Shopping for sporting goods promises to get exciting in Singapore with the opening of Decathlon Singapore Lab, the largest French retailer dealing with advanced sporting goods at the Kallang Area.
The store opened on Saturday, 19th January, 2019 and promises to offer advanced sporting gear for sports enthusiasts.
From robotic inventory management, to four types of indoor surface patch to test run wearing new shoes, gravelled surface pathway and a conveyor belt to immediately transport online ordered products, the all-day open store has several advanced features to boast off.
Situated at 230 Stadium Boulevard, Decathlon Singapore Lab is spread over 5000 square meter and offers incomparable sporting gear facilities.
Apart from testing new sporting gear, customers can also freely get a health check-up at the Active Health Lab for which Decathlon has partnered with Sport Singapore.
In order to deliver online orders within a couple of hours in Singapore, Decathlon has put in place a conveyor belt that will manage orders promptly and efficiently.
The store also offers its customers the choice to first place their order online and then personally pick up the stuff from any Decathlon store.
Customers can do so in the next couple of hours without paying anything extra. There is also a free-for-all play area right next to the store.
Decoding the name of the store, the chief executive of Decathlon Singapore Yves Claude said that since a lab denotes a systematic innovative environment where latest solutions are regularly tested, the store is named Decathlon Singapore Lab.
While speaking to the media, Claude added that they wanted to give customers reasons so that they keep coming back to the store.
This is the 4th Decathlon Expansion in Singapore. The showroom at Joo Koon which is spread over 4000 square meters was the largest till the opening of the Decathlon Singapore Lab. There are two other such stores.
The company had already witnessed over 2 million footfalls in all its stores located at City Square Mall, in Bedok’s Viva Business Park and at Joo Koon’s Fairprice Hub in 2017.
In May 2018 Decathlon had signed a MoU with Sport Singapore in order to help the store provide vibrancy at Kallang area, Lim Teck Yin, CEO of Sport Singapore mentioned.
Mr. Lim added that both stakeholders share a common goal of making sport accessible for all.
He also mentioned that Decathlon offers quality goods at affordable price and regularly ideates upon ways to improve customer participation.
Nathaniel Gregory, the store leader of Decathlon Singapore Lab hoped that the new outlet would help change shopping perception of both the customers and the staff manning the store.
He highlighted on how retail was once a monotonous job but with customers preferring online shopping, retailers’ need to evolve is felt ever more.
Gregory added that if earlier the store leader’s job was to function normally as a brick-and-mortar store would, today things have changed so much that they have to learn everything from digital marketing to search engine optimisation.
During his visit to Singapore Bastien Grandgeorge, Decathlon’s CEO said that he is often asked when the group would stop its promotional offers.
This is no surprises as Singaporeans love it at the store picking up $5.90 basketball or running singlet for just $4.90.
To which Grandgeorge says that such prices aren’t part of any promotional campaign but something that would stay for long. He added that the company has constantly set the tone for the sports retail industry by making its products affordable and targeting a wider customer base.
When asked what the company would do if the customers find products sold at its stores lower elsewhere. He was sharp to reply that in such cases they immediately cut their prices to remain competitive.
Addressing a large gathering he said that Singaporeans should brace themselves for more affordable products as the prices are all set to drop in the future. With the target to offer items for 50 sports in one store they are fast becoming the one-stop sports retail store in Singapore.
The company has taken on its bigger rivals such as Under Armour, Adidas and Nike thanks to its competitive pricing strategy.
This has yielded good results as it is giving a run for its money to these brands.
The local retail industry in this business is estimated to range around $5.5 billion with everyone wanting a lion’s share.
Grandgeorge said that while the company is aggressive in pricing it doesn’t compromise with the quality of the product with each passing through stringent QC checks. They in fact show the entire testing process on screen at their stores to reassure customers about quality.
The key to the brand’s success has been its integrated business model. The company designs and manufactures majority of the products sold at its store which has allowed it to be aggressive with pricing.
They have 22 in-house brands which each one of them covering a range of sports with team sports label Kipsta and water sports label Tribord being popular.
They have successfully re-engineered their supply chain by adopting cost-saving initiatives and passing on these benefits to the customers.
An interesting fact to note about Decathlon is that in spite of having 1300 plus stores globally and being a €10 billion they haven’t ever signed up with a sports celebrity to endorse their products nor has it spent millions on advertising during major events such as the FIFA World Cup.
It has rather been investing in offering customers with ample choice. The Viva Business Park store is spread over 35,000 sq ft and is offering customers around 95000 products while the second store at City Square Mall has a space of 21,500 sq ft.
The sports retailer started its Singapore journey in 2013 and has taken its stores on long term lease which has clearly signalling its intentions.
It is aiming to have 20 retail outlets by the next decade and is engaging with the local sporting fraternity. Recently it offered support to ActiveSG which launched a Basketball Academy and sponsored the kit for Tampines Rovers at the S-League.
While attractive pricing may be paying the company huge dividends some experts have sounded words of caution. Dr Seshan Ramaswami who teaches at the Singapore Management University believes that while the brand would ride on value-for-money strategy well in Singapore that may not be enough.
He said that true sports enthusiasts don’t always look at the price tag but demand quality and experience and this is where Decathlon may lose the race unless it can convince this category that they are a serious brand in the market.
He added that while the sportswear market in the country is nearing saturation but Decathlon still can make a mark in some segments that are growing including water sports, yoga and running.
Also, children need constant supply of sportswear due to their growing size and this is one segment that the company seems to be working on. They have a large selection of children’s sportswear and are on the right course towards success.
Grandgeorge said that they are deliberately trying to target the kids and encouraging parents to pick up a sport to play with their kids.
The company has envisioned creating a Decathlon generation when these kids grow up. For Grandgeorge who has been with the company for more than one and half decade the goal is simple – they want to reinvent sports retail in Singapore and build long-term relationship with their customers.
Observing how Decathlon is growing in Singapore, South East Asia and Deloitte Singapore’s sports business group leader James Walton hoped that there would be an increase in people’s participation in sports.
He also added that with Decathlon bringing in cheaper sporting gears, people would move away from brands such as Adidas and Nike – the two dominant brands in Singapore.
Walton hoped that Decathlon would be able to bridge the gap that is currently seen in the market because functional and cheap sporting gear are not available for all.
He added that just as anyone can step into an IKEA store and find something of his choice, Decathlon would do the same in sporting gear in Singapore.