations and volatility of demand make it perplexing to formulate baseline projections. The buyers’ behaviour is also predisposed to the purpose of travel, frequency of travel, time of the year, etc. For example, when the airfares are high, passengers are more diligent about spending.

Moving but Confined Customer Base

The number of passengers travelling remains more or less the same over long periods. This means retailers may have access to a flow of customers but that customer base is also limited. Also, all the travellers may not reflect the target segment. In that sense, travel retailing is restricting. Then, attracting travelling customers is also not a cakewalk. Customers are aware that merchandise is available at relatively expensive rates in places like airports and prudence does not allow making planned purchases in such places.

High Rentals

Commercial rentals for retail space in places like airports and metro stations can cut deep into pockets. And like any other rental property, these are also subject to annual hikes. This further increases the commercial burden on businesses with every passing year. So, if the revenues do not rise at desirable rates, things can get ugly in terms of the commercial performance of businesses. The same phenomenon applies to other operating expenses as well.

Longer Replenishment Time

The inventory sold in the travel retail stores in sensitive places like airports or metro stations must go through stringent security screening. This sometimes makes inventory replenishment a time-consuming process. Also, procurement processes have to be started much earlier to ensure that merchandise could be on the shelves on time. This also renders making alterations in merchandising or product mixes a task of significant deliberation.

Longer Open Hours

Places like airports or train stations run 24×7 in many cities and countries. And it is common to see that retail stores in such places also remain open according to the schedule of the latter. Some stores may remain closed during the night but the majority of them remain open around the clock. This necessitates shift-based working which is exhausting and stressful for both employees and business owners.

Longer Onboarding of Employees

As mentioned earlier, working inside sensitive places like ports and stations is subject to stringent regulations. In addition to the independent checks and measures of businesses, there is also a need to adhere to the rules and regulations laid down by concerned authorities and other regulatory bodies governing recruitment and other employee-related affairs of travel businesses in those locations. So, the entire process of recruiting and onboarding of employees may take longer than usual.

Limited Space

The scope for retailers to do much with visual merchandising or layout adjustments in their stores is limited. With restricted space, retailers have very little room to flex with merchandising. Some stores do not even have any rear space for keeping small quantities of backup inventory. This makes travel retailing much more daunting for small business owners. And restricted stocking capabilities affect the product offerings and variants that can be offered to customers.

Returns and Refunds

After passengers leave a travel centre like a train station or airport, the process of executing return and refund becomes a nightmarish task for both customers and retailers. This prompts many retailers to display signs of no return and no refund policies. But that works only till a competitor comes up with a solution. The ability and convenience of returns and refunds never fail to attract customers.


Started in 2012, YRC is a retail and eCommerce consulting enterprise specialising in business solutions geared for growth and expansion. With a budding international footprint, the team has worked with 500+ clients in 25+ verticals. The services and solutions are steered by expert retail consultants with relevant professional and project exposure following sets of planned and proven principles and processes.

In travel retailing, YRC’s extensive expertise in different areas of retailing resonates with a wide range of business situations. Services and solutions relevant to travel retailers are briefly highlighted below.

In business model development, YRC assists in identifying and defining robust and relevant value propositions. The value chains are mapped and defined enveloping the best route to develop and deliver the identified value propositions to the target segment.

In financial and commercial planning, YRC assesses the business commercials required to pull off business models. The various calculations covered include demand projections, procurement planning, sales and revenue estimates, CAPEX and OPEX, estimated P/L statements, ROI and break-even analysis, and other parameters as per relevance.

One of the important objectives for travel retailers is achieving space optimisation without compromising on other business prerogatives. In layout planning, YRC generates multiple layout options keeping in mind the unique specifications and business prerogatives of clients like customer experience and visual merchandising.

SOP-based operations planning offers many advantages. But two undeniable reasons to develop and implement SOPs by travel retail stores are better inventory management and adherence to governing rules and regulations. SOP development & implementation support is one of our flagship capabilities.

To know more about YRC’s travel retail consulting services or if you want any business-related query on travel retailing addressed by one of our expert travel retail consultants, drop us a message and we will reach out to you.

