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Intersport reduces new product data processing time by 50%

INTERSPORT, the global sporting goods retailer, has reported a 50% reduction in product data processing time, partnering with leading (AI) artificial intelligence platform Unifai, an Akeneo company.  Leveraging the Unifai solution which uses AI and ML-powered data onboarding to automatically standardise, enrich and categorises product catalogues, has enabled INTERSPORT to significantly increase speed time to market, while optimising purchasing spend and improving performance monitoring.

Founded in 1968, INTERSPORT, which reported retail sales of EUR 13.7 billion in 2022, now has 5,300 affiliated stores in 42 countries, including UK & Ireland, where it operates 270 outlets, as well as Europe, Australia and China.  Each INTERSPORT store is independently owned and run, so it can offer the best advice, guidance and value for its sports products and services with an understanding of the local customer and community at the heart of its offer.

Annually, INTERSPORT France integrates and classifies nearly 1.5 million new products from 500 different brands into the central product catalogue offered out to individual stores – an activity previously implemented manually by a team of seven people.

During its six annual buying windows, all brand partners provide product catalogues to its HQ in the same short period of time, giving INTERSPORT just one month to process and centralise all product data, which is then released to individual stores from them to place orders with suppliers.  Any delays to this process, which relies on fast, efficient and accurate product information management (PIM) processes, risks product records being created locally, rendering them unusable across several of INTERSPORT’s internal workflows, including web and auto-restocking, leading to manual interventions, inconsistent Product Experience (PX) and potential lost sales.

INTERSPORT had already been successfully leveraging Akeneo’s leading PIM solution to ensure it has accurate and consistent product catalogues across all its internal and shopper-facing touchpoints.  However, it recognised that to further enhance its PIM processes, it needed to automate the data classification process to achieve greater speed to market while guaranteeing the uniqueness of item codes on its network, an essential requirement for budget tracking as well as sell-out and inventory tracking across its ecommerce operations and in-store. INTERSPORT selected Unifai, one of the most adopted of Akeneo’s suite of AI for PX apps and solution providers available on its App store.

“We chose Unifai to automate the categorisation of all our new products, which saved us from costly and time-consuming development.  The powerful acceleration we’ve been enjoying in recent months has allowed us to cut the time it takes to integrate new products into the relevant universes in half, optimise purchases from our members, and improve the customer experience with products that are well referenced on all touchpoints,” commented Matthieu Pellet, Director of Digital Transformation at INTERSPORT France.

Previously, manually processing a catalogue of 8,000 products took INTERSPORT approximately a week.  Now it can be completed in 2 to 3 days, with some catalogues completed in just one hour, without compromising the accuracy of the data.  This frees up time for the data integration team and buyers to source new products and optimise the product mix, ensuring that its customers have the best selection of sporting goods available to them. 

“Seeing the significant business benefits Unifai delivered for our joint customers, including INTERSPORT, was a key driver behind our recent acquisition of Unifai, “Fred de Gombert, CEO and founder of Akeneo, said.  “By integrating Unifai’s AI/ML capabilities alongside Akeneo’s supplier data onboarding solution, a typical customer can expect to achieve 50% time savings with 98% accuracy in data onboarding processes.”

Following the acquisition of Unifai, Akeneo will further help retail businesses protect their brands from AI stumbling blocks by creating the first ever AI for PX Centre of Excellence.  This initiative will openly share with PX professionals the best practices for applying AI to PX, the pitfalls and the latest innovations to ensure the creation of convenient, tailored experiences that drive customer satisfaction, loyalty and ultimately, revenue growth.