When Decathlon, the world’s largest sporting goods retailer came to us to develop a pilot loyalty program in Eastern Europe, the company made it clear it wanted more than just a solution that its customers could use within their own stores. Decathlon envisioned a network that united the world of sports—enthusiasts, clubs, teams, and events—on one platform.
To us at Dhimahi, a software consulting firm and an Oracle Partner with a specialization in blockchain, this suggested a clear solution: Blockchain. The true value of blockchain lies in creating an exchange where multiple parties (who in principle have not established trust with one other) can perform secure transactions. It’s also a customer-centric solution in which customers can track all their transactions in real time in a virtual wallet.
Building a blockchain infrastructure from scratch, however, isn’t easy. To bring the project in on time and within budget, we partnered with Oracle to leverage the Oracle Blockchain Platform, essentially taking care of the hard stuff like hosting and maintenance so we could devote our time and resources to creating a great product.
We launched the program, called Decathlon Team, in Slovenia, Croatia, and Serbia in March 2019. This region is a perfect proving ground for the solution because it requires working in three separate jurisdictions each with its own currency. Customers can earn tokens—called “medals” by shopping in any of the Decathlon stores in the region, and seamlessly redeem the rewards at one of the partners on the blockchain network.
Here’s an example of how the program works: A customer enters a Decathlon store and buys a tennis racket. By the time she leaves the store, she can check our app (running on top of blockchain) on her smartphone to see those medals credited to her account. A few days later, she redeems some of her medals using the app to receive a one-hour lesson with a tennis pro. That pro can then come to a Decathlon store and redeem his points for a discount on, say, tennis balls.
The program already has more than 200 partners on the exchange. What makes it particularly exciting is that these transactions are reconciled in real time. Without blockchain’s distributed ledger structure, a loyalty program typically reconciles on a periodic basis, so customers may not see the credit until it is reconciled, for example at the end of the month.
After researching several options, we chose Oracle Blockchain Platform as the backbone of the solution. Because the infrastructure is pre-built, we were able to bring the product to market in four months, about three months faster than we believe would have been possible with other solutions—saving our client about 100 man-days of development. With infrastructure issues out of the way, we were able to develop and test applications with increased agility and flexibility, delivering completed applications more quickly and provisioning to the cloud in a few clicks. We could start prototyping chain-code logic in a matter of hours and had the first chain code running in a matter of days. The platform also facilitated development of user interfaces. Taken together, these features allowed us to focus more IT resources on strategic initiatives and business needs while at the same time reducing capital and operational costs.
The solution we developed is a cloud-based application with microservices architecture and an API-centric model. It consists of a client app for accessing the wallet, browsing through assets, and making purchases by invoking smart contracts; an admin app for complete system administration; an API gateway to access all backend services such as database and blockchain; and backend microservices for converting purchases to earned medals, sending of transactional emails, and other tasks.
Decathlon was pleased with the results. “The collaboration with Dhimahi for the construction of this new Loyalty program platform, based on the principle of blockchain, has been effective and we are very satisfied with the result rendered,” said Michel Kappler, CEO, Decathlon Croatia-Slovenia-Serbia.
The Decathlon Team program is an exciting proof of concept for ways in which organizations can leverage new technologies. Blockchain was a natural fit to build a consortium of like-minded partners around a safe transactional environment that meets the needs of multiple stakeholders: customers, partners, and of course Decathlon itself. It’s really a model for the next generation of multi-party partnerships.
About the Author: Vojko Kercan, Managing Director, Dhimahi
Vojko Kercan is a co-founder and managing director of Dhimahi - A company active in the fields of Software Engineering and Blockchain. Mr. Kercan has broad experience in managing large software projects in the ticketing, insurance and retail industries. Under his leadership, software solutions for the biggest online ticketing network in Europe, customer applications for world renowned insurance company and innovative blockchain product for global sports retailer, have been successfully developed and deployed.