French sporting chain store Decathlon has opened its first physical presence in Singapore with an interesting digital twist, down at Kim Yan Road.
The process is a little confusing — while you can browse the various sporting products they have on display; from yoga mats to hiking boots to trampolines, there is no cashier, just giant computers in every corner. There are also desks set up in each section of the store, where staff are busy working on their computers, but would be happy to leave their desks to talk you through their latest products on sale.
What is going on here?
We’ve written about click-and-mortar businesses at Vulcan Post, mainly Zalora’s newest pop-up store at ION, where you can browse their latest clothing lines, do a self check-out and have the clothes delivered to your store. The Decathlon eXperience follows a similar concept, but with much more options. It is Decathlon’s newest experiential zone that follows a concept that Bastion Grandgeorge, Managing Director of Decathlon Singapore and Indonesia, calls an “omni-channel business”. With 65 sports and 13,000 product references under its belt, it has been operating in Singapore solely from its online website for 2 years. Now, it has expanded into its new physical space, without losing its digital roots.
With sporting products, the feel of the products is especially important, and with the 7,000 sq ft space, you have the freedom to try out any equipment you’d like. Once you’ve decided on something, you can buy it on the spot from several desktop computers set up for you to access their Decathlon online site. You then make payment through the site and bring the product home, or arrange for delivery of the product to your home. Or, you can think about it, and when you’ve made up your mind, head online to buy it from the site any time you like. Or even do your shopping online, and arrange to pick it up at the space itself!
That’s not all. The desks that I mentioned before belong to brand managers, whose desks are stationed right in the middle of the experiential zone, to be as close as possible. One brand manager I spoke to says that the space is her office, placing her exactly where she is needed. After all, who better to talk about the products than the people in charge of bringing the products in! Executives are placed as close to the products as possible as well, and with a tilt of your head, you can pan from the latest bikes on sale to Decathlon’s operational team.
According to Grandgeorge, this is Decathlon’s first attempt at the new concept, and they chose to implement it in Singapore first because it is a very tech savvy space. Decathlon first launched two years ago with its online store, and after some time they saw some interest in seeing the product in real life, and created the Decathlon eXperience to meet this demand.
If the concept takes off, Decathlon has stated its intention to open several more locations of its kind, and hopefully bring it out to the other 22 countries that it is also in. In fact, Grandgeorge believes that click-and-mortar could be the future of consumers’ shopping experiences.
“Especially in Southeast Asia and especially in Singapore, we know that if only the retail business was possible 10 years ago, it’s not possible today,” said Grandgeorge during the official launch of its experiential space. “We know that in the next 10 years, we must merge digital business and physical business. Here, this first concept, is the perfect example of what we want to do.”
Decathlon is already popular in Europe for its innovative products, and owns the third largest R&D facility. According to Grandgeorge, they create 1,000 new innovative products a year, though obviously not all become successful. Some notable products are the 2 second pop up tent by Quechua, a brand under them, and the Rollout 600, a portable table tennis net that lets you play it anywhere and on anything you want.
Story: Vulcan Post