You are currently viewing A glance at the process of « phygitalization », a digital experience set up by Decathlon 

Decathlon, the most appreciated brand in France, is highly determined to keep its pole position by investing in the future. Therefore, it has established the system of “phygitalization”. This system is a new e-commerce based on marketing strategy which combines the physical and digital experience of the consumer. 

Thus, should the famous slogan “all about form” be changed to “all about digital”? 

  • Decathlon 2.0: automatic checkouts 

Nowadays, new technologies are everywhere and more specifically in our stores.  From Radio Frequency Identification to automatic checkouts, customers deposit their garments in a tray equipped with an RFID scanner while the cash register automatically calculates everything. How does the RFID scanner work? 

  •  The RFID revolution

RFID uses high-frequency radio waves to transmit and store data. It permits the identification of objects, animals, or people. The incorporation of RFID technology undoubtedly enhances the shopping experience of the customer thanks to its efficiency, just like automatic checkouts. 

Moreover, this microchip enables retailers to manage their inventory more accurately by using technology to streamline retail operations. Indeed, if we look at the broader trend, one of the main purposes of the brand is to become extremely efficient. 

This method is similar to the NFC (Near-Field Communication) chip used in peer-to-peer modes. The computer network model permits the decentralization of systems. In this system, each computer plays the role of a server and a client (for instance, blockchain technology uses this program).

  • The Employees’ work accessories: a perfect example of phygitalization 

The equipping team members of Decathlon have WiFi-connected smartphones. This is the perfect example of a modern approach to retail, from a technological perspective. This setup benefits both the employees and the customers in various ways, such as access to pieces of information on the product, customer reviews and questions, or even grant loans. 

The right stock is the fair stock” at Decathlon. The renewal of the inventory of each product takes place every twenty-seven days in the shop. (Five hundred and thirty-two groups of items must be inventoried each month). 

Team members have succinctly understood the importance of having the appropriate inventory to meet the needs of their clientele. It perfectly underlines the result of combining the digital world and physical members.

  • An upgraded employee, the new version of the seller (at Decathlon)

The employees are extremely well-trained (particularly in cybersecurity). In fact, they are encouraged to protect their sensitive databases, like changing their passwords frequently or archiving emails. This preventive safety is necessary because everything at Decathlon works with digital technologies.

Therefore, the employees must be careful in order to fight any cyberattacks, to avoid an overall malfunction, and above all to avoid a substantial loss of sales. 

If such an event happens, the entire supply chain could be in danger. In 2023, in Spain, a cyberattack occurred, causing the leakage of one hundred and twenty-three million customers’ files.

  • Positive trolling, an undeniable communication asset

The communication strategy in Decathlon could be described as “positive trolling” due to a customer-centric approach, which is based on conversing with the customer in a lighthearted and humorous manner. This approach is also used by other well-known brands like, for example, Burger King writing the slogan : “Every king needs a clown. Happy 50th birthday, Macdonald Germany”.

The customers also have diverse possibilities to directly contact the brand. In addition to that, the customer service truly reflects a customer-centric approach in retail. This accessibility is very beneficial because it increases the overall customer experience.

  • 24-hour trading, the omnichannel strategy

Decathlon has decided to adopt an evolving retail landscape by embracing online ordering and e-commerce platforms. Its incorporation of digital channels aligns with broader trends in the retail industry. The growth of online platforms dedicated to buying sports equipment has become undeniably significant. Many factors contribute to this phenomenon, for instance, the continuity of trade and changing consumer habits. 

In 2023, Decathlon generated 20.20% of its turnover through cross-channel shopping. 

This represents 18 685 orders on the Internet. Buyers pay for their purchases online before entering the store. Then, they use services like click-and-collect or web-to-store 48hour delivery in lockers. All of this is part of a modern retail strategy known as omnichannel retailing. This approach seamlessly integrates online and physical stores, to provide a convenient and flexible shopping experience for the customer. 

This permanence led Decathlon to rethink its entire store concept; shortly, stores relying completely on the digital are expected. 

  •  The complete digitalization of stores

Indeed, the concept of a virtual shopping basket with the potential to eliminate traditional checkouts is a promising yet controversial idea. Implementing such technology raises alarming debates and considerations related to human rights, employment law, and the broader societal impact. 

Nevertheless, the integration of digital technology in retail includes the improvement of algorithms, the security of databases, or even opportunities for digital transformation. The use of digital technologies highlights the boldness of some brands and chains. 

In 2016, Amazon Go stores were introduced. Hence, Decathlon is exploring a similar innovation to satisfy the sports enthusiasts of tomorrow. It suggests a strategic move to enhance the customer experience and embrace technological advancements in the retail sector. 

In that case, we may wonder if an entirely digital system could not lead to the unemployment of thousands of employees.


Amandine Derouet

Master 2 Cyberjustice – Promotion 2023/2024


Sources :

Les clés de la stratégie marketing de Decathlon

Les coulisses de Decathlon : un CRC au coeur de la stratégie du groupe

Decathlon renforce ses compétences dans l’IT et le digital 

Decathlon renforce son bras armé technologique pour accélérer sa digitalisation 

Stratégie digitale de Decathlon : deux piliers de performance

Amazon Go, le premier supermarché sans caisses, est ouvert au public

La phygitalisation : le nouveau mode de distribution


A propos de Amandine Derouet

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