Website of the Week: DFS 14/02/08

The home page is designed to underscore DFS Group’s positioning as a luxury retailer

INTERNATIONAL. This week DFS Group, the world’s leading airport luxury retailer, unveiled its revamped website.

The new-look site is one of the most ambitious web developments seen in the travel retail channel – and arguably the most stylish. It features an enhanced product offering, dominated by an impressive array of premium and luxury brands, underpinned by chic new design, updated graphics, and international fashion imagery.

Content is presented in four languages – English, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese – with pricing reflected in local retail currency.

The site also features Google Maps for store locations and directions and a partnership with LUXE City Guides provides detailed travel information on DFS destinations. All good touches.

Website of the Week
DFS Galleria
Content (0-4):
Pricing (0-2):
Navigation (0-4):
Style and Design (0-4):
Extra information (0-2):
Overall incentive to shop (0-4):
Total (0-20):
Scoring system explained – click here

But the key new feature is (or will be once fully rolled out) an online Client Reservation System. This service allows potential customers to browse a range of merchandise and then reserve items from their computer. It’s not full pre-order as such (the customer pays upon pick-up) but it’s an important step in that direction.

“This gives our clients the convenience of knowing the items they have selected will be waiting for them when they arrive at their destination,” says DFS. Clients can then pick up their merchandise and complete their transaction at the designated location within a specific time period. The Client Reservation System function is first being introduced in Hawaii, Guam, and Okinawa. Other DFS divisions will follow.

The company says its technological, merchandising and creative teams all worked closely to bring travel retail consumers an exciting website that’s easy to navigate, brimming with customer services and rich with luxury brands.

The Moodie Report Website Review team put those claims to the test. Our Singapore team – Asia Bureau Chief Melody Ng (Chinese speaker) and Research & Analysis Manager Justin Lee (Chinese and Japanese) tested the site in those languages and Publisher Martin Moodie examined the English version.


Note the positioning statement on the home page – “˜DFS is the world’s leading luxury retailer catering to the traveling public’. It’s a subtle but critical shift from the traditional “˜DFS Group is the world’s largest travel retailer’ introduction that used to accompany group statements.

The retailer’s inexorable march upmarket was emphatically illustrated by the recent 2007 results of majority shareholder LVMH, when it was revealed that some 80% of DFS sales are now generated by luxury items.
The home page oozes that luxury focus.

The site has multi-national, multi-category and multi-brand appeal

It’s a classy entree, dominated by a strong visual for LVMH-owned Loewe, while three other images introduce the LUXE City Guides, Client Services and a banner for Chinese New Year which clicks through to information about various DFS services.

A drop down menu offers a choice of store details across 14 locations (including newly opened Vietnam and soon to open Macau), all available in the four languages mentioned earlier.


This is where DFS begins to distance itself from the crowd. The understated, elegant image of a shop assistant showing a handbag to a customer on the home page leads through to a page detailing the retailer’s Platinum Services Club. This is described as “˜an elite shopping experience for the distinguished world traveler’. The home page reference to “˜luxury retailer’ is never lost sight of.

Members are presented with a range of special offers, previews of the latest collections and invitations to exclusive DFS Galleria events. It’s more show than substance at this stage but the ambience is right on key.

Also featured here is DFS Galleria’s (complimentary) personal shopper service, its worldwide guarantee and a reference to a traditional DFS strength – multi-lingual sales staff (“˜We speak your language’).


During our virtual test drive, we checked out (or into) New Zealand (“˜An unforgettable experience in a setting of rare natural beauty’ – we couldn’t agree more -ED) and Singapore (“˜Shimmering and serene – traditional with a twist of cosmopolitan and cool’).

Both (as with all locations) highlight three choices under hotels, restaurants and nightlife, respectively. It’s all intended to give you a dash of flavour rather than be a definitive travel and leisure guide but it’s breezily done with a suitably adventurous, partly tongue-in-cheek tone. The images (Milford Sound for New Zealand, Chinatown for Singapore) are bright and colourful with beautiful reproduction.

So far so good”¦ now it’s down to the serious stuff – the store details, product offer, pricing and Client Reservation System.

From thumbnail images and pricepoints, the user then clicks through to a bigger visual and broader description


It’s early days for the site and The Moodie Report understands that further content and brands will be added to the site in coming weeks but it’s off to a promising – and certainly elegant – start. So let’s go shopping”¦.

Here we’ve chosen Hong Kong as our test drive route. So how do we get there? That’s simple enough, one click from the drop down location menu on the home page. We’ve quickly arrived “˜in-store’ to another similarly bold page dominated by big visual images for Bvlgari, Trésor and Bally. Each clicks through to the respective ranges, segmented where relevant by categories. Thumbnails, featuring pricing in Hong Kong Dollars, are enlarged with a click which takes the user through to a full product description.

Other than the featured brands, virtual shoppers can browse by category (wider in some locations than others) and brand.

Here we found one of the site’s few navigation shortcomings – unless you go into your location choice via the home page “˜Select by Destination’ choice, the excellent “˜Browse Store’ option (by brand and category) simply doesn’t appear.

Enter via the big “˜Store locations’ tag on the home page for example and you won’t get much further than red dots on a map, a list of addresses. Where has my “˜Browse Store’ option gone? An experienced web user will find their way around but the novice won’t. And shoppers aren’t always webbies. Easily fixed though.

Once you find the offer, it’s done well. There’s some great visual advertising (check out Hawaii liquor or Hong Kong watches, for example) and our long-time bugbears about travel retail websites – lack of product images, descriptions and pricing – simply don’t apply here.

Hawaii, Guam and Okinawa are the first test-beds for the Client Reservation System, which will soon be rolled out across all locations


And so to the much-anticipated Client Reservation System, currently available only on the Guam, Hawaii and Okinawa pages, but soon to be rolled out to other DFS locations.

It’s really too early to assess the effectiveness of the concept but once all locations are functional it should look pretty impressive.

We tried shopping – as an English speaker – in Hawaii and chose to buy, appropriately, some Maui Jim sunglasses. We tracked the length of the journey in clicks and counted 11. The shopper then instantly receives an e-mail confirmation of the reservation [The Moodie Report now has a pair of US$149 Maui Jim sunglasses waiting for us in Honolulu. All we need is the air ticket.]

Once we came to grips with the system it was straightforward enough. But that’s quite a lot of clicks. And there’s room to go astray. Navigation matters, more so with new users (who are easily frustrated) than regular web shoppers – a point many web developers ignore. Some subtle tweaking here will help.



– sleek and polished
– high-quality images as well as thumbnails that can be enlarged
– images in the travel guide are bright and colourful, and convey locations well

Content and usability

– retail pricing, product images and descriptions are clear and easily found
– the drop down menus are simple and effective
– The Client Reservation System is a nice innovation, though it’s currently limited to three locations. Some products are “˜not available for reservation at this time’ but this is the beginning of something useful and incremental.

Vietnam – DFS Group’s latest market entry – is elegantly portrayed

Multi-national appeal

According to The Moodie Report’s Singaporean team, the Chinese version of the website contains one of the most thorough translations they have seen. “This makes it a breeze for Chinese-speaking users to navigate,” notes Asia Bureau Chief Melody Ng. Even the English words on the images on the main brand pages (except Celine’s) have Chinese translations, she notes.

The drop-down menu that allows users to browse by brand includes most of the brand names’ Chinese equivalents.

She notes: “The importance of an effectively bi-lingual (and multi-lingual) website cannot be overstated given the growing number of Mainland Chinese and Taiwanese luxury consumers. It would be even better if the website could also incorporate Traditional Chinese, which is used officially in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau [Simplified Chinese, which the website features, is more prevalent in Mainland China and Singapore].” But of course DFS Group’s three key targets are the Mainland Chinese, the Japanese and the Koreans, all well catered for here.

Japanese and Chinese speaker Justin Lee likes the site too. He notes: “The DFS website positions itself as a truly global website – the non-English versions have exactly the same layout and textual content (translated word for word) as the English version in every section. While many similar websites in native languages, for example, cater to the local needs of their target audience, DFS caters to the needs of a diverse and multi-cultural audience.

“For example, a Japanese person visiting Hong Kong who is unfamiliar with English or Chinese can access the same information on DFS Galleria in the Japanese language while looking at the products priced in local currency. When he registers himself in the website in Japanese and when he clicks on the “˜Country’ box, that box does not indicate just “˜Japan’ or “˜Outside Japan’ as in many other localized Japanese websites but allows him to choose from a long list of countries.

Overall we like the site. Visually it is first rate. It plays an important role in showcasing the retailer, its positioning, stores and brands. It also begins to engage the consumer in an interactive way. We think, however, more could be done in that regard – the site is a little too detached in tone perhaps – but the foundations have been laid.

Your post will appear – once approved – in The Moodie Forum on our home page


Website of the Week: Air Canada – 07/02/08

Website of the Week: Peace Bridge Duty Free – 31/01/08

Website of the Week: Duty Free Express – 24/01/08

Website of the Week: SkyMall – 17/01/08

Website of the Week: Beirut Duty Free – 10/01/08

Food & Beverage The Magazine eZine