Case Study

A True Omnichannel Experience

Wearables, mobile, and more: a seamless and personalized experience for athletes and customers.

For more than 100 years, New Balance has helped athletes achieve excellence, with a fundamental belief that we were born to move. Myplanet partnered with New Balance to evolve their digital ecosystem and deliver an omnichannel experience that unifies web, mobile, and wearable platforms.

  • Design research & persona development
  • User testing & analysis
  • UX, content & personalization strategy
  • Interface & user experience design
  • Early product validation
  • Native and hybrid mobile applications
  • Conversational interfaces (bots)
  • Middleware implementation
  • Machine learning model integration
  • Prototyping and new product launch strategy
  • Digital customer experience strategy
  • Agile software development
  • Continuous improvement
The Challenge

New Balance is one of America’s premier made-in-America athletics brands, blending function and fashion in each of its products. With customers ranging from everyday consumers to professional athletes, New Balance has embraced digital as a core piece of its roadmap.

In 2015, New Balance approached Myplanet with a request to take their digital ecosystem to the next level. New Balance needed a mobile application to drive customer loyalty. At the same time, with an expanding customer base, NB was keen to establish a “single view of the customer” that could unify marketing data about the omnichannel customer journey to support their marketing employees. The loyalty application would need to integrate the 500Friends loyalty system and an existing Demandware ecommerce platform—all without a single hiccup in the end user experience.

As work began on the loyalty application, New Balance soon asked Myplanet to explore the potential for adding digital shopping and digital sports functionality to their ecosystem. In particular, a new wearable athletics device would need to fit logically into the overall digital New Balance experience.

The Strategy

With a preliminary focus on the loyalty application, we first sought to understand how the most loyal New Balance customers interacted with the brand. Customers seemed most connected in store, at events, and during their actual athletic activities. Check-ins and activity integration became clear avenues for furthering the brand relationship.

While loyalty would form the backbone of the application, the addition of digital shopping and digital sports functionality helped widen the scope and appeal of the application.

Given the relative newness of the NB digital ecosystem, it made sense to integrate these experiences, rather than splinter audiences among multiple applications. When this takes off, in the future, more targeted applications can be created.

Andrew Semuschak, Associate Director of Design, Myplanet

In essence, the integration of shopping, loyalty, and product features would help break down barriers between usage, commerce and loyalty, and facilitate the customer transformation from buyer to user to brand fan. If validated, these use cases could extend into their own pockets of the ecosystem in the future, with a dedicated application serving each. Likewise, in regions where only certain use cases were supported, the single MyNB application would flex its depth of functionality to ensure a cohesive experience.

Sketches and flow diagrams to chart the typical paths taken by key personas were critical in building a holistic vision of the design.

The Solution

To ensure a seamless experience, Myplanet delivered a hybrid application, affectionately entitled MyNB. MyNB supports loyalty and digital sports scenarios with native functionality, and integrates New Balance’s existing Demandware commerce platform to provide a web-based digital shopping view. In short, MyNB is a one-stop shop for the entire New Balance digital experience—with a scalable architecture to support future features and functionality. What’s more, the experience itself is extensible to new digital products. As Myplanet undertook the design and development of MyNB, we also engaged with New Balance to design and build the OEM application for their first digital sports product: the Android-based RunIQ wearable watch.

Spotlight on:
Designing and Building an OEM watch app.

The RunIQ watch is the first digital sports wearable from New Balance. New Balance asked Myplanet to design, test, and build the core application, which ships on an Android wearable device designed and built by Intel.

A native OEM application is not any old third-party app. In the case of RunIQ, the OEM application represents the core functionality of the wearable. The app runs continuously on the device, and must deliver a responsive, performant user experience on demand. Myplanet undertook a rigorous process of research, design, development, and real-world testing to deliver the core application for RunIQ.

The Strategy

Today, the wearable device market is saturated with fitness products. To help New Balance differentiate the RunIQ, we embraced the ideal of an untethered experience. The device would need to be freed from the constraint of a nearby mobile phone to make the RunIQ essential and frictionless for athletes. But it would still need to support advanced features like bluetooth audio and dynamic data visualizations. Integrating key technologies from Intel, Google, and Strava helped make this vision a reality.

The Solution:
Integrating with Strava

Listening to music without being locked to a phone is a major feature for the RunIQ. Since so many runners enjoy music as part of their sport, New Balance was keen to supplement the RunIQ’s informative, easy-to-access athletic metrics with technology from a partner that truly understood the importance of music to an athlete. And because Strava also stores any data collected by the RunIQ throughout a run, Myplanet’s technical approach ensured secure integration of the Strava app to protect user privacy.

Watch performance

As an OEM application, the RunIQ app runs continuously, and this can sap power rapidly. We worked closely with the NB team and their partners to understand how software could support hardware to optimize the experience. For example, when not in use, the watch triggers an ambient mode that reduces battery consumption. Everything down to the presence of a second hand on the clock was considered to maximize battery life. This means that the RunIQ can last the duration of a marathon—if you’re up for the challenge.

Out of RunIQ, Strava, and Runtastic, RunIQ is my favorite Android Wear app to use to track running on this watch, mostly because it shows a variety of stats during a workout.

https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2017/03/runiq-review-new-balance-goes-after-runners-with-android-wear-and-strava/

Read more about RunIQ at Wearable.com.

Outcome & Next Steps

Since its launch in May of 2015, the MyNB app has become the central mechanism for the New Balance digital strategy. As a platform, it empowers New Balance to understand their customers, test new marketing and product ideas, and motivate their fans to become the best athletes they can. MyNB has seen over 150,000 downloads and a 4-star rating on both the Apple app store and Google Play store.

As part of the New Balance digital ecosystem, the RunIQ watch received great acclaim when it was revealed at CES 2017. Stuff Magazine named the RunIQ one of the top 10 wearable devices at CES, and the product went on sale in February of 2017.

Whether it's from the main screen or the app drawer, you can quickly jump into a tracked running or cycling session through the dedicated Strava app. It looks very slick and well optimised for the small screen letting you view data like lap counts, heart rate zones and distances.

https://www.wareable.com/smartwatches/new-balance-runiq-review
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