Decathlon Hong Kong scores goal with Adyen

Image courtesy of Adyen.

Payment experience is a win-or-go-home situation for a retailer, especially for a multinational like Decathlon, one of the largest sporting goods retailers in the world.

In Hong Kong, Decathlon previously suffered from a complicated payments system, causing undue stress not only to customers but also to the company’s staff.

Kent Lam, Head of Technology at Decathlon Hong Kong, sat down with Frontier Enterprise on the sidelines of the NRF APAC 2024 event, to discuss their payments transformation and how its partnership with Dutch payment company Adyen eliminated many business hurdles.


According to Lam, Decathlon Hong Kong used to have two separate vendors for payment — one that provided point-of-sale (POS) terminals and a payment service provider (PSP) that offered low transaction fees for credit card purchases.

“We integrated the services of these two vendors and then further integrated both with our web POS system, Openbravo. The problem was that whenever there were payment issues, it was hard to debug because there were multiple points of failure,” he recalled.

The most common issue with such a setup was duplicated charges, which inconvenienced many customers, Lam said. Moreover, Decathlon Hong Kong’s customer service team was overwhelmed by all the refund claims and irate calls.

To make matters worse, the POS systems, which had been in use since 2017, were approaching the end of their lifecycle.

“We cannot upgrade because the PSP needs to reintegrate the new models and recertify them. They did not want to recertify the new models because they now have their own POS systems and are pushing us to use those. Even then, we would still need to integrate their models with Openbravo,” Lam said.

Decathlon sought advice and was informed that the integration would cost around HK$500,000. However, since this type of integration had never been done before, there was no guarantee it would be successful.

To make matters worse, Decathlon’s PSP at the time wanted to increase transaction fees yet again. For Lam, it was time to throw in the towel with their payment service provider at the time.

First pick

After considering only three prospects, Decathlon Hong Kong selected Adyen from the Netherlands. It was an easy choice, Lam noted, because their French counterpart was already using Adyen.

Kent Lam, Head of Technology, Decathlon Hong Kong. Image courtesy of Decathlon Hong Kong.

“Our main concern was whether the new provider could support our web POS, Openbravo. None of the other PSPs had experience integrating with Openbravo, except Adyen,” Lam observed.

In addition, Decathlon needed a reliable partner with a global contract; someone who could help them deliver, even during crunch time.

“Decathlon, being a global company, doesn’t want numerous local agreements or contracts. They prefer using a vendor with a global contract, especially for payments, which are pretty important. Luckily, we have a global contract with Adyen,” the executive noted.

After three to four months of development, with Openbravo at the helm and Adyen providing support, Decathlon Hong Kong was able to go live with the new platform around July 2023, achieving immediate success.

“It’s been a year since, and our partnership with Adyen has solved a lot of problems. We don’t have those duplicate charges anymore. We don’t have internal fraud because Adyen has much better risk management processes. They have a very sophisticated risk management platform, with a bunch of rules already set up to help us detect fraud. Plus, we have lower transaction fees,” Lam said.

As part of the partnership, Adyen handles end-to-end payment solutions for Decathlon Hong Kong’s online store, in-app purchases, and all eight physical stores in the city. Leveraging Adyen’s Unified Commerce solution, Decathlon Hong Kong now has a clear view of all its payment channels and transactions.

Additionally, Adyen has enabled Apple Pay for Decathlon Hong Kong’s online transactions and in-app purchases, and will introduce Google Pay functionality later this year.

“We already saw an increase in people using Apple Pay over other forms of payment online. It’s about a 20% increase,” Lam said.

Roster rebuild

Aside from payments, Decathlon Hong Kong is currently modernising its e-commerce platform with a planned migration set for August.

“We are currently using Oracle’s e-commerce system, and we’ve built a lot of custom features hooked into it. However, we are migrating to a completely new APAC e-commerce platform being built by Decathlon Singapore. This new platform will be deployed in multiple APAC countries,” Lam revealed.

According to him, an APAC-focused e-commerce platform is crucial to efficient operations, ensuring that local teams can attend to issues promptly.

“The problem we currently have is the time zone difference. The support is not ideal because the current e-commerce platform is built in Europe. Hence, when we need support from them, there is a six-hour delay. We have to wait until 2 PM or 3 PM here until they wake up in Europe to support it,” he remarked.

Indeed, when it comes to digital transformation, Decathlon is playing the long game. As for other technologies, Lam said they are also looking at RFID security vendors and exploring the potential of augmented reality.

Decathlon HK isn’t satisfied with its current RFID security vendor, citing slow response times in handling support and detecting RFID items, which impacts the detection of theft or unpaid merchandise. This has prompted Lam to explore other options.

“For AR, there was a pitch geared towards staff augmentation. You can have an AI camera that scans whether you need to restock items on a particular shelf rather than check them manually every time. Then, you can automate and create all the tasks that need to be done on a dashboard, and then people can go do it,” Lam concluded.