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Special NRF report: Decathlon develops RFID to revolutionise stores and back of house

Sports retailer Decathlon is rolling out RFID as part of a drive to both revolutionise its digital activities in-store and dramatically improve efficiencies in its warehouses, which all fits into its multi-channel strategy. By Glynn Davis


Special NRF report: Decathlon develops RFID to revolutionise stores and back of house

As both a manufacturer and retailer - with 80% of its sales being own-made goods - Decathlon is in a good position to use its R&D budget to innovate on its products as well as its IT, according to Eddy Lecointe, CIO of Decathlon, who says this led to the creation of its own system of RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification).

This solution will also be made available to other retailers, thereby potentially being an additional revenue stream for the business, which clearly helps offset the development costs.

As a manufacturer Lecointe says the company has been able to easily source tag its products and so far these have been rolled out (along with the reader technology) to 30 outlets, with the rest of the 700 units (in 18 countries) due to follow by April.

Initial benefits have included improved warehouse productivity, greater stock efficiency, and a reduction in mark-downs. However, there are many more advantages to be gained from its RFID roll out as it forms a major part of Decathlon's mobility strategy for in-store.

This has involved the development of a smart device solution for the shop assistants to use around the stores. When this is combined with the RFID-tagged products then it creates a powerful cocktail.

The employees no longer need to use the store's desktops for accessing additional product information, orders can be taken on the devices, and stock availability can be queried, along with much more functionality.

Another strand that takes Decathlon further down the route of being a seamless multi-channel operation is the overhauling of its cash management system - involving its tills and payments acceptance.

"We've started a cash management system project because at the moment we do not have the same system around the world. We decided to share a cash software solution worldwide as this supports our international growth," explains Lecointe.

The company chose Wincor Nixdorf - and its TP.Net solution - as the IT firm has the capability to roll it out around the world. Three years into the project and it is now in 16 countries - covering more than 16,000 tills including both standard and self checkout units.

This is all part of a move by Decathlon to work from the same technology platforms regardless of country and channel. "For our omni-channel plans we need one system to handle everything - the sharing of PoS information through all channels, the promotions engine, payments, and a single basket across channels," says Lecointe.

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