In this month’s One-on-One blog, ExpertFlyer talks with Kevin Weiss, the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Xhibit Corp., as of May 2013, after the merger of SkyMall and Xhibit Corp. We talked to Kevin about his new role and what his plans are – particularly over the holiday season – for the company’s famous inflight catalog, SkyMall. The popular publication is distributed in airplane seat pockets and seen by approximately 650 million air travelers annually – that’s nearly 88% of all domestic air passengers.
Founded in 1990, SkyMall is known for offering a unique curation of over 30,000 products for the Home, Health, Pets, Office, Fashion, Gifts and more. Skymall is giving all ExpertFlyer Facebook fans a special 20% discount through 12/31/13 when they enter ExpertFlyer’s Facebook Contest Giveaway here: http://a.pgtb.me/DzK6vt.
“SkyMall is more than just a catalog in the airline seat pocket.”
— Kevin Weiss, CEO, Xhibit Corp.
Congratulations on your new role as Xhibit and SkyMall’s Chief Executive Officer. Can you talk a little bit about the merger and how it will affect SkyMall, as well as how the catalog is evolving, especially in today’s digitally-oriented marketplace? Is SkyMall’s niche simply tied to its unique distribution advantage or is there more?
Let me answer the last question first. SkyMall’s niche is really about cool products. Many of the products are quirky and innovative. The thing that I like about the collection it that it is generally merchandise that people don’t normally think about.
When we think about the shift taking place to digitally-oriented marketplaces, we get very excited. Today, over 80% of our sales take place on our newly-implemented website. The merger with Xhibit will enable us to enhance our new platform that we launched in September with video, games and apps for smart phones. All of this is being done to enhance the customer’s shopping and buying experience. While we continue to see great value in our in-flight printed catalog, we believe that the explosion of Wi-Fi on planes will create even more buying opportunities for fliers. As an added bonus, several airlines now allow passengers to go to SkyMall.com without being charged a Wi-Fi access fee.
Who are your best customers – who is purchasing from SkyMall on a regular basis and now that Wi-Fi is allowed inflight how will that impact sales when SkyMall customers can easily access online competitors, like Amazon.com and other Internet retailers?
Our best customers are frequent travelers who adapt well to new technology and enjoy unique products.
As I said before, we see in-flight Wi-Fi as a great benefit to our business. If you think about the “olden days,” people had to see the catalog in-flight, decide they wanted to buy something, either take the catalog with them or write down the item, get to their destination, remember that they were interested in a cool product, and THEN either call us or go online to buy it. Today, with the Wi-Fi on the plane, we’re just a click away. It really has made it much easier for customers to place orders with us.
In general, what type of products do people seem to buy more of from SkyMall?
Best selling products change based on the time of year. Right now, the NFL Wine Shoe Holders are a hot item.
How does SkyMall’s pricing compare to online outlets and stores?
SkyMall has a Price Guarantee. Everything at SkyMall is offered at the same prices you’d find in the original manufacturer’s catalog. There’s no additional markup.
The holidays are upon us again, what will be your top-selling items this Christmas and Hanukkah?
Once again the SkyMall Holiday Catalog is full of great holiday ideas for decorating, entertaining and gift giving! Some of the early favorites include My Adventures Books, the sippy wine glass and Campus Letter Art. Have you seen the Harry Potter Remote Control Wand? Another great SkyMall gift for someone who has ALMOST everything!
Can you give our readers some tips on how to shop SkyMall and any special deals or promotions they can take advantage of in time for the gift-giving season?
The best way to know what’s going on at SkyMall is to subscribe to our exclusive SkyMall Offers email at SkyMall.com. We are also happy to offer all ExpertFlyer Facebook fans a special 20% discount through 12/31/13 when they enter ExpertFlyer’s Facebook Contest Giveaway here: http://a.pgtb.me/DzK6vt. Unique coupon code and link will be visible upon entering the sweepstakes.
Starting 11/15/13 through 12/9/13, we are running a 25 Days of Cool Giveaways sweepstakes where we are giving a cool product away every day and a grand prize $1,000 SkyMall Shopping Spree. Participants can enter at skymall.com/25Days.
What’s your vision for SkyMall over the next 3-5 years? Any pivotal changes on the horizon? How is mobile and social media playing a part in SkyMall’s marketing and customer service efforts?
Our new website was the first real change we have made in a few years. It is already serving our customers and partners well. We are now in the process of designing new apps that will run across most smart phones. We want to make the interaction with SkyMall fun and rewarding. As we expand our marketing reach, you will see us invest in video and image recognition technology to allow customers to interact with the catalog through their smart phones – even down to the purchase of products. Finally, you should expect us to seek opportunities for international expansion. It is a very exciting time to be at SkyMall.