Let’s Talk!


    What is Travel Retail? What is Travel Retailing?

    Travel retailing is a form of retail business model targeted at travellers. The selling points are located in places like airports, train stations, bus depots, taxi stands, ports, or any place used by travellers in their journey.

    What is the future of travel retail?
    The travel retail industry is anticipated to don a high progression arc in the coming decade and is projected by some industry experts to be growing at a CAGR of over 8%. According to Statista, the global travel retail market is estimated to touch USD 60 billion in 2023. By 2030, the industry is expected to hover close to USD 175 billion. Some experts believe that more than 50% of travellers indulge in shopping while travelling. The scope of innovation is enormous in travel retailing. There are plentiful avenues for innovations in the prevailing business models that have not been experimented with yet.

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    We work only for Visionaries.


    The idea of having Ecommerce Consultants on-board from the beginning itself points towards reducing the involvement of the promoters in daily operations. Ecommerce Businesses willing to be a brand reaping profits & sustaining the competition must ensure that most of their processes should be automated. The more the manual intervention, the more would be the errors.

    In Ecommerce business, you get only 1 chance to impress the customer & if you mess up there, you lose the customer for long.

    Process automation in respect to all the activities pertaining to customers from order receiving to order fulfilment is a must for a seamless experience for the customers.

    Task Management is another grey area where most deadlines fail as 90% of the tasks are assigned manually & are forgotten, unheard, misunderstood or mistaken.

    YRC Team of Ecommerce Management Consultants helps to make maximum of the processes system-driven to ensure minimalistic manual intervention.


    No matter how good your product is, the customer would know only if it looks good.

    Photography includes the following steps:

    • Cataloguing your products
    • Cataloguing your images
    • Backup your images (A few cloud storage solutions include Dropbox, Google Drive, Bitcasa, Apple’s Cloud Storage etc.)
    • Choose the right camera & lens (You may also outsource the photography to a third party agency)


    Digital Marketing includes SEO & SMM. SEO i.e. Search Engine Optimization includes activities like back-linking, meta tags, blog-writing etc. to ensure your website ranks on the 1st page on Google Search.

    Next comes SMM i.e. “Social Media Marketing” which as the name suggests including promoting your products on all the social media sites, email marketing, influencer marketing & several other BTL activities.

    These activities are going to be recurring & would decide the traffic on the website, the conversions, whether the right target market is tapped, the likes, the views, the orders, the reviews & much more. YRCs Ecommerce Consultants create a budget for digital marketing right from pre-launch to launch & for each month thereafter.

    Building digital marketing strategies in coordination with the agency, selecting them to signing them off would be the role of YRC.

    This ensures seamless coordination, detailed interactions & desired execution as it is always advisable to work with a single agency than multiple of them.


    Selection of the right software for smooth functioning of back-end operations right from production to webstore display would be suggested and integrated by YRC Team.

    YRC’s Team defines SOPs of Product Movement, maps it with the locations & people. They then create a blueprint of all the features required in the software & help in shortlisting & selection.

    IT Integration involves connecting your offline inventories with real-time online webstore so when a sale occurs, inventories get deducted real time across offline as well as online platforms.

    This helps in accurate inventory management, maintaining the MOQs, re-order levels & achieving the optimum inventory levels.

    Some popular software include unicommerce, viniculum for your front-end website management & Genisys for your entire back-end Purchase, Production, Accounting, Invoicing etc. management.


    • How many cities or countries you wish to sell in?
    • Where should your Warehouse be located?
    • Should you have one warehouse in each country or city?
    • Should you be having your own delivery team in your base city?
    • Would the 3rd party vendors be reliable? What happens when they lose or misplace your product during delivery?
    • How should I manage the logistics if my goods are coming from different countries?
    • How should the goods be stored and barcoded?
    • How much space do I require for warehouse?
    • I am sure several such questions must be haunting you while you think of starting your own fashion ecommerce brand.


    At YRC, our warehousing and logistics experts can help you devise a strategy for all of the above mentioned queries and much more.

    We design the layout of the Warehouse considering the inward, goods processing, software entry, barcoding, outward, goods return, scrap storage, goods stacking & much more.

    Logistics route plan is devised considering the manufacturer to your warehouse and from there to last mile delivery locations.


    This Step involves 03 distinct parts:

    Part 1: Choosing the right Platform:

    From several platforms available in the market right from Shopify to magento, woocommerce, prestoshop, wordpress etc. you must choose the one that fits best for your business

    Part 2: UX Designing:

    “UX” denotes User Experience, which if put in simple language is building the functional requirements of the website.

    UX Designing includes designing the features required in the website, customer journey map, website features, the browsing features, navigation features, ecommerce order management process flow, checkout cart features, catalogue management, ecommerce payment system, cross selling features & much more.

    “As per statistics, 68% of the customers abandon the carts before payment”

    An interesting UX ensures the customer sticks on to the website for a longer time.

    Part 3: UI Designing:

    UI stands for User Interface, which means designing the look and feel of the website. UI includes using the right colours, elements and the entire aesthetics of the website.

    A good User Interface ensures the user completes the task that he has come for. It navigates the user through the journey of the brand in the simplest but most effective way.

    The UX designer maps out the bare bones of the user journey; the UI designer then fills it in with visual and interactive elements.

    If User experience is the bare bone, user interface wraps it up with an attractive cape.

    At YRC, our team if experts can help you develop the entire User Journey to ensure it is engaging!


    This step follows the “Designing” Phase, whether you have an in-house design team, freelance designers or an outsourced design company. It is one of the most exciting phases, as here you see your designs turning into products & your ideas turning into reality.

    In most start-up cases, production is outsourced i.e. brands tie-up with the established manufacturers/ job-workers to get their products manufactured.

    Sampling involves multiple 04 Stages, Fit-Sample, Prototype Sample, Pre-Production Sample & the Production Sample.

    Prototype Sample is the first sample provided to the buyer. It can be in any fabric/ colour. This sample is just to understand whether the product design looks equally great in reality.

    Fit Sample, as the name suggests is prepared to check the fit of the garment i.e. the various sizes, length, width etc.

    Pre-production is made by the actual production line. Here the stitching quality and other aspects related to manufacturing are checked. This is the last stage where rejection can be accepted.

    Production Sample is made before the production which is the replica of what is going to be finally produced.

    Once you are through with all this, you are good to go ahead & get your goods manufactured.


    Product Designing or Sourcing is the heart of the Ecommerce Fashion Brand.

    Product Designing / Sourcing can be done in several ways, as follows:

    • In-house Design Team
    • Freelance Designers
    • Outsourced Design Team
    • Ready Product Sourcing (From Manufacturer or Wholesaler)

    At YRC, we evaluate your business strategy & business model to arrive at the decision, which of the above ways would be best-fit for your business. In certain cases, product sourcing may be a combination of the above.

    These are the people who are going to build your brand! Whether they are the designers or merchandiser, your brand look is going to be in their hands.

    If you are designing each garment from the scratch, the sourcing would play crucial role in developing design identity of your brand.

    Sourcing includes fabric, trims, lining & all the raw material required to build the garment.


    Branding is the “Look of the Brand”, right from logo to tagline, the colours used, the brand story, the brand communications on social media, the packaging & all the other aspects which speak directly or indirectly to the customers. Branding constitutes the look & feel of the brand & hence must be thoughtfully planned to match with the product that we are selling.

    Branding must appeal to our target audience. Example : A golden colour logo depicting finesse, art, richness, premium, however beautiful it may be individually cannot go with a brand selling affordable kids wear products. So, your logo must be in-line with your brand positioning, whether you are an expensive brand or a luxury brand or a value for money brand, it must be depicted from your “Branding”.

    It is an integral part to attract the target audience.


    Organogram is the “HR Blueprint” of the business which is created at the onset, to map out the team required across each function at various stages of the business. At the launch, only key people need to be got on board to ensure the project gets started & at this stage, all of them need to multi-task. Similarly, certain financial as well as operational goals are set for addition of the further team. Example, for the operations team, we hire 1 operations manager during the pre-launch phase & we add 1 more only when the business kicks-off & we reach a volume of selling more than 1000 pcs/ month or a turnover of more than 0.1 million USD.

    SOPs are Standard Operating Procedures, a bible to run the entire organization right from Sales, Purchase, HR, Order receiving to Order fulfilment, Inventory Management, Accounts, Warehouse, Logistics, Supply Chain, Production & all the other relevant functions for the business. Business must be organized from its first day of operations; only then the tasks can be delegated.

    At YRC, we design the organization structure, the processes, and approximate time taken to execute each process, job profile of every member within the organization, their KRAs, KPIs & the Reporting Structure.


    Critical Pathway Analysis (CPA), is a project management technique which cannot be overlooked while launching an ecommerce fashion brand. Brand launch process is cumbersome with multiple inter-dependent & time-bound tasks involved, which need to be tracked to ensure the project remains on track.

    CPA outlines key tasks across the project, their turnaround time (TAT) & the dependencies of tasks upon each other. It identifies the sequence of tasks, their interdependent steps from inception to completion, their criticalities, and their dates of onset, target dates of completion along with the key responsible person for the respective activities. Critical Pathway helps in understanding the unimportant & not urgent tasks which may jeopardize the execution of the project because of an unexpected snag! It also maps out the potential bottlenecks which might be posed because of the dependencies of tasks upon each other & cases where the next task cannot be commenced before the completion of the previous one.

    CPA detects the minimum & the maximum time involvement of a particular individual or team to execute the task, thereby arriving at the overall deadlines associated with the project.

    At Your Retail Coach, we design the Critical Pathway & review it periodically to ensure the project is on track & the progress is measurable.


    Business Strategy includes the vision, mission, goals, business model, business plan & strategy for all the functions within the organization.

    Business Strategy is a well-defined plan that outlines who, what, where, why, how & when for the company; for example, who would be the target market, how to attract the target audience, when to launch new products, where to operate from, how to handle competitors, what would be the USP, what would be long term goal of the organization & several other answers to the 5Ws of Strategy.

    Business Strategy aligns the organization towards a common goal. Business SWOT helps company to identify & overcome their weaknesses & focus to sharpen the strengths. Business strategy forecasts future risks and helps business in building skillsets to overcome the potential threats.

    YRC’s Business Plan focuses on creating a “Blueprint” of the business, thereby deriving the feasibility of the concept & gauge whether the opportunity is lucrative to invest time, energy & effort. Business Plan creates cash flow understanding i.e. building inflow & outflow cash projections from Week zero to week 60 i.e. 05 year projection. Business Plan calculates the capital investment, operating costs, one-time costs, recurring costs & all the other numbers relevant to obtain the breakeven sales, return on investment, return on capital, internal rate of return & several other ratios. Business Plan is also one of the important requirements if you are targeting the “Investor Route”. Fund raising becomes extremely transparent & channelized. With business plan panned out clearly, the business will know until what point must it be stretched & where to stop, which reduces the probability of unplanned investments.


    Starting the concept of Ecommerce Fashion brand with Market Research ensures we get detailed understanding of the industry & this research report also acts as a social confirmation for your concept. Market Research helps in understanding the target locations, their population, potential online buyers for your product, competitors for each category, and top selling products of the competitors, competitors’ price range, offers & their responses & much more. Market Research helps in thorough understanding of your brand position as compared to our competitors. It helps in identifying gaps in the market, in your category along with the scope of the said product in the desired market. This will help in validation of your concept & prevents you from making the same mistakes as your fellow brands, eventually saving your time, energy & efforts. This phase is also a make or a break phase, as the market research study may at-times come up with some eye-popping numbers & statistics which might compel you to re-think on your product or category that you are planning to sell or alter your entire concept itself!! Market Research Reports analyse the competitors’ webstore for their traffic, conversion & sales. This is extremely valuable information to derive our inventory budgets & projections, which takes us to our next phase.