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Creating a Unique Customer Experience: Decathlon Leverages Micro-Fulfillment

Cody Caissie | 9 November 2022

From concept to micro-fulfillment reality, Decathlon and Bastian Solutions worked together to create an in-store, customer-facing micro-fulfillment system.  

“Decathlon’s goal was to create a new, unique and better customer journey with ideally removing non-added value tasks from the staff,” said Diba Aleagha, Operations & Ecommerce Manager for Decathlon Canada.

Faced with knowing that “retail needs to evolve” and planning for a second floor location at their newest location in South Central Mall in Calgary, Decathlon needed a solution that would accommodate in-store customer needs and serve as an ecommerce hub for Western Canada. Decathlon is a global sporting goods store with a history that goes back 45 years. Originally started in France, this global brand now has about 1,700 stores in more than 60 countries.

For the Calgary location, Bastian Solutions experts designed and integrated a storage and fulfillment system that was small, fast and flexible, a perfect blend for a unique customer experience.   

Finding a Perfect Blend with Micro-fulfillment

The “micro-fulfillment” solution approach originated in the grocery sector as a potential solution to fill online orders from either existing retail stores or “dark stores,” closed to the public for internal shopping but used as pick up sites. This trend has stretched and caught the eye of retail. The goal remains the same, to minimize shipping and labor costs, while bringing the product closer to the consumer.

Similarly, for Decathlon, this meant a small distribution center located in a metropolitan area. Not a massive distribution center that’s located outside of the city. The South Central Mall location serves as a hub to reach the Western Canada region.

So, how does the goods to person system support micro-fulfillment?

Leveraging an AutoStore goods to person system that offers high-density in a small footprint, Decathlon can store products for in-store and ecommerce fulfillment needs.

First, products come from Montreal’s warehouse. They are then manually sorted and inducted into bins that are fed into the AutoStore system. Customers scan a QR code and pick the specific item via Decathlon mobile app. Inside the AutoStore houses footwear, apparel, and sporting goods that will fit in an AutoStore tote. Robots retrieve the required product and deliver the bin to a picking port. A picker puts the required products in a single customer bin and that bin is delivered via conveyor to the pickup desk. Customers will then pick up their product for purchase or trying on.

Right-Sized System

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In light of the unique location, technology weight, size and scalability were all a factor, in

 addition to the business requirements for faster fulfillment.  “What we did was survey the customers in the marketplace and determined that 3 minutes is the max anyone was willing to wait and so that was our measure,” said Craig Binch, Decathlon Canada Store Leader.

To support these needs, the following key technologies were integrated:

Small System, Big ImpactBastian_Solutions0316

Despite its confined location, this “back of store” solution can meet a three minute order cycle meaning it can deliver product in three minutes from the time of customer order to final fulfillment. The designed system also allowed the increase of storage capacity and density, holding 11,000 SKUs with over 16,000 cubic feet of storage.  

The micro-fulfillment solution created a unique shopping experience, removing the majority off the floor space and allowing products to be more uniquely on display. It also increased the time employees could spend directly interacting and supporting customers, reducing the time spent tidying and managing product on the floor.

Time Better Spent

“Really the biggest impact is on the fact that we are able to spend more time directly with our customers and really, we have more product uniquely on display, which means that there’s a lot less tidying that’s required. So, it really saves us a lot of time to be able to use the solution and it has created a really unique shopping experience,” said Binch.

Decathlon prides itself on being a very tech-forward company that keeps the future in mind. This means they tend to be early adopters of a lot of different technologies in their warehouses. Together, Bastian Solutions and Decathlon were able to identify and develop a solution that not only meets their unique needs but is equally reliable; founded on proven solutions and experience.

Bastian Solutions is dedicated to helping our customers increase their productivity through proven automation solutions that fit business needs. Talk to a solutions expert today about your next project.

Author: Cody Caissie

Cody Caissie is a Field Application Engineer based out of Toronto, Canada. He is a graduate from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. He excels at creating customer relationships and creating solutions for companies to compete in their markets by providing the best material handling system solutions and technology.

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