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New Balance Leans on Tech to Catch Nike and Adidas

New Balance is looking to revitalize both the front and back ends of its retail business with modern technology solutions. The athleticwear and footwear company is deploying cloud-based applications from retail technology provider Aptos across its operations in both North America and Europe, aiming to modernize customer experiences through expanded fulfillment options, optimized merchandise availability and more seamless channel interactions.

In addition to its manufacturing operations in the U.S. and the U.K., New Balance operates more than 130 owned retail stores across North America and Europe.

The Aptos technology deployment will touch nearly every aspect of New Balance’s retail operations, from how the company engages with shoppers through the point of sale and CRM, to how orders are captured and fulfilled with the company’s Order Management System. Additionally, the brand is leveraging Aptos’s Merchandise Planning and Merchandising solutions to improve how inventory is planned and managed across channels.

New Balance also will use Aptos’ data solutions including Aptos Analytics and Sales Audit, as well as the company’s cloud-native, mobile-first Aptos One microservices-based SaaS platform, which is designed to remove all dependencies on store servers, leverage open standards and deliver an API-driven architecture that helps retailers avoid ripping and replacing legacy technologies.

Reporting worldwide sales of $4 billion in 2019, New Balance is looking to catch up with competitors including Nike, Adidas, Puma and Under Armour. Looking at last year’s sales number, the athletic wear firm stilled lagged its closest competitors Puma ($5.93 billion) and Under Armour ($5.27 billion), so the addition of a modern tech platform could be pivotal.

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As an end-to-end retailer technology provider, Aptos sought to move fast when the pandemic hit the U.S., launching four products specifically designed to help navigate through the challenges the crisis posed. These “Quick Start” solutions offer rapid implementation and tackle pressing Covid-related issues, from managing unsold spring stock to fulfilling product at curbside to restarting relationships with global suppliers.

New Balance made waves last year when it entered the basketball sneaker market for the first time in partnership with the National Basketball Association, developing sneakers for NBA superstar Kawhi Leonard.

“For more than 100 years, New Balance has been a brand and business in motion—we were born to move,” Stephanie Smith, vice president of retail North America at New Balance, said in a statement. “The same energy and passion that we invest in our products, people and communities can be found in our commitment to offering modern, differentiated and highly satisfying customer experiences.”

New Balance recently onboarded AI-powered fashion trend forecasting and demand sensing technology Stylumia with the aim of better positioning its inventory to the right consumer, through the right channel and at the right price.