Brussels Airport: from brick-and-mortar retail to a modern digital marketplace

Brussels Airport: from brick-and-mortar retail to a modern digital marketplace

Client
Brussels Airport
Sector
Retail
Period
2018-2020

In mid-2018, Internet Architects was recruited by Brussels Airport to translate the ambitious targets for commercial revenue into a concept for a brand new online “Marketplace” that also had to digitally strengthen the existing retail activities at the airport.

Brussels Airport had tons of (in-house and external) market research, had a very good insight into the needs of its own passengers and had already done a lot of work on fine-tuning the optimal digital strategy. Where things got stuck, however, was the translation of all these insights and ideas into a first feasible implementation that took into account the limited logistical possibilities for the timely delivery of digital orders.

Given the very tight deadline for a first launch of the online Marketplace, Internet Architects opted for a 5-day design sprint with all internal stakeholders involved. With the results of this design sprint it was possible to identify a first workable “Minimum Viable Product” in a very short timeframe. After an intensive development process, the Brussels Airport Digital Marketplace went live in mid-2019, before moving seamlessly into a rhythm of continuous optimization, including the implementation of the loyalty program ENJOY.

Design sprint “Digital Marketplace”: from abstract idea to feasible implementation in a few weeks

The “design sprint” format was an ideal match to make an ambitious deadline with a concept that is both internally supported and operationally feasible. That is why we gathered internal experts with various expertise at Brussels Airport to think together about the ideal first version of their new Digital Marketplace.

On day 1, we gathered all existing ideas about improving the passenger customer experience at and around the airport. On day 2, these ideas were further fleshed out and tested against potential revenue streams and impact on existing partnerships with airlines, security personnel and store owners at the airport site.

This exercise resulted in a list of 49 ideas that Internet Architects presented to passengers at the airport to gauge their enthusiasm and willingness to adopt (“problem-solution fit”).

With this feedback from the end customer in hand, the five most viable ideas for a marketplace were selected on day 3 and further developed in groups into a complete customer journey. On day 4, this journey was tested against the reality of existing manpower and technology within the organization, to determine which investments the airport still had to make to realize the proposed service.

After another round of customer feedback, the scope of the “marketplace MVP” was finalized on day 5. Mission accomplished!

Loyalty program “ENJOY Brussels Airport”: a win-win for the passenger and the airport.

After the first launch, the marketplace was further expanded with a personalized loyalty program. After scanning their boarding pass, passengers are linked to all available services, such as renting a car, products from the various shops or a quick security check (“fast lane”). In this way, they collect bonus points with which they can later make purchases in the digital shop.

Thanks to this program, Brussels Airport can now communicate directly with passengers and at the same time collect interesting data about the behavior and preferences of the airport visitor, while the latter enjoys the benefits. Win win!

Agile development: the perfect symbiosis between customer, service designer and development team

In order to expand the marketplace and subsequently the associated loyalty program, a collaboration was set up between Brussels Airport, Internet Architects and the Ukrainian Hybris specialist EPAM. We followed the ‘agile way-of-working’ approach, whereby small pieces of functionality are delivered in intensive sprints of 3 weeks.

Internet Architects provided the conceptual structure and graphic design, and also facilitated consultation during the sprints between the various parties. This intensive rhythm was maintained until mid-2020, when Brussels Airport was forced to reduce its activities due to the COVID crisis.