Decathlon Singapore is going all out on data

Decathlon Data Lab.
PHOTO: Decathlon Singapore

Decathlon unveiled their Singapore Data Lab just last week, nestled near their flagship Singapore Lab store in the Kallang Alive district.

Looking in, the Data Lab may seem like just another office building, albeit one that is spruced up with all the hallmarks of a hipster co-working space. Vibrant, graffiti-designed entrance? Check. Modular, collaborative working zones? Check. Central, open-planned pantry? Check. It's one of those offices that seem like it would be a suitable venue for both an investor meeting as well as a cafe.

Decathlon calls it their "people-first digital innovation nexus". And from what we can gather, it is envisioned as the central place to house all of their data teams - data analysts, software developers, designers, network and security engineers - as well as an incubation ground for data projects with industry partners like Sport Singapore, research agencies and even schools.

Decathlon Data Lab hot desk and data booth configurations.
PHOTO: Decathlon Singapore

What are the possible uses of data for a sports retail shop you may ask, besides just selling more products? Well, for one, the reduction of their own carbon footprint.

Decathlon is slowly building up its range of eco-friendly products and uses data to track everything from the materials and manufacturing impact of making them, to consumer sentiment in purchasing and using the eco-versions of a product.

The close proximity of the Data Lab to their flagship Singapore Lab store is also deliberate, as it is meant to be the proving ground for said projects or other new data services before they are rolled out to other Decathlon stores locally or the Decathlon International network.

The Singapore Lab store has already seen its fair share of success being the launchpad of many data-powered retail innovations in Singapore, such as their RFID inventory robot (now deployed to more than 120 stores worldwide, and an RFID-based conveyor system-which is at the heart of Decathlon's two-hour islandwide e-commerce fulfilment service. 

RFID conveyor belt system.
PHOTO: Decathlon Singapore

The Singapore Lab is also home to various collaborative projects such as the innovative Retail AI Vision System in partnership with A*STAR, the Singapore Agency for Science, Technology and Research.

The Retail AI Vision System combines a series of cameras with AI algorithms that is able to feed Decathlon information about their stores, not just in relation to generic footfall and sales data, but down to very granular levels of how customers are interacting with various products; the system is able to tell if customers just walk past aisles, if they glance at a particular product on the shelves, for how long, or if actually touch and interact with said product. 

The Singapore Lab employs an innovative AI Vision System that can track people and products across the store.
PHOTO: Decathlon Singapore

Besides fine-tuning retail shelving and product development through customer shopping patterns, the AI Vision System is also able to help Decathlon optimise manpower and efficiency, such as directing staff to a more crowded area or alerting staff to emergencies such as accidents and falls.

Another partner programme that relies on collaborative data-sharing is the Active Health booth with SportSG.

While there are various Active Health booths throughout Singapore, the one located within the Singapore Lab store carries a unique symbiotic relationship where Decathlon can harness data to better advise users on the right products to purchase based on personal fitness needs, while SportSG is able to understand Decathlon's user habits to better improve the accessibility of local sport and fitness programs.

According to Decathlon Singapore CEO, Stephan Veyret, the company is committed to creating an omnichannel ecosystem where data is at the centre of what they do, from how products and services are developed, to how customers interact with and benefit from them, regardless of physical brick and mortar or digital experiences.

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This article was first published in HardwareZone.