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Inspiring more Singaporeans to lead active lifestyles

Guided by the purpose of making sports accessible to the many through innovative, sustainable and affordable products, Decathlon’s long term business outlook is looking fit.

 

Everyone has a generic, go-to store when looking to make a purchase. For homeware and lifestyle options, most make a beeline to Ikea. For everything from skincare and electronics to sportswear and luggage, many head to Mustafa Centre.

And for Singapore-style minimalist souvenirs, shoppers turn to local labels such as Supermama or Olewo.

Inarguably, for sporting goods such as bicycles, roller blades or even frisbees, most look no further than Decathlon.

 

Charting its active course

Five Experience stores. Seven Click & Collect outlets. An official online store. And an app offering a full range of products and mobile checkout at fingertips.

To say the French sporting goods retailer is reinventing the wheel when it comes to the retail of sporting goods is an understatement. 

Its virtual and physical launches in Singapore were made in 2013 and 2015 respectively. Yet it seems like only yesterday that there was a palpable buzz when it opened its flagship store in the Kallang area — with an indoor patch of land with four different surfaces to test running shoes, and even a robot that handles product inventory.

 

Expansion around Singapore

 

Since then, Decathlon has expanded its footprint quickly, Covid-19 notwithstanding.

Despite the pandemic, the retailer has opened its newest Experience store — the 3,200 sqm Decathlon Orchard — as the anchor tenant of The Centrepoint. This is its first store along the Orchard Road shopping belt.

This strategic move is said to be part of Frasers Property Retail’s vision to create immersive retail experiences for shoppers, while reshaping the Somerset precinct into a vibrant and active lifestyle destination.

Shoppers will find the brand’s extensive range of products there, along with exciting new concepts.

For instance, the store has a set-up of virtual reality camping tents that enable customers to try out Virtual Reality (VR) goggles to glean a sense of being fully immersed in a virtual outdoor environment. 

As part of a revolutionary shopping experience, they can ‘test’ tents for size, shape and suitability, and imagine what it’s like to be in the great outdoors by day or under the stars. All this — without setting up an actual tent.  

 

Elevating the shopping experience for the whole family

 

 

Decathlon has also opened two Click & Collect stores in 2020, namely Decathlon Tampines in February and Decathlon Tiong Bahru in July.

Designed to extend its market reach, such stores allow shoppers to make purchases online and pick up their items from their preferred store for free in just two hours. This allows for effortless digital shopping, while encouraging footfall at stores.

A delivery fee of $10 is applicable for home deliveries, but waived for purchases worth more than $60.

There are also plans in the pipeline to expand its network and physical reach next year, to better connect with sport lovers here. 

 

Promising something for everyone

What makes Decathlon such a draw among sports junkies, weekend warriors and everyone in between?

Undeniably, a large part of the brand’s success lies in an impressive range of product offerings.

All Decathlon products across 22 in-house brands are conceptualised and produced by R&D teams. While each sport is led by a different “Passion Brand”, teams work towards the same objective: making all sports accessible to many. 

Says Managing Director of Decathlon Singapore, Nils Swolkien: “Decathlon’s unique selling point is definitely its wide range of products and omnichannel business model — we offer over 5,000 products from 60 sports for our users.”

Low prices are the key to long-term success

To innovate the user experience, Decathlon employs 800 engineers and 300 designers across the world in our in-house brands to create the most cutting-edge and attractive products. 

Since production costs are low, savings are passed on to consumers.

Its R&D laboratories keep a competitive edge on the innovation side. For example, in 2019 alone, 65 patents were granted on its innovative sport solutions. 

Prototypes are developed, then tested and re-tested. User reviews and feedback are constantly sought as well, so products can be continually improved.

Says Swolkien: “We are a totally integrated brand – from conception to consumer contact – which allows us to be consistent and sharp in our strategy. 

“Design is at the core of our business; we ensure that our products are simple yet smart, stylish yet practical, affordable with a focus on quality.

“Our teams are encouraged to innovate, question, challenge, make strategic choices inspired by a global vision, and design with the user’s needs in mind”.

 

Variety, choice and quality

 

 

How does Decathlon curate its product offerings, and maintain intuitive use?

The focus lies in meeting the needs of sport lovers via products that are useful and relevant for daily use. That’s why Decathlon does not retail cold weather walking shoes.

Current bestsellers include dumbbell kits, benches, fitness and yoga mats, yoga blocks and fitness products like abdominal wheels. 

Demand has also grown for other items. Fitness machines such as treadmills and cross trainers are highly popular, and there has been a huge spike in demand for bicycles since cycling became a popular safe distancing sport since the circuit breaker period.

 

 

Adds Swolkien: “Apart from our equipment, our sport apparel across yoga, fitness cardio, cross training and bodybuilding, running and racket sports is also doing well. Fitness and jogging apparel have been featured consistently in our top selling list. 

“Our yoga and jogging apparel for women have also been exceptionally popular amongst Singaporeans.”

Supporting sporty lifestyles

More than a sports goods provider, Decathlon aims to build a strong community of sport lovers in Singapore. 

On top of services such as bicycle maintenance, shirt printing, racket restringing, you will find first-of-its-kind services such as virtual reality goggles, 3D foot measurement stations and free health and fitness tests.

 

 

Together, they provide a holistic Decathlon experience and strengthen positive brand awareness.

Consumers see the retailer as an affordable sports brand that places emphasis on going the extra mile for its customers, and staying at the forefront of technology.

Building on the Decathlon experience

This is evident in yet another offering: a unique selection of free events for users across Experience stores.  

Pre-COVID-19, free sport events were available for shoppers across all Experience stores. These were discontinued with the launch of the circuit breaker, and Decathlon quickly pivoted to conduct livestream yoga, pilates, high intensity interval training (HIIT), dance workouts since May.

Livestream events may be accessed on the Decathlon Facebook page and users can review past livestream workouts here.

Now that the government measures have eased up, store events are slowly being reinstated. Currently, they are only available at Decathlon Singapore Lab, with safe distancing measures in place and hand sanitisation for all participants. 

There have been consistent full signups for popular classes such as Zumba, Dancercise and K-Kardio. Riding on the success of these events, more classes will be onboarded; these will include skateboarding and football for kids, and Bollywood dancing for adults. 

Adds Swolkien: “Decathlon Orchard is located at the heart of Singapore, which makes it a strategic place to unite sport lovers! We are looking to kickstart our physical events at Decathlon Orchard once the government restrictions on COVID-19 ease.”

 

 

This article first appeared in BrandzAsia

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