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How to get your store ready for the Olympics

Last updated on July 15, 2024

The Olympic Games, which is one of the biggest sporting events in the world, is coming to Europe on 26th July and with it, millions of visitors from all over the world.  

For retailers, particularly those in France and neighbouring countries, as we approach the event this is the perfect time to check your stores’ payment processes to make them as visitor friendly as possible.

Why get your store ready for the Olympics?

The Olympics draws in huge crowds to their destinations from across the host country and the rest of the world. The Paris Olympics is set to see visitors from 178 countries with over a million tickets sold so far to people outside of France. 

So why does this increased footfall require a store check?

International spend is already on the up

Planet’s 2024 Intelligence Report found that international spend in stores has already been on the rise since the start of 2024, with January seeing a 14% year-on-year increase then reaching a 33% increase in February. With a strong start already, the Olympics will only see these numbers climb higher.

This Q1 rise can be attributed to China’s relaxation of international travel restrictions at the end of 2023. Its shoppers couldn’t wait to get overseas for Chinese New Year, which resulted in 19% of all sales in February coming from them. However, while Chinese shoppers overtook US visitors in spending during February, the latter were still close behind and then resumed their usual top position in March.

It’s also worth noting that for those who typically travel and spend the most when abroad (shoppers from China, US and UK), the average transaction value (ATV) was between €1100-1300 in Q1 2024.

Despite current economic uncertainties, travel and tourism is still very much on the agenda for many across the world, especially with sporting events scheduled giving more reason to head abroad. The average ATV multiplied by these increased visitors means a lot of revenue is at stake.


Olympic Facts
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Luxury spending is increasing

The Luxury Goods market is a significant segment, particularly in Europe where the revenue generated is set to total $115.6bn in 2024 and experience an annual growth rate of 3.57% CAGR between 2024-2028.

Speaking on this, Burberry’s 2022 annual report supports this forecast by stating that its stores saw positive growth by 27% and noted Europe’s luxury market had seen over 50% more tourist spend from intra- and extra-regional visitors. In fact, for 2023/24, the British brand is looking to increase store productivity to £25,000 per square metre per annum with an overall goal to “supercharge customer focus”.

Additionally with particularly strong CNY to EUR FX rates in recent months, more wealthier Chinese shoppers are visiting Europe to get their luxury goods at Tax Free rates. In Q1 2024, Planet found that the average transaction value for Chinese shoppers in France was €1,866 and that they made up 45.3% of sales in store. Meanwhile, in Portugal, their average transaction value came to €2,238.

All together this shows that with the freedom to travel, Mainland Chinese tourists are ready to spend and Luxury Goods seems to be at the top of their list.

Better operational efficiency for better experiences 

Getting your store as operationally efficient as possible means staff are able to provide top service and experience to your customers even as footfall spikes. They won’t be trying to manage a complex payment system requiring multiple devices and systems. And for customers, it means they can choose to pay in their preferred method - whether it’s via a country-specific wallet like AliPay or using a credit card in their own currency - simply and quickly.

As a slick and harmonious customer experience has become a standard expectation, getting your store’s payment tech is crucial for seeing a higher turnover of customers plus potentially more spend without compromising on customer service.

Additionally, better customer service can help contribute to a greater total spend per customer. With more time to attend to customers more personally, customers are likely to spend longer in store, find more products they like and ultimately buy more.

Getting your payments process ready for the Olympics

There are multiple areas that make up a smooth and easy payments process, whether it’s for overseas shoppers or domestic ones visiting. With increased foot traffic and attention on your brand, we suggest you check that all the following areas are efficient, simple and effective for your staff and customers. 

Tax Free shopping

Tax Free shopping is one of the biggest draws for overseas shoppers to spend their earnings. Knowing they’ll get some money back in their account once they’re home or even better, getting money off at the till point makes higher spends more enticing. However, the Tax Free process can often be confusing and painstakingly long to complete.

