Quechua - Our concept of innovation

Our concept of innovation

Innovation, R&D is Quechua's DNA, where most of our investments are concentrated.

We cultivate a privileged relationship in the design of our products.
At the Mountain Store (our international design centre) you can find:
  👉🏻Laboratories at the cutting edge of technology,
👉🏻User-friendly offices, 
👉🏻A store dedicated to users
⛰Mountains and nature all around!
Gathered in this magical and favourable setting, in France, at the foot of Mont Blanc, we think and develop adaptable, innovative, respectful and instantaneous products for our planet.
Products that can be used spontaneously, easily, without constraint or waste of time.
Products that adapt to each individual, to the environment in which we evolve, or to the weather encountered.
It's a whole ecosystem that inspires and enthuses us to create our products of tomorrow with ingenuity and high standards.

Quechua - Our concept of innovation

An idyllic location at the foot of mont-blanc

Since November 2014, this is where we find our inspiration to develop our Quechua products designed for hiking and camping.
We put down our bags and our tents in specially built premises in France (Passy more precisely) at the foot of the Mont-Blanc.

More than 400 people work for outdoor sports enthusiasts in our international design centre, the « Mountain Store »:a
15 000m2 building built on a plot of over 50 000m2.

It is a real ecosystem that harmoniously combines all our professions and our teams but also the other teams of the Decathlon group at the service of the mountain, of those who love it and practice it (Forclaz, Wedze and Inovik).

Our international design centre occupies a strategic location close to the mountains and outdoor activities, but this place is also a real "Swiss Army knife" of design and research.
There are industrial prototyping workshops and all the power of an environment that benefits from ultra-modern and cutting-edge, sometimes unique, tools.
A pool of enthusiasts and technicians who use them to create and improve our products.

Beyond the practical and logistical side, the location of the Mountain Store allows our development teams (pattern makers, engineers, designers, product managers...) to be in direct contact with nature.
We're always on the move, whether inside or around the office!
We are lucky enough to be able to go regularly outdoors in order to guarantee the products in all conditions:
From slippery paths to sunny pastures, from damp undergrowth to arid scree.
Lakes, forests, torrents, trails and paths, all the diversity of outdoor sports is within our reach!

« The advantage of having an office close to the mountain is the ease of access to privileged terrain for all outdoor sports, for observing users, testing, listening to the terrain.
We do almost all the tests in the valley, within a radius of 10 to 20 kilometres around our offices. » Pierre, Field Test Engineer

Quechua - Our concept of innovation

Our know-how and our teams at the service of innovation

The spearhead of creation in our offices are the Project Groups (business units), small teams of designers, agile and autonomous.
Each group is made up of about ten members, bringing together all the professions to create: a product manager, a product designer, a 3D designer (who models the products, guaranteeing their aesthetic appearance), as well as a product engineer and a field test engineer. 
There is also a stylist / pattern maker when it comes to textiles, a prototypist, whose creative work is complemented by that of the buyer (guarantor of product supply) and the merchandiser (who knows how to highlight our products so that you can quickly find the right answer to your needs).
All these passionate talents are physically gathered around the same table, in our large shared open spaces which smell of the granite of the nearby mountains.

All observe trends in particular, what is happening outdoors of course, but also the opinions left on our products after purchasing them which are particularly scrutinized by our product managers.
These opinions represent an important source of development and improvement to our products. Each one is analysed, to give rise to constant modifications and improvements.

In each Project Group, the roles are shared between creative people focused on the product and innovation, and professions that make it possible to guarantee economic constraints. 
In this way, we ensure the consistency of the products offered in the stores, whether for our products or those which Decathlon markets. 
Gathered around the same type of product, we work together to develop a range of hiking and camping products.
Our objective? 
Always make your life easier with smart, clever, ingenious products that translate your needs and desires into technical, innovative reality at a lower cost.

Quechua - Our concept of innovation

Research and development: 
workshops and people

On average, the development of a product takes about 18 months, from design to market. 
But even if we know how to go fast, a truly innovative product can take up to 4 or 5 years, because we also know how to take the time on projects that are out of the ordinary, such as the new 2 Seconds Easy or the Van 500 rooftop tent.

The different stages of development involve tests and prototypes, which can be developed internally for the least complex products (jackets, sleeping bags, backpacks) while it is necessary to go through external workshops as soon as the product requires a mould, like the soles of hiking boots for example.

« Prototyping consists of moving from two-dimensional models to three-dimensional objects, in joint work with pattern makers and method engineers, who have production experience. » Tiffany, prototypist

Quechua - Our concept of innovation

This prototyping takes place in one of the three Workshops (Industrial Prototyping Workshop) which extend over more than 1,000m2 and which are dedicated to textiles, accessories and tents. In each of these workshops, there is a «Fablab» allowing everything to be worked on (3D printers), a “bank of components” (fabrics, fasteners, zips, straps, etc.), and sophisticated tools. 
But it is above all the skills to operate these tools and work with these materials that are our strength, with prototypists and method engineers at the forefront of their discipline and integrated into a stimulating environment.

These workshops are of course accessible to product engineers who come here to design, modify, test solutions or even chat live, for example on customer feedback. 
This is one of our great strengths: all the teams are present on site, in the same place.

For all matters relating to materials and components, a dedicated team, based in Lille, selects or develops the best components and materials and saves all the brands in the group a lot of time, not to mention the savings represented by shared purchases.
Having your own catalogue and constantly enriching it means further strengthening an essential aspect of innovation, in consultation with all stages of development.

In addition to the specific laboratories at the Passy site, our teams benefit from the “SportsLab” at the Decathlon headquarters in Lille.
The best-known of the group's laboratories, with more than 800m2 and around forty engineers and researchers, analyses very specific scientific problems and subjects, which do not necessarily have a direct link with a production schedule.
Is is divided into 4 entities:Morphology (in particular thanks to 3D analysis), movement sciences, thermal comfort (with its four climatic chambers), behavioural and sensory sciences.

Finally, in this R&D process, we find the crucial notion of after-sales service.
All returns are centralized and returned to us. 
A defective jacket brought back to a Decathlon store will be recovered by our engineers and analysed to close the loop to the end. 
If necessary, a quality alert can even be triggered, which will stop production from a certain return rate.

Our lab and field tests: 
the dream pair

A Quechua, field test engineers (IET) make the link between the product and our customers. 
From the beginning of the development process of a product, it is a question of defining a protocol which will make it possible to test it, in particular by establishing one or more referents against which to compare.
Even before having a prototype, the engineers integrated into the Project Groups are already preparing for the tests to come. 
Some are well known, such as the comfort of a shoe, but for others ("avoiding the intrusion of gravel" for example), it will be necessary to create a protocol from scratch.

Quechua - Our concept of innovation

Tests can be separated into two main categories: those done in the lab with machines, and those done in the field with humans.

First, the Passy laboratories (nearly 2000m2 dedicated between the workshops and the test labs) are particularly well equipped with all kinds of equipment to cut up, crush, twist, tear or even trample the prototypes. Perhaps the most impressive is the “shower test”, a huge room in which impressive storms are simulated, in a rather unique and custom-built environment to test the resistance and waterproofness of the tents.

Testing with users is also essential for more subjective criteria (such as breathability or comfort) or for objective tests where we need human beings but without asking their opinion (by equipping them with sensors for example).
On average, an IET therefore organizes one test per week, which vary greatly in type and intensity. We therefore go from indoor fittings which last 10 minutes per tester, to weeks of non-stop tests (for example while trekking in a desert or on an ice pack). But before going far, the teams have a life-size playground at the Mountain Store, on the 50,000m2 site (trails and other test routes are laid out near the building, also accessible to the public) and of course in the surrounding mountains.

The results, statistics and summary of the tests will be used by the product engineer and the entire Project Group, who will be able to start again with a new prototype to iterate and test.

" The ideal test is done over several days, with a group. It's a bit like a travel agency, we will create a link between people who don't know each other but who share the pleasure of a sport and the desire to help Quechua." Pierre, Field Test Engineer

Quechua - Our concept of innovation

Co-creation, the not so secret boot

From products to the choice of colours, our co-creation platform came to reinforce in 2017 a desire that has always existed to involve practitioners in the process of creating new products, or improving existing products.
A dedicated platform makes it possible to recruit enthusiasts to give their opinion or participate in test missions. 
All Product Managers and Field Test Engineers can post ads and anyone can apply, it works great! 
We have a large community and we target people who are interested in the products we develop.

« The initial idea always comes from a customer need.
Next, it's really in Decathlon's DNA to go for it, to innovate, to think outside the box.
All brands carry out tests, but most rely on technical partners, Decathlon goes a long way in involving customers. » Pierre, Field Test Engineer

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