Industry Talks: KrisShop ceo Chris Pok

KrisShop ceo Chris Pok

Singapore Airlines’ flagship travel retailer KrisShop ceo Chris Pok tells BW Confidential about the company’s e-commerce strategy and reaching non-travelers

How have you looked to boost your digital business since the pandemic?

As the world moved into lockdown and countries implemented travel bans, COVID-19 upended the traditional inflight travel-retail model. However, it was also an opportunity, as it gave us the chance to champion our omnichannel approach.

Consumers staying indoors heralded an e-commerce boom, with digital shopping becoming the primary mode of leisure consumption. But even before the pandemic, broad consumer trends over the years revealed this general trajectory to us, which informed our decision to adopt an omnichannel approach in our retail efforts. Since our rebranding in 2019, we made the decision to focus on, redesigning the website to not only retain regular shoppers, but also to connect with and convert atypical audiences, such as non-travelers.

In the past year, we launched a number of campaigns and promotions targeted at local shoppers, as Singaporeans remained landbound. The approach was very targeted, with the team identifying key moments and expediting the onboarding of relevant brands across all our product categories to appeal to consumers.

To amplify campaigns, we worked closely with local media and influencers to highlight products available on our platform, as well as emphasize that consumers can shop, even without flying, on Taking the beauty and skincare category as an example, as part of our Stay Home Instagram Live Series, we had a session where a beauty influencer shared her skincare tips with our followers, and we also worked with a top lifestyle influencer to launch the official Sulwhasoo Brand Store on KrisShop. For our Tech Fair last September, we also engaged a local celebrity make-up artist to share his views on popular beauty gadgets.

As travel makes a slow, but sure recovery, we have our eye on enhancing the inflight customer experience, while continuing to focus on our e-commerce strategies for non-traveling consumers.


How is beauty performing on KrisShop?

In spite of the challenges that COVID-19 brought last year, KrisShop saw an overall growth in e-commerce sales, and we have more than doubled the number of brands available on KrisShop. We have also increased our product catalog and shoppers can now browse hundreds of products on our platform.

The beauty category has long been one of the key performing sectors for KrisShop’s inflight sales, further strengthened by the onboarding of new beauty and skincare brands in the past year. We’ve also seen targeted campaigns and content partnerships around beauty offers and further pushed this category over the line in terms of popularity and sales performance. This sector remains one of our key categories for our online sales as well.


Which products and brands are selling well?

Beauty is a category where we have traditionally seen many repeat purchases from our customers, especially for popular products.

In the past year however, we have also seen a rise in the popularity of beauty gadgets, perhaps due to the fact that consumers were spending more time indoors and were looking for ways to continue caring for their skin from home. Recognizing this trend, we launched our first-ever Tech Fair last year, where we highlighted a wide range of lifestyle tech devices for everyday use at home, from audio equipment for work calls or exercise sessions, to beauty devices for high-end skincare.


What takeaways do you have from operating in the crisis?

A key lesson is the importance of having a digital strategy and a robust omnichannel presence.

With a fully functioning e-commerce platform that supports engagement independent of a physical space, we’ve been able to help consumers recognize that they can still enjoy all the things they love most about KrisShop without traveling. This ability to diversify is more crucial than ever as we consider that even when things start to turn for the better, there is a good chance that consumption habits will continue to be dualistic, with formerly non-digital natives choosing to continue shopping online.

While we have always believed in a consumer-first approach, the challenges that COVID-19 brought once again reminded us of the need to keep our consumers at the heart of our business. This means regularly reviewing our business strategy to ensure that it caters to evolving consumer behavior and preferences. Keeping our finger on the shopper pulse has enabled us to engage consumers and meet them where they are.


What plans do you have to develop KrisShop, particularly for beauty?

We recognize that consumers’ needs will change with time, and we are always looking at new ways to bring new offerings and exciting campaigns to our customers. This year, KrisShop has planned a few key initiatives. These include The Private Room by KrisShop – private shopping curated exclusively for [loyalty membership program] PPS Club members. Emulating the spirit of the Singapore Airlines lounge and redefining luxury retail, the experience will provide a curation of best in class, luxury heritage brands or a unique artisanal find, on top of personalized touchpoints throughout the shopping journey, and a dedicated customer service support team.

Another is Inflight Entertainment Shopping. Together with Singapore Airlines, AirFree/Thales and Panasonic, KrisShop will soon enable e-shopping on the airline’s inflight entertainment system, KrisWorld. The initiative entails an industry-first air-to-ground connectivity technology, which will allow KrisShop to achieve real-time updates of pricing and stock availability, and enable passengers to shop inflight and have their purchases delivered directly to their next flight or straight to their homes.

A third initiative is Gift Personalization. KrisShop launched a gift wrapping service last December, which allows consumers to have their purchases gift-wrapped with a customized greeting card included. This year, we will allow customers to personalize their purchases by engraving customized messages on the items. Lastly, in collaboration with [Singapore Airlines’ low-cost airline] Scoot, KrisShop will soon be available on the airline’s new one-stop inflight portal for travelers, ScootHub. Launched with the aim of minimizing interaction on board flights, customers will be able to shop from a curated list of duty-free items from KrisShop, including travel essentials and beauty products from the convenience of their own device. Passengers can pay for their purchases via credit card and receive their items during their Scoot flight.


What is the outlook for e-commerce in travel retail?

E-commerce will continue to be a big area of focus for all travel-retail players. The future of inflight travel retail will be two-pronged: Retailers must reintroduce a safely-redesigned inflight customer experience as travel bans begin to lift this year, while simultaneously advancing their e-commerce strategies to strengthen their omnichannel sales platforms with multiple fulfilment options to cater to both traveling and non-traveling consumers.

For KrisShop, we are adopting an integrated approach, where e-commerce and inflight fulfilment will go hand-in-hand. For instance, customers can currently shop on KrisShop up to 60 minutes before their scheduled flight, and have their items delivered directly to their seat on the aircraft. With the launch of the Inflight Entertainment Shopping, we’re closing the gap by allowing customers to shop inflight and have their purchases delivered directly to their homes, or to their connecting flight.

In addition to this, it will also be vital for retailers to adopt an active approach to reviewing their product assortment to get an edge over competitors, bearing in mind that consumer behavior will shift yet again when travel makes a comeback.