Decathlon, an outdoor sporting goods retailer with more than 1,600 stores across 52 countries, opened its first full-sized brick-and-mortar store in the U.S. in April 2019. As the retailer seeks to expand its physical and digital presence throughout this market, it is building an application network to connect disparate systems and processes — such as POS software, order management and inventory data — so that employees can easily access and reuse applications and data to scale globally.
With the API-powered network, Decathlon aims to:
- Eliminate the need for traditional checkout. Within its Emeryville, Calif. store, Decathlon already has integrated its cloud-based order management system with mobile POS and cashless payment systems to get rid of checkout counters altogether. Payments are made to the sales teams using a system of mobile scanners placed throughout different parts of the store.
- Share real-time inventory availability with consumers. Pulling data from the order management system, Decathlon store associates can use their mobile devices to share inventory information with shoppers and order non-stocked items for home delivery or in-store pickup. In addition, screens throughout the store allow shoppers to search for and order items that are not available on-site.
- Leverage autonomous robots to provide daily inventory updates, keeping product counts and locations within the store up to date. The retailer has rolled out autonomous inventory robots in its three Bay Area stores that are connected to Decathlon’s backend systems. Each bot conducts precise daily inventory counts and provides specific location information for products.
To achieve these goals, Decathlon is leveraging the Mulesoft Anypoint Platform to make it easier to plug in new services and third-party applications. Decathlon will use the platform in the U.S. first to build up its omnichannel experiences before expanding to its other markets.
“We wanted to rethink the way we do IT, and Mulesoft was the perfect partner to help us go through that process really fast,” said Tony Leon, CIO and CTO of Decathlon in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “One of our deficiencies was integrating other systems at a slow pace. We had a lot of systems we wanted to connect through digital, and we spent a lot of time. [There were] too many companies and too many possibilities.”
With a decoupled architecture, Decathlon will be able to add technologies, such as a new shipping solution, in an estimated one third of the time it would take to add them without the API network in place.
“Developer teams across the entire business can access and reconfigure these building blocks, unlocking endless potential for innovation and expansion,” Leon said. “For example, our order management project would have taken a year without MuleSoft, but we completed it in four months.”
API Network’s Major Benefit: Reusability
The retailer began working with Mulesoft in late 2018 and coordinated the deployment of the API network to align with the April 2019 store opening, according toLeon. Decathlon began by designing a cloud-based order management platform with reusable APIs — including product prices, order reconciliation, inventory and fulfillment.
Using the Anypoint Platform, Decathlon built and deployed a core set of 11 reusable APIs, moving away from legacy systems to make hard-to-reach data more accessible. Reusability here has been key: being able to reuse a functionality of an API for different applications means the retailer doesn’t have to build a new one every time it needs to integrate a new application.
“We selected the platform because we wanted a solution that could work within the cloud,” Leon said. “It’s very easy to reuse APIs, and not a lot of solutions we looked at permitted us to do that.”