Is Decathlon the Future of Sporting Goods Retail?
Like all retailers, sporting goods stores must also step up their game and adapt if they want to survive in the new era of omnichannel retail. We’ve all read about the digital transformations that are propelling brands like Lululemon, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Under Armour, Nike, Adidas, and REI, to name a few, to successfully increase their customer base and ultimately, sales.
After my visit to Decathlon Gràcia, the retailer’s newest store in Barcelona, it looks like the world’s largest sporting goods retailer is keeping up with the competition while still keeping in line with their commitment to making sport accessible to the greatest possible number of people. The store still retains its no-frills approach, but now offers all the omnichannel bells and whistles of its competitors. These innovations can be broken down into the introduction of in-store technology, omnichannel capabilities, personalization, and, yes, sustainability.
It is this combination of in-store technology, omnichannel capabilities, and personalization initiatives that lead to a better customer experience because of the exponential increase in flexibility it offers customers. Without a doubt, Decathlon is setting the standard for every sporting goods retailer, and here’s how.
Going Fully Omnichannel
The first big hurdle for retailers today is getting all the omnichannel capabilities right, and with Decathlon, it’s as if they’d always been there. Enterprise-wide RFID implementation enables inventory to move faster and with greater accuracy – so fulfillment is easier and more flexible than ever before.
In addition to Buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) capabilities, customers have a choice of delivery methods, including Home Delivery in as little as two hours; Click and Collect, which incorporates the collection of orders in store in 1 hour, free of charge; Delivery Comfort which applies to large-volume orders that require two people to take it to the delivery point; Delivery with Assembly; delivery to Collection Points located across the city center; and, of course, easy processing of Returns.
With omnichannel capabilities in place, Decathlon can now leverage in-store technologies and drive personalized retail with more events, experiential stores, and increased digital capabilities.
Creating a Hybrid Digital-Store Experience
Because the Decathlon Gràcia store resides an urban area and occupies only 700 m2, Decathlon puts only its best-selling products on display and now has “endless aisle” kiosks which let customers easily browse all products and their technical specifications. They can even place an order from the kiosk directly.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the row of self-checkout kiosks in the store, which are so fast it takes less than a minute to check out. Nowadays, this is an absolute must-have for any sporting goods retailers who want to significantly reduce pain points in the store.
But the store improvements are not just digital. In fact, the store has hired 25 new associates with sports expertise dedicated to giving advice on site. And this store also features a space large enough to host events, classes, and workshops which will be communicated at the store itself and through digital channels.
Speaking of digital channels, Decathlon’s mobile application, MyDecathlon, make the search process more relevant on an individualized basis, which promotes deeper personalization. The app itself allows customers to not only browse products, but also receive customized promotions, find local events and workshops, track purchases, and make returns.
Adding the Social Impact Factor (Sustainability)
Already, Decathlon Gràcia has LED technology that reduces electricity consumption by 65% along with more efficient climate (air conditioning) and water control systems. Decathlon’s strong commitment to sustainability also means it plans to obtain 100% of its cotton and its polyester from sustainable sources by 2021. With so many sports enjoyed outdoors, sports enthusiasts are more likely to appreciate and show loyalty to a business that meets their needs and helps them be more environmentally friendly at the same time.
The Bottom Line
Decathlon’s upgrades will allow the store to cater even more to the local community as more people use its application and engage with local events. In addition to its competitive product lines, Decathlon’s convenient customer experience sets a higher standard in sporting goods retail, making it the retailer to beat. Competitors will have to match this and find ways to differentiate themselves if they want to succeed.
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