Buyer Profile: Trend Nation

By: Katy Albrecht, Buyer Relations Coordinator

Like many success stories, began small with an innovative recipe: identify customer demand, disrupt the market and delight the customer. It wasn’t until the wife of Brad Howard, founder of Trend Nation LLC, came home with a purse hook that this e-commerce site fled into becoming one of the fastest growing companies in the country.

Back in 2007, when Brad’s girlfriend, now wife, purchased a purse hook, he couldn’t help but to notice the attention it was getting from women. Naturally, his inner entrepreneur came out and he gave her the idea of selling these purse hooks as a side project to help her get through school. What started as a side project, led to what Trend Nation has become today - a multi-channeled e-commerce site with 60 full-time employees, an estimated 85 employees in the mere future and over 15,000 products in stock.

Beginning their company with Silverhooks.com, Trend Nation moved from their home in Cleveland, Ohio to Northern Las Vegas in hopes of gaining national attention. The move took a great turn for Howard, who now has a 35,000 square foot warehouse full of merchandise. They now operate seven websites, selling a variety of trending items: Silverhooks.com, Baglane.com, Crystalcase.com, Healthinstyle.com, Reusablerevolution.com, Cuffcrazy.com, and Walletnation.com.

“We embrace consumers where they shop. Consumers shop in different ways, have different personalities,” said Howard. “They shop every where, so we want to be every where.”

As a true e-commerce online retailer, like Amazon, eBay, Buy, Sears, Newegg, and Overstock, Howard points to the success of his strategy: data. The company’s buyers uses data to figure out what’s “trending” in the marketplace, buy high and sell quickly. So, how can predictive analytic research be used effectively? Howard relies on the theory that it is  “20% gut and 80% science and data.”
Trend Nation buyers attend 30 tradeshows throughout the year, including the OFFPRICE Show during Fashion Week in Las Vegas. His first visit began in 2010, when he was walking the floor at MAGIC and noticed a person carrying an OFFPRICE bag. He approached them, found out more information about OFFPRICE and since then has attended every show.

“If you see a group of buyers walking around the [OFFPRICE] Show with iPads in their hands at all times, you know that’s us,” says Howard.

Howard and his buyers walk the show floor, take a look at merchandise that catches their eyes, pull out their iPads for real-time data, and predict on the spot how well that product will sell. They look for everything from small leather goods to health and beauty, women’s fashion to men’s accessories. However, Howard admits that this data-based strategy took time to develop.  
“The first time we attended the [OFFPRICE] Show, there was a closeout run on Valeo weight belts” said Howard, “I wrote a $19,000 check for a product that I have never seen before, and it was a tremendous success.” Today, “placing a bet” is not in the cards for Howard. When buying, they keep their minds focused on what products are trending, how much will sell for and how to negotiate better.

“The [OFFPRICE] Show has been a great margin builder for us,” says Howard, “there are certain brