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Israeli app lets travelers deep-dive duty free pricing

Not all duty-frees are created equal – and Israeli app Shopnfly helps users figure out where the bargains are

Ben Gurion airport's Duty-Free mall (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
Ben Gurion airport's Duty-Free mall (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Vacation season means duty-free shopping season for many Israelis, but shopping the the duty-free stores for liquor, perfume, and candy is an activity fraught with uncertainty. Is it better to buy at “home,” in a foreign airport, or on-board a flight? Is buying duty-free really cheaper than buying locally?

An Israeli app called Shopnfly seeks to clarify those questions by bringing travelers specific price, purchase, and delivery information on specific products – all in an easy to use app. As vacation season goes into high gear, Shopnfly announced last week that it was partnering with El Al to provide flyers with an in-flight shopping experience that can save them money, and put them in touch with many more products than they can get from any specific airline’s duty-free in-flight catalog.

Under the deal, EL AL passengers, as well as other travelers who use shopnfly.com or the free app available at the site, will be able to search for and buy thousands of products from airport and in-flight duty-free providers, as well as from local retailers. Those products can come from El Al itself, or from other airlines or duty free shops where this has been implemented. Currently, shopnfly is in use at nearly 50 airports, mostly in Europe.

Sometimes, the same products sold at the same airport by different stores have different prices, and often there is a price differential between duty-free shops and in-flight kiosks on a variety of products. Shopnfly shows these price differences, allowing users to order products from specific sources – and during this process, they will also be able to choose from various pick-up locations, such as at the duty-free store at their arrival destination, on their El Al flight, or at their destination hotel, depending on the product provider.

To find a bargain, users type in the name of a product or product category in the search box, and Shopnfly connects to its price database, presenting the different options. For example, a bottle of Jack Daniels “black label,” according to Shopnfly, costs 38.33 euros at Heathrow Airport – but is only 31.91 euros in-flight on El Al. “Shopnfly makes it easier for travelers both to save time and money, and to access a wider range of products, while enjoying a truly convenient and user-friendly shopping experience,” said company CEO Guy Gaash.

Shopnfly was a charter member of the new Cockpit accelerator program sponsored by El Al to support aviation and tourism start-ups.

Cockpit is the first accelerator to focus specifically on the travel industry, said Henry Chen Weinstein, the newly-appointed director of the organization. “We at Cockpit understand both the opportunities in the airline industry, as well as its special nuances. Members of the accelerator will be able to concentrate on growing their technology and business. Together we will, I believe, achieve real breakthroughs in the industry.”

David Maimon, El Al CEO said that “Innovation and entrepreneurship are important leaders for, and the tremendous momentum of high-tech in the areas of aviation and tourism provides us with an opportunity to harness our organization for innovation, helping young companies to forge ahead in the field we understand well, and helping them take off in the world market. It’s only natural that the airline of the Start-Up Nation will help start-ups in Israel.”

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