September 17 2018  |  Tech & Hardware

French duty free sales startup plans launch in 2019

By Rick Lundstrom

The airfare platform is designed for mobile commerce as well as electronic commerce

The French startup airfree, creator of an inflight marketplace for duty-free products, has been selected by Starburst, a mentoring and consulting firm, to be a part of a one-year program.

The goal for the partners is to have commercial launch in 2019 and Series A fundraising.

airfree has developed an e-commerce and mobile-commerce platform that uses a comprehensive offer to boost sales for duty-free airport retailers and increase revenue for companies using a turnkey solution controlling satellite connection costs, and introducing a simple and optimized user experience for passengers.

With airfree, airlines can offer passengers a premium service via their web portal (the airfree platform is white label). This allows for enhanced control and use of customer data, with a product catalog that can have anywhere from 200 to more than 10,000 references as way for airlines to recoup investments made to equip the aircraft with Wi-Fi connectivity. airfree takes care of negotiating and contracting with sellers, securing online payment, content demonstration and customer relationship management integration.

Passengers access the service by connecting in-flight via the on-line portal or their airline’s app. From there, they can access all the merchandise available from the duty-free stores in transit and at their destination airport. They can then collect their purchases upon landing on a click and collect basis. The catalog is stocked with reference to each passenger’s travel itinerary. This real-time stock management assures there won’t be any disappointments.

This month, airfree will launch Starburst’s acceleration program, which supports approximately 30 startups around the world annually, specializing in aviation, aerospace, and defense. The Starburst ecosystem connects startups to a network of industrial partners in the sector (Thales, Panasonic, Boeing, Raytheon, Safran, and many others) but also airlines (Lufthansa, United) as well as investment funds. The goal of the program is to secure their first large-scale contracts and raise Series A funds.

“Our selection committee, formed of industrial partners and investors, was convinced by the airfree team, which, with its innovative marketplace, shows a perfect understanding of the issues facing airlines and the players in travel retail,” states François Chopard, founder of Starburst Accelerator. “Since our creation in 2012, our goal has been to nurture these Aerospace seeds with our partners. A hundred startups have gone through our program and are now shining in the global market.”

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