Dallas Love Field, Myrtle Beach Int’l Debut Contactless Retail

Dallas Love Field, Myrtle Beach Int’l Debut Contactless Retail
Author: 
Nicole Nelson
Published in: 
July-August
2021

Despite increasing vaccination rates and decreasing new cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., Mark Duebner realizes that pandemic fears persist, and that a portion of the traveling public remains reluctant to resume once commonplace practices such as shopping.

“Some folks may be nervous about going into a newsstand and handling items or interacting with a cashier,” reasons the Dallas Love Field (DAL) airport director. “And, until recently, they were opting not to buy.”

To quell concerns among this tentative customer base, DAL partnered with Dufry-owned Hudson to open its first digital retail concession, powered by Just Walk Out technology from online giant Amazon. The contactless Hudson Nonstop store opened post-security near Gate 10 in February under a joint venture agreement with disadvantaged business enterprise partners Multiplex Inc. and REGALi Inc. 

Same Stock, New Strategy

facts&figures

Project: Digital Retail

Strategy: Provide contactless shopping for customers who want more convenience, safety & speed

Location: Dallas Love Field

Format: Hudson Nonstop store

Size: 500 sq. ft.

Hours: 5 a.m.-9 p.m.

How It Works: Customers swipe a credit card to enter, select items from shelves & receive charge on selected credit card after exiting the store

Inventory: Grab & go food; beverages & snack items; small electronics; personal protective equipment; health & beauty products; Texas-theme merchandise

Concessionaire: Hudson, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dufry

Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Partners: Multiplex Inc.; REGALi Inc.

Technology: Just Walk Out technology, from Amazon

Grand Opening: Feb. 2021

Initial Assessment: Airport reports strong sales, not at the expense of other traditional retailers

Location: Myrtle Beach (SC) Int’l Airport

Format: Multi-brand Vending Cluster

Size: 90 sq. ft.

Hours: 24/7

Brands Offered: Brookstone; Apple; Beats; Revo; Plexaderm

Concessionaire: Hudson, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dufry

Grand Opening: March 2021

Initial Assessment: Airport values the unit’s product range & ability to offer customers contactless retail around the clock

The tech-forward venture provides DAL with the “right concept at the right time,” says Duebner. Customers enter the 500-square-foot linear store with the swipe or tap of a credit card, select their items, and then exit the store. Amazon’s aptly named Just Walk Out technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to store shelves and keeps track of them in virtual carts. When customers are done shopping, they simply leave the store without standing in line for a clerk to ring up their purchases. Shortly after leaving Hudson Nonstop, customers are charged for their purchases on the credit card they used to enter the store. Itemized receipts are available by email through an opt-in sign up at a kiosk within the DAL store.

Inventory at DAL’s innovative concession option includes familiar Hudson fare: grab-and-go food items, beverages and snacks, travel electronics, personal protective equipment, health and beauty products, etc. Being located in Dallas, Hudson Nonstop also sells Texas-themed merchandise.

“This retail concept gives passengers the option of a cashierless environment to pick up what they need, walk out and really avoid contact,” Duebner explains. “Fingers crossed, all indications are that it is going to be a good addition to our retail lineup.”

After monitoring the new store for a handful of months, Duebner reports that sales have been strong and are not coming at the expense of the airport’s other more traditional retail locations. “So, to us, it points to the fact that we are serving a segment of our customer base that we weren’t serving previously,” he remarks.

Hudson Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Brian Quinn notes that the company determined DAL’s strong digital infrastructure and high volume passenger flow would make it an ideal location for a walk-through store.

“Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology perfectly complements our existing digital footprint, as it allows us to provide travelers with yet another innovative solution for contactless retailing without sacrificing a personalized customer experience,” he explains.

21st Century Vending

Hudson Nonstop stores are just one part of an overarching digital transformation the airport retailer is currently executing. For the first time ever, the company is also offering automated retail stocked with specialty retail brands. Quinn notes that both new formats are designed to adapt to changing retail trends; meet shoppers’ increased expectations for convenience, safety and speed; and enhance the travel experience.

Myrtle Beach International (MYR) is the first to debut Hudson’s new automated retail option. In March, the South Carolina airport opened a compact multi-brand vending machine cluster stocked with electronics, eyewear and skincare items.

“It really gives people the option for touchless, contactless, 24/7 retail,” explains MYR Assistant Director of Airports Judi Olmstead.

Hudson initially contacted MYR about its new unstaffed option in spring 2020. Olmstead says that the vending unit’s small, non-traditional footprint and bountiful lineup of popular brands such as Brookstone, Apple, Beats, Revo and Plexaderm made it an attractive option for the coastal airport. Multiple payment options, ADA-compliant access and antimicrobial safety shields were other appealing features, she adds.

About one year after Hudson pitched its new option to MYR, the airport installed the 90-square-foot unit in a prominent location on Concourse A. The project team specifically positioned the vending cluster where employees at a nearby Hudson store can provide assistance and answer customers’ questions.

Hudson’s Quinn likens MYR’s new automated retail to a miniature shopping mall. “The machines feature easy-to-use interactive touchscreens that allow travelers to browse merchandise images and extensive product information,” he explains. 

The March opening, just before the summer vacation season, aligned well with the anticipated return of leisure travel to the area, he adds.

“Our Myrtle Beach automated retail unit has been operational for a relatively short time, so sales there are currently a very small part of our business,” Quinn reports. “However, we expect revenue for automated retail overall to increase as we roll out additional units and travel continues to rebound into the summer months.”

Hudson recently announced that its second Nonstop store will open at Chicago Midway International Airport in mid-2021. “We will also roll out automated retail at Chicago Midway and San Jose this summer,” Quinn adds. “And those units will offer a variety of other brands.”

Future automated retail locations are slated to offer an array of new selections including skincare from The Art of Shaving; Sony and Belkin electronics; toy brands Kikkerland Design and LEGO; lifestyle accessories from Happy Socks and 47 Brand; and Maui Jim eyewear.

Subcategory: 
Concessions/Retail

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