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Introduction

Decathlon in Indonesia is the country’s largest sports retailer. The brand offers over 5,000 products catering to 80 different sports categories through its 4 retail outlets and an e-commerce store. The brand aims to promote an active and healthy lifestyle by ensuring sports lovers have access to affordable products. Accessibility and affordability are key strengths and values of the brand.

The Alavi.ai team recently had an informative conversation with Hafidh Ichsan, Acquisition Leader at Decathlon Indonesia on how the brand successfully maintains a competitive edge online through the experiences it creates for its customers offline.

Decathlon’s Experiential Outlets

Decathlon in Indonesia connected the offline world of Decathlon stores to their e-commerce website through experiential sports outlets. Here are the different ways in which Decathlon made the connection:

A Space to Try Out Sports Equipment

Some sports enthusiasts may not feel confident about buying sports equipment online. They may want to try out the equipment prior to purchasing and some equipment may need to be matched to physical factors like height and weight. To overcome those challenges, Decathlon built experiential sports outlets located outside of main cities. These outlets offered consumers large spaces or indoor playgrounds for trying out various products. Hafidh mentioned that customers could use the space to try out roller skates, shoot a basketball and even test-ride a bicycle! By giving consumers a chance to try out the sports equipment, many consumers gained the confidence needed to not only purchase offline but online as well. Additionally, the brand noticed that since sports is often a team event, if one team member visits an experiential outlet and makes a purchase, it is likely that their team players would purchase the similar product from Decathlon online.

Content for Social Media

Given that Indonesia has a great social media presence, Decathlon developed their experiential outlets to be social media friendly – the perfect place for sports related Instagram and Facebook stories and TikTok videos. Their experiential outlets provided consumers or sports enthusiasts with an opportunity to try out products in-store and share their experiences online. Users tagged Decathlon Indonesia’s social media handles on their WhatsApp stories, Instagram stories and other social media platforms, which meant that the brand reached thousands of families, friends and social media audiences across the country. This kind of public exposure gave the brand a lot of traction online in terms of website visitors and conversions.

A Place for Family Outings and Sporting Activities and Events

Decathlon’s experiential outlets have also been developed to facilitate immersive sports experiences for the consumer and their whole family. Families and friends can visit Decathlon outlets and spend the entire day there because of the numerous activities and food and beverage outlets. Visitors can purchase products and enjoy an elevated in-store customer experience that can be shared with their family and friends in-person and online. Many Decathlon visitors can take photographs and videos of their time at the outlets and post them on social media, and these actions help create a buzz online about Decathlon and their offerings which leads to more online sales.

On certain days, the experiential outlets are repurposed to host various sporting activities and events that attract dozens of potential customers both offline and online. During these events as well, the brand has an opportunity to not only engage with their customers but also engage with their customers’ families and friends and other sports enthusiasts. All these efforts result in more online publicity has visitors post about their experiences at Decathlon.

“Sports is not only about playing the game, but it is also about sharing an experience with family and friends. And that important factor is what we at Decathlon Indonesia are focusing on during this time, especially in terms of connecting offline experiences to online growth.” – Hafidh Ichsan, Acquisition Leader, Decathlon Indonesia.

How Decathlon’s Offline Experiences Pivoted Online During the COVID-19 Pandemic

During the early stages of the pandemic when stores shut down temporarily for months, Decathlon changed their strategy from encouraging people to visit their outlets to encouraging people to purchase their products online and workout from home. The brand ramped up its content through webinars and livestreams on social media platforms like Instagram. For example, Decathlon created educational and meaningful content about workouts and low-intensity wellness exercises that people could do while at home. The brand was also able to keep sales up during this time by providing free shipping on all online purchases. Since people could not visit gyms, many consumers took advantage of this offer and purchased equipment for their home workouts, and the brand’s online orders and basket sizes grew.

Once restrictions eased, customers that resided closer to Decathlon outlets wanted to collect their products in-person. To accommodate these needs, Decathlon created a drive-through option and a click-and-collect option. Additionally, despite the logistical issues the pandemic created for many businesses, Decathlon always ensured that products were readily available and that customers could collect their purchases within 30 minutes to an hour of ordering online.  Customers were very satisfied with this service and even continued to order products this way even after everyday life normalized in Indonesia.

Therefore, through these efforts and new developments during the COVID-19 outbreak, Decathlon Indonesia was able to use its offline outlets to maintain customer engagement online.

The Way Forward for Decathlon in Indonesia

In the future, Decathlon Indonesia aims to continue providing hassle-free shopping experiences for both offline and online shoppers. The company will continue to use its offline outlets as pick up points for its online shoppers (thereby strengthening the link between the offline and online worlds). The brand is working towards making an online shopper’s offline experience at an outlet even better with contact-less checkouts options, which have already been trialed and implemented in Decathlon India.

Decathlon is also working on developing its app into a channel that ensures offline experiences contribute to online growth. For example, the brand is working on launching a sports events section for the app, where users can filter by location and view sporting events or unofficial community/neighborhood games that are taking place. Once a user has found a sporting event they are interested in, they can either join the event/game by signing up for it or book/buy tickets to attend the games/events. Through such initiatives, Decathlon Indonesia is excited to create a healthy sports ecosystem that ensure that offline experiences contribute to online growth.

Hafidh ended the conversation by highlighting that when it comes to using offline experiences to improve growth online, it is extremely important for businesses to alter their strategy according to each geographical location they target because customer behaviour, personalities and lifestyles vary significantly.

“What makes us [Decathlon] different from other brands is that we act local even though Decathlon is a global brand. We have four stores across Indonesia and these four stores are different and are built to serve customers in the way we think might suit the local area. What works in one area might not work in another area.” – Hafidh Ichsan, Acquisition Leader, Decathlon Indonesia

Swetha Nagasundaram is a Senior Marketing Team Lead at Alavi.ai

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