Check through these steps of Tax Free and review how you’re currently navigating them:

  1. Eligibility requirements and recognition
  2. Completing the Tax Free form 
  3. Handling personal data and payment information 
  4. Management of the tax deduction for the customer
  5. Safeguarding your own revenue until the VAT refund is completed

Local currency and language 
Something as simple as having a payment device use the customer’s local currency and own language can help to ease any confusion or doubts about payment. It allows them to know how much they’re about to spend in their home currency meaning the total figure is in better context and relatable. Using their local language for instructions also means the entire process feels familiar and, as a result, more secure to them.

Some things to consider for your current set up:

- How do you change the language settings? 
- How many different currencies are offered in store for payment? 
- Who makes up your typical and seasonal shoppers? Do you cater for them currently?

Different payment methods 
The preference for a payment method varies widely country to country, and generation to generation. While for some the traditional credit and debit cards are their go-to, others prefer online wallets. And within the realm of wallets, there are now multiple to choose from.

Similar to enabling local currency and language, the ability to pay in store in different ways helps customers feel more at ease with the process making for a better customer experience. Ensuring your store offers a variety of ways to pay means no one is excluded and reduces any second guessing on whether or not to make the purchase.

How Planet can help get your store ready this summer

With the games coming, your store is likely to see not only a sharp increase in the number of customers but also their nationalities. With this change, you’ll hopefully also see a similar trend for your revenue figures. However, to make the most of the events and all the visitors to come, keeping your payments process quick, easy and clear is key. Here’s how Planet can help.

Smooth Tax Free shopping

Planet understands how complex Tax Free completion can be with the multiple checks and forms, while also needing to ensure that your revenue and profit aren’t at risk. This is why we’ve rapidly simplified the entire process from end-to-end.

Planet’s solution helps staff with a straightforward journey that needs minimal training and just a  single device with automated prompts. In turn, spending for customers is much more enticing if their Tax Free journey is completed quickly and securely.

What is Planet’s Tax Free solution?

Planet’s Tax Free solution starts by recognising those eligible for tax savings once they’ve put in their credit card and issues a prompt. By looking at the card’s issuing country, Planet’s device is able to kickstart the step by step journey seamlessly, which includes country-specific tax free forms and the items needed to be completed. There is also a built-in scanner to autofill data from a passport or other ID onto the form itself.

Additionally, to finish there are multiple options to choose from when it comes to the customer receiving their VAT refund; either at the point of sale or once their form has been validated. In whichever case, your revenue is secured until all checks have been made and items declared at a customer’s home country.

Making it local and tailored

To help close the sale, Planet’s payment tech provides choice and options to customers. This comes in the form of 10 languages, 10 currencies and 10 different ways to pay.

Language and currency can either be manually selected or again, automatically prompted as an option once a payment preference has been made. This means customers from anywhere in the world are able to pay with full confidence and understanding on their visit.

Additionally by offering a variety of payment methods including those specific to their home country, you’re effortlessly providing flexibility and convenience making for a superior customer experience.

Only one device is needed 

To save time, confusion and long wait times, Planet has designed a single device that can complete all the above while feeding into your overall payments system for simple end of day reconciliation.

Instead of having five different devices and a variety of input methods that are open to human error, payments with Planet are truly frictionless as everything takes place on one device with one interface - including Tax Free.

Planet’s device includes a camera that scans data from passports for easy, automated form completion. It is also connected to Planet’s Shopper Portal, tokenises card data for secure VAT refund and supports 4G or WiFi connectivity.

It’s the piece of equipment that will elevate your store’s efficiency, customer service and security.

Final words 

The summer of 2024 serves as a big opportunity for retail to hit new revenue figures that will beat those pre-pandemic. While footfall and visitors will increase, it’s important to get your store’s processes finessed so that your team is able to welcome and meet the needs of your overseas customers - and ultimately see a share of their wallet.

A swift payment process is key, especially for the Tax Free portion that can be clunky and time consuming. Planet’s payment solution makes this swift, automated and easy to complete with a simple UI and clear prompts.

Additionally, catering to more nationalities requires greater options and choice. Including different currencies and languages in your payments effortlessly builds trust and loyalty as your customer feels secure and on familiar territory during the process.

As tourism is due to increase especially by those with deeper pockets, get your store in its best state to welcome them. 

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