Southern Methodist University graduate Chandler Helms is revolutionizing the way retail buyers go to wholesale markets.
Her new business-to-business app, Buyer’s Marque, puts everything boutiques and stores need in one place.
“It’s basically a digital platform for buyers to use when they’re at wholesale market. There’s been good technology on the brand side for about 10 years or so, and there hasn’t really been anything to foster technology on the buyer’s side,” Helms told Dallas Innovates.
Within the first three days of the app’s launch, it had more than 1,500 downloads.
She quit her day job in January to work on Buyer’s Marque full-time and spends her days promoting the app at trade shows in Dallas and New York, as well as other day-to-day operations of the app such as customer service. The app officially launched in February of this year in New York.
“We partnered with Coterie. It’s a giant fashion trade show in New York, just like the Fashion Industry Gallery or the Dallas Market Center in Dallas. We partnered with them and did a launch and within the first three days we had over 1,500 downloads,” Helms said.
Helms considers New York a second home base for the app, but she feels there are benefits to the startup atmosphere in North Texas.
“New York has perks too which is why I think it’s good to go back and forth between both, but the entrepreneurship community in Dallas is very nurturing and they really want to foster the growth there. Sometimes in New York you can get a little lost.”
MANY STORES STILL USING OLD SCHOOL TECHNIQUES
Helms said that the current means for buyers to keep track of what they’re putting together for their store often involves just a simple pen and paper.
“When they come to appointments, they’re looking at the new collections, they’re trying to figure out what they want to buy for their boutique or their department store. And before the app, they’re coming in with paper notebooks, a pen, and they’re taking notes by hand,” Helms said.
“It saves hours of the calculations and hand punching in the register items.”
This is extremely time-consuming and requires even more work after buyers leave their appointments to calculate their spending.
Key features of the app include keeping track of appointments, taking pictures of products and adding details such as season, price, brand, color, or sizing. Then, all that information can be exported as an Excel file that can be uploaded into an in-store register. Additionally, as users put in prices of items it calculates the amounts — so buyers know exactly where they are within their seasonal budget at all times.
“It saves hours of the calculations and hand punching in the register items. It also calculates your budget as you go,” Helms said.
APP SOLVES A NEED FOR MANY BOUTIQUES & SHOPS, TOO
Although the app is built for fashion buyers, one of its most useful features is that it can be used for any other wholesale market as well.
“You can set it up and cater it to your own needs,” Helms said.
“You can set it up and cater it to your own needs.”
She referenced stores in Dallas such as Forty Five Ten and Dear Hannah that sell more than just clothes that would find the app particularly helpful considering the range of appointments and items they have to keep track of.
“They sell candles, clothes, gifts, makeup so when they go to market they’re buying so many different categories. They’ll probably have a buyer for each section and those calculations take forever,” Helms said.
New York City-based Joor has offered an online marketplace for the fashion wholesale industry since 2010.
The Buyer’s Marque website addresses there are competitors offering similar services, but says its app is provided at a “fraction of the cost.”
ON THE HORIZON: FUNDING, MAKING THE APP ACCESSIBLE ON OTHER DEVICES
Helms invested money from her previous business venture selling clear bags compliant with NCAA safety rules for SMU games into Buyer’s Marque. She also did a round of friends and family funding earlier this year.
“I’m trying to prep the company and myself for another, larger round of funding. I’m not exactly sure what that’ll be yet,” she said.
When asked what changes she’s looking at currently for the app Helms mentioned users have requested it be usable on different types of devices.
“Right now it’s just for iPhones, but next we definitely want to have it for iPads and Androids.”