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Too Little Time or Too Few Hands? The Hassles of Traditional Airport Shopping

Bonnie Milam Aug 8, 2023 6:30:00 AM
traditional airport shopping is hard

I don’t travel as much as I used to. But I remember the years I spent flying somewhere different every few weeks. The excitement and dread came in equal measure as I headed out to wherever I was going. There was a thrill of going somewhere new for that all-important meeting mixed with the understanding that at least one thing would probably go awry along the way. 

With air travel, frustration points are everywhere, from struggling to find a parking space to the extra-long bag-drop and TSA lines and last-minute gate changes. When you allow enough time to address these travel complications, the airport can be something of a sanctuary - at least after security. The airport, and more specifically airport stores, is where we can treat ourselves (or perhaps distract ourselves) with goodies that make traveling just a little more bearable.

Frequent travelers have their go-to items they pick up along the way. For me, it’s a pack of gum and a book. If the airport is cold, I’ll grab a hoodie with a design of the local city or favorite team printed on the front. But, airport shopping isn’t as easy as it should be. You’re already carrying luggage and perhaps a small personal item. You probably have your phone in hand, keeping your airline app and boarding pass handy.

You step into a magazine store to browse around, but if you find something to buy, what do you do? Sure, you can stuff a magazine under your arm and hold a few snacks in your hand.  Need a water bottle? That will have to fit under your other arm. If you want a souvenir, well, that gets more complicated. You can try to balance it on your roller bag until you get to the checkout, but after that, if you want anything else, you’re pretty much out of options. You've run out of arms. 

You finally figure out how to hold everything and head to the cashier only to discover the store is self-checkout. Somehow you’re expected to get your items one by one onto a platform to either self-scan or have the system visually identify what you purchased. Then, you dig out your credit card, pay for your goods, put your card away, and try to figure out how to pick everything back up before leaving the store. No wonder the lines are long! Sometimes, it's easier just to skip shopping altogether. 

With a checkout-free store, airport shopping becomes seamless. You simply tap your credit card to enter (while your hands are still free) and take what you want. AI-powered cameras and sensors accurately track what you pick up, so you’re not obligated to stop at a checkout stand to verify your purchases.

This is where the magic happens. Browse for gum, pick your favorite, and drop it in your bag. Water bottle? Slip it in your carry-on. Cold in the airport? You don’t have to wait to leave the store before slipping on your new hoodie. A few snacks and a last-minute souvenir? As you shop, just put your purchases away in your bags. You’re not limited to what you can carry in your hands or what you can fit on a self-checkout kiosk. The best part? There’s no line and no stopping before zipping out of the store. You're automatically billed for what you take with you. 

Checkout-free isn't just good for travelers, it’s great for airport retailers too. It's common sense that when shoppers can easily buy more items faster, they typically do. The Zippin-powered Fort Worth Magazine store at DFW International Airport saw average transaction values increase 47% just during the first six months of operating. Average shopping times, from entering the store, to browsing, discovery, and exit, were just 2.4 minutes. From my own experience with airport shopping, I’d attribute most of that time to browsing. Travelers who otherwise would be worried about missing their flight can zip into a checkout-free store and be on their way without any hassles. 

Learn more about what Zippin can do for you. 

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