New Balance had a problem. Nike owned the lion’s share of the athletic shoe market and no one could touch them. New Balance was also behind Adidas and Reebok, but something happened in the last two years that changed everything. Nike also had a problem. They had gotten so big that customer relations became a low priority. Nike controlled the market and dictated supply and demand to even their biggest customers. Consumer input was ignored and requests for special orders of customer demand products were met with indifference. Nike gave and Nike took away, at their discretion, to reward or punish retailers for Nike’s benefit.
Then along came New Balance, who six years ago was almost out of the game. New Balance got serious about forecasting and it paid off. There were several problems to fix, so a new system was created with hardware, software, reports and fast communications to aid and drive the sales and manufacturing force as one. This system worked so great it revolutionized the company’s sales, marketing, manufacturing, and customer service. Over the last two years New Balance has revolutionized their inventory tracking, marketing communication, marketing research, simplified their sales projection with instant forecast reports, given sales and sales management the production tools they need, and enabled manufacturing production lead time to be cut by 30 days. In example, Foot Locker and Sports Authority, and now the end consumer are able to express their need and have a quick response by New Balance. With the New Balance advanced tracking system a larger part of the risk is taken out of new designs, fad demands and bad selling items. The information, facts, quotes and details under the following headings are from Barrett and Gallager (2003), New Balance: Shoe Fits, November 1, Issue 24, Case 093, Baseline Magazine.
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