Decathlon is a global sporting goods retailer originating from France. With over 1400 stores in 48 countries, the chain claims to be the largest sporting goods retailer in the world. Also, Decathlon did their first foray into Singapore around 2016 with 6 stores all over Singapore. They aim to bring their presence in the country further with a new sport lab concept store in Kallang which opened just last Saturday. It is called the Decathlon Singapore Lab. Let’s check it out.
Entering the beast
And when you thought Decathlon stores in Singapore are large, the one in Kallang is its biggest store yet. The building is a large two storey industrial warehouse-like building. Retail section is only situated on the ground floor. Upon entering, you will notice it is large, open and expansive, providing patrons with lots of white spaces to test out their sporting goods.
Moreover, what distinguishes this Decathlon from others is the inclusion of several “testing lab” elements as well it being a 24 hour outlet. The lab concept in-store is the first of its kind in Asia. Decathlon touts the use of technology to make sports accessible to the Singapore masses. It is part of a tie-up initiative with national sports agency Sport Singapore (SportSG).
Lab try-out areas
Going on this lab concept, every main section in the outlet has a dedicated lab “try-out” zone. For instance, the bicycle section which greets you as you enter the store has a matted cycling track for you to test your ride over different surfaces.
Furthermore, here, you have a large selection of bicycles from house-brand Btwin. You have a choice of road, mountain, foldable bikes (in a few sizes), as well as children-sized bikes.
However, I noticed, this cycling circuit was tad small and most patrons ended up riding out of the circuit around the showcase displays. You might have to dodge a few bicycles here or there when looking around the bike accessories section.
Furthermore, this lab area is extended to other sections of the store, such as the fitness section with an assortment of gym, weightlifting and aerobic equipment.
With the equipment all laid out in the open, these areas beckons encourages you to try out their products.
Additionally, the haversack bag and trekking section has a couple of bags to try. They are hung within the support bars inside a camping tent for you to try onto your frame for form and fit.
Furthermore, there is a small Archery firing range, and a basketball and soccer hoop and pitch area in the court sports section.
The racket sport section area is large enough for you to try out the badminton rackets with their array of portable nets, and as room for two open Ping Pong tables.
Same affordability for the masses
Notably, the running section comprises of an assortment of house-brand shoes, as well as running tops and bottoms for both men and ladies. They are of pretty decent quality for the price and are also really affordable, with haversacks and swimming googles going at the $20 range, apparel from $5. This is easily half the price you pay from big-name boutiques.
However, they may tend to appeal more to casual runners/leisure sports people and less towards serious/competitive sports people who may demand more durability and longevity in their sports wear. Also, there is a kiosk where you can do foot scans to determine your best shoes for your feet-type.
Technology for Sports
Additionally, together with SportsSG, this tie-up with Decathlon aims to pioneer the use of virtual simulations and augmented reality for you to try out their gear. Such use of technology is not just limited to shoes, but to check on your various health status through screenings too.
Such Health Labs are facilities under SportSG’s Active Health movement which provide free screenings that look at health indicators. Near the entrance of the store is an activity and sports events sector, it offers an open space and a combination of workshop-like benches for such planned activity sessions.
Your usual Decathlon, but more spacious and automated
Overall, in terms of variety of goods sold, what you get here is pretty much the same as the Decathlons around Singapore, such as the megastore in Bedok and smaller outlets like in City Square mall.
Also, you don’t necessarily find any new unique items in this Decathlon nor find priced lower. With that said, this is the biggest Decathlon in the country and the main draw I see are really spacious shopping areas .The aisles are easily twice as wide as other Decathlons.
Moreover, as with every Decathlon store, don’t expect to find any large sport brands here such as Adidas, Nike, etc, that is where stores like Royal Sporting house or World of Sports fills that gap in Singapore. Everything on sale in Decathlon are permutations of their house brand.
This can range from several other sub-brand names such as Kipsta and Domyos. It does not mean much besides as confusing as the product names on IKEA furniture.
Only self check-out available
Furthermore, the store employs a high degree of automation to gather stocks and checking-out, saving on staff manpower. This is especially during leaner wee hours. Self-help check-out counters are a no-brainer here. Notably, you are on your own to check out the items, you simply just put all your items in a box area and the cash register will automatically adds all your items. There is no need to scan the items one-by-one.
Furthermore, the staffing of the store during the wee hours is pretty lean, with one staff for every couple of aisles. Checkout has to be done by self-checkout only. Surprisingly, you can request for staff assistance for an additional $1 added to your purchase.
Locality-wise, it is largely only accessible via bus, with the store a considerable distance from Kallang MRT. Mountbatten will be the closer “walkable” MRT station. Moreover, parking here is shared with the nearby Kallang center Macdonalds and KFC fast food outlets.
Additionally, parking is not free and be prepared to pay your normal carpark EPS rates. I find the store perfectly complements the fast food restaurants in the area, which are similarly 24 hour outlets which you can dine after shopping.
Also, this Decathlon is here to stay for the long, for 15-years at least. The land the store sits on had been leased to Decathlon by SportSG Active for that period.
All in all, what distinguishes this Decathlon from the others is the inclusion of the try-out facilities and free health screening checks provided by SportSG’s. With it being a 24 hour outlet coupled with it’s central locality, it brings it beyond what a typical sports stall can deliver.
Decathlon Singapore Lab
230 Stadium Boulevard