As airlines look to improve customer experiences for passengers, they've also been looking for ways to offer new services and generate additional revenue. Airlines such as Air Asia have already announced plans to introduce a new eStore and an e-Wallet to help making payments while inflight. Another airline has also announced new plans for inflight shopping.
China Eastern Airlines is working on a "Air to Home" inflight shopping service, which would allow passengers to purchase items online while onboard a flight and have it delivered to the recipient's home. The airline has selected 30 products for a trial period including popular Chinese skincare and designer brands.
Kyle Cheung, deputy director of Transformation Office of China Eastern Airlines, said: “The traditional inflight retail (experience) is (driven) by airlines; passengers buy what airlines supply. However, the new inflight e-commerce retail is (driven) by passengers; airlines supply what passengers want; and the passengers decide to whether to shop online or offline and where to deliver.”
The new service will be made possible by a partnership with BlueFocus IFEC, a company working to help airlines in their integrating inflight wifi to their aircraft in China. China Southern is also looking to take advantage of the country's relaxed inflight wi-fi policy and the rapid development of inflight wifi among China's airline industry.
Pointing out that China’s inflight Internet “is obviously behind the US and other western developed countries”, the partners stated China Eastern’s intentions to give the service a new focus – in this case leveraging it to offer Internet-based retail experiences. Differentiated services, the partners say, “may (become) one of the key points of airlines’ layout”.
China Eastern's new service is aimed at the country's rapidly growing civil aviation travellers, where in 2017 it is estimated that 670 million people took a flight in the country. It is currently the 7th largest airline in the world, and one of China's three state-owned airlines.