Retail Therapy the Virgin Atlantic way
Is there anything more delightfully indulgent than a spot of shopping above the clouds?
Duty Free shopping has something of the old-world glamour of travel about it. Perusing a range of goods carefully curated with you in mind. Deliberating on your choices, maybe getting advice from our cabin crew experts. Discovering something unavailable anywhere else in (or above) the world. Plus, knowing that what you're getting is a proper bargain. What's not to like.
But what goes into choosing and delivering our bespoke Retail Therapy onboard shopping range? To find out, we caught up with Colette Whyte, our Manager - Inflight Services Ancillaries, to delve into the wonderful world of duty free.
Our duty free range, or Retail Therapy to give it its proper name, is updated twice a year, and the new autumn/winter collection is available onboard from the 1st of October. Within the range there is a total of 502 items to choose from, with 108 being available inflight and the remainder being available online as pre-order ahead of flight or inflight for return journey, or home delivery. it's just as well that you're on a long-haul flight and you've got plenty of time to browse.
Colette's search to bring you the very best shopping experience in the sky begins months earlier in industry forums such as at the annual Duty-Free suppliers conference in Cannes, the TFWA. I's a showcase where suppliers meet with airlines, airport shops and cruise lines to present their goods and upcoming new product lines exclusive to travel retail. That's just for starters though. Colette also likes to source and work with interesting brands and smaller suppliers who might not feature on other airlines. This gets their products out to a broader international audience, ensure they match our brand values and gives a greater choice for our customers.
"Our Retail Therapy selection is the result of keeping a very close eye on what our customers are buying, what’s happening with high street retail and trends, then being aware of what's available and what's right for our range", says Colette. "We have things we know our customers want, and traditional duty-free items, such as spirits, tobacco and perfume, but then there are gifts and items that you won't find anywhere else other than onboard a Virgin Atlantic flight."
It all sounds very glamourous with meetings in the South of France, mingling with premier brands, and hanging out with our cabin crew. However, Colette also spends a lot of time poring over spreadsheets. In conjunction with our inflight retail provider, 3Sixty, theyare constantly learning about our customers, what they like, what isn't selling and the different shopping patterns on different flights and to different destinations. By doing this, there's a much better chance that what you want will be available on your flight, even given the space and weight constraints of loading on the aircraft. "We work closely with our cabin crew to really understand our customers and what their needs are," said Colette. "Plus, we are smaller and more agile than some of the bigger airlines, which means we can bring a smaller run of more exclusive and bespoke products onboard, which our customers love."
Just about everything in the Retail Therapy range can either be a thoughtful gift or a treat to pamper yourself. You'll find bestsellers and new trends such as body positive skincare and beauty products and organic holiday essentials such as Tan Organic and Toddle Born Wild for kids . There really is something for everyone.. We've not forgotten our youngest customers either with some great toys and, for the aviation enthusiast, a few Virgin Atlantic branded goods including our very own Barbie pilot and cabin crew and Lego aircraft set.
Here are a few of the highlights from our Autumn Winter Retail Therapy range-
Fly red, buy green
As you'd expect, sustainability is high on Colette's agenda. Our suppliers have tough targets to reduce packaging and, where possible, single use plastic, and Colette has even taken on some of the big brands, asking them to reduce their packaging even when it forms part of their brand identity.
We have also removed all single use plastic bags, our RT magazine is made from 100% recycled paper and PEFC certified and we reduced our onboard stock holding to best selling lines for purposeful fuel efficiency. It's a constant focus on being more efficient, keeping the range as light as possible and keeping landfill to a minimum
The range of products also includes many natural and sustainably produced items to help your responsible shopping ambitions. Colette is particularly proud of the Baltic sea bracelet, crafted from recycled fishing nets retrieved from the ocean. A real statement piece with top environmental credentials.
And should you want to have something to drink after you land, there's an organic, sustainable and delicious Bottega prosecco among the range of expected and unexpected drinks to choose from. There are also items like a reusable travel water bottle or Scottish made True Connect earbuds - high-quality items that will last for years.
Virgin Atlantic exclusives
As always, there are some exceptional exclusive items onboard for October. Martin James is a London based jeweller who started out specialising in vintage and retro designs. Onboard we have his gorgeous but affordable necklace, earrings, and bangle set that will add a sparkle to any occasion, day or night.
he beautiful and stylish travel-inspired charm bracelet by Clogau for those wishing to show off their travel credentials. A great gift, containing rare Welsh gold and perfect for the globetrotter in your life (which might just so happen to be you).
One product that Colette is particularly pleased to have onboard is War Paint - make up for men. Like all the best products, it has a great back story. Started by Danny Gray, who, because of being bullied at school, developed body dysmorphia. To cover his teenage acne, Danny borrowed his sister's makeup, something he says changed his life forever and gave him the idea to start his own range. The brand has since gone global, and we're super proud to be the first airline to have the products available as part of our pre-order range as a Virgin exclusive From spot concealer to all over natural coverage, it's about time men's make-up hit the mainstream. Read more about Danny's story on the War Paint website.
Buy before you fly
One of the great things about our Retail Therapy range is that you don't have to wait until you fly to browse the selection.
Just visit our Retail Therapy website, where you can find special offers, check your allowances, and learn about our airport price match guarantee. You can even order your duty free to be delivered to your return flight to save carrying it around. There are also a number of specially selected products at tax free equivalent prices that can be delivered to your home, without the need to leave the ground. And of course, you can also order on your outbound flight for collection on your return flight.
Press For Bubbles
Knowing that Virgin is renowned for our reputation to “surprise and delight”, Colette is often looking for ways to enhance the experience for our customers particularly when they have an important celebration. Whether that is looking to source a well known champagne or other celebratory products, it never stops!
To find out more about our Retail Therapy range visit retailtherapyshopping.com