The installation of an AutoStore in sports retailer Decathlon's Calgary store offers customers a new retail experience and three-minute in-store order fulfillment.
In 2021, French sports retailer Decathlon opened a store in western Canada with its own robot-operated warehouse in the back storeroom, empowered by Bastian Solutions.
This location, in the Southcentre Mall, is a distribution center for the region, and the store/warehouse combination will provide customers with a unique experience.
Decathlon, which provides a wide array of sports gear and equipment, operates in over 60 countries worldwide. The company was founded in 1976 in Lille, France, and its headquarters are in Villeneuve-d’Ascq in northern France.
The sports goods retailer is known as a tech-forward company with a mission to manufacture and sell the best gear at the best prices for more than 80 different types of sports.
The Decathlon Calgary store is a concept store, where the automated warehouse is incorporated into the traditional retail store experience. The company needed a site that could offer a retail location and serve as a warehouse for e-commerce orders. The Calgary location places Decathlon closer to customers in the four western Canadian provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba), reducing shipping times.
“Decathlon’s goal was to create a unique, new, and better customer journey in this store,” said Diba Aleagha, Operations & Ecommerce Manager for Decathlon Canada.
This is where the AutoStore system came in. Bastian Solutions provided an efficient and versatile storage and fulfillment solution that could facilitate the unique customer experience Decathlon wanted for the Calgary store.
This micro-fulfillment center stores products for both in-store shoppers and e-commerce orders. By placing AutoStore in the store’s back room, Decathlon was able to increase the storage capacity typically found in a store. This allows Decathlon to place more items on display in the store, spend less time straightening, and both serve in-store shoppers and fulfill online orders from the Decathlon website.
“[AutoStore] saves us a lot of time… and it has created a really unique shopping experience.”
Decathlon planned for a location in Calgary to place it closer to customers in the western provinces. There was also a plan for this location to be a concept store. Located on the second floor of a shopping mall, Decathlon Calgary is a fully functional store as well as warehouse.
In-store shoppers visit the store, which contains equipment for over 65 different sports and over 7,000 different products. Items are on display in a unique way, many times with only one size of an item on display. Shoppers scan a QR code, select the size, and build a virtual basket.
“When you’re ready to try it on, you request pickup, and it comes out at the pickup desk right beside the dressing rooms. It’s a very quick and clean process,” explains Craig Binch, Decathlon Canada Store Leader.
The order comes through and an employee picks the virtual basket from the AutoStore, creating the order within three minutes.
This order fulfillment timing was imperative when searching for a solution.
“What we did was survey the customers in the marketplace and determine that three minutes were the maximum time anyone was willing to wait, and so that was our measure,” said Binch.
“With this, they can touch the product, see how it works, put it up, try it on. They don’t need to have a handful of clothes and they can just walk with their hands empty and take the time they need,” shared Aleagha.
“With this system, with this solution, we can save a lot on real estate in the matter of stock. And give a lot of space for people to experience the product, to try them on, to experience the sport to make a better decision,” continues Aleagha.
“Really the biggest impact is on the fact that we are able to spend more time directly with our customers and we have more products on display, which means that there’s a lot less tidying that’s required. So, it saves us a lot of time to be able to use the [AutoStore] solution and it has created a really unique shopping experience,” said Binch.
Goods come from the central warehouse in Montreal, and are then manually sorted into the 6,000 Bins inside the grid, which covers 7,000 square feet (650 square meters). In-store shoppers can scan a QR code for a specific item to add to their virtual basket via the Decathlon app. One of the 27 Red Line Robots that glide across the top of the storage system will then locate the Bin with the correct goods, retrieve it from where it’s stacked in the grid using long grippers, and deliver the items to the relevant carousel picking Port. A picker puts the product in a customer bin, and it then goes via the conveyor to the pickup desk.
When the customer is ready to retrieve the order, they can make a request at the pickup desk beside the fitting rooms.
The decision to install this automated system has led to many positive outcomes for the company. One of the biggest advantages has been the time-saving factor.
Other advantages include the following:
AutoStore can fit any warehouse or fulfillment center. Make yours the next.