Gebr Heinemann

A new home delivery concept for airlines

With inflight retail hard hit last year, Gebr Heinemann’s Inflight & Catering sales division used the crisis to design a new home delivery project for its airline customers. In the company’s annual report, Director Sales Inflight & Catering John Baumgartner said: “We designed a pragmatic solution where the airline or the retailer onboard the airline will act as the front end interface to the customer while we will fulfil the order.” The airline or concessionaire assigns an assortment from Gebr Heinemann to its own web shop. There the passenger places an order either before or during the flight and flight confirmation is checked. All orders are digitally transferred from the web shop to Gebr Heinemann. The logistics team then picks, packs and ships everything to the traveller’s home address. This way, said Heinemann, it gains direct access to the air passengers and can do targeted marketing. To begin with, Gebr Heinemann will ship to addresses in Germany only but is looking to expand this within Europe. Baumgartner says: “Selling through an airline’s or concessionaire’s web shop enables us to offer a much bigger assortment for the passenger to choose from than in a catalogue – and there are no production or printing costs. There is no tied-up capital in articles loaded in trolleys or stored at warehouses across Europe, to bring on board when needed.” He added that there are no limitations on weight or size of the items like there would be on the duty free trolley. Onboard direct sales will remain an “impulse business” while the home delivery option enables travellers to choose from a wider offer and plan their purchases.

How Heinemann presented several of its new business solutions in its Annual Report for 2020

Baumgartner added: “As it stands, onboard retail with its complex logistics and limited shopping experience – due to trolley sales and catalogues – is rather static and not profitable enough. How can we still offer brands and products to passengers, but be efficient at the same time? The home delivery project is one answer that goes in this direction. Already many see the airlines as a key partner in driving sales in the future. Airlines and travel agents have the most valuable information at their disposal – the data of the passenger’s journey. When you get access to such data, you can become a more proactive retailer. This is a critical parameter which we as Gebr Heinemann must take a lead in to develop our airline business and our total travel retail business in the future.” On the bigger picture for the airline business, COO Raoul Spanger added: “In the past, while we were supplying airlines or were partners with the airport, nobody would agree to give up margin to create a new business model. Now I see more of a chance to do this. We have identified that as long as inflight sales are there we will be part of this business. We see some chances here.”

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The Moodie Davitt eZine Issue 297 | 21 June 2021

The Moodie Davitt eZine is published 15 times per year by The Moodie Davitt Report (Moodie International Ltd). © All material is copyright and cannot be reproduced without the permission of the Publisher. To find out more visit and to subscribe, please e-mail

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