Decathlon turns stores into fulfillment centers

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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The world’s largest sporting goods retailer is keeping its U.S. stores in the game during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Based in France, Decathlon operates three U.S. brick-and-mortar stores in the Bay Area of California. After closing its stores in the wake of the COVID-19 health crisis, Decathlon saw a spike in its e-commerce business as more consumers shopped for sports equipment and apparel for at-home use. However, production disruptions in China put a strain on warehouse supply, while its stores in the U.S. were filled with unsold merchandise.

Already running its U.S. stores on the cloud-based NewStore mobile store operations platform, Decathlon worked with the technology provider to accelerate the launch of store fulfillment and curbside pickup capabilities so it could leverage its stores to support e-commerce sales. Decathlon can move inventory to meet demand, and brick-and-mortar locations are staffed with a limited number of associates who pick, pack and ship store inventory directly to customers using the NewStore fulfillment & inventory iPhone app.

It took two weeks for Decathlon to roll out the new store fulfillment system. Now, customers can call ahead or place an order online and drive up to the store and interact with associates. The retailer utilizes NewStore mobile checkout as a way to take payment phone-to-phone, without any human contact, and also accepts Apple Pay and Google Pay through some mobile Verifone terminals. Receipts are transmitted via email.

To manage inventory, Decathlon has robots take constant inventory throughout its stores using RFID technology. The robot sends that data back to the omnichannel fulfillment manager in the store, ensuring that inventory is accurate on retail floors, the Decathlon e-commerce site and its warehouse. This enables retailers to have automatic replenishment data sent back to its stores to make sure that shelves are always fully stocked with inventory. 

“Customers are able to converse with an associate, bring some normalcy back to their lives, maybe ask a question about a product, and drive home with their purchase the same day,” said Ashley Benson, senior product manager, Decathlon USA. “Customers have really been delighted to be able to do this, and like I said, bring some normalcy back into their lives during a kind of scary and uncertain time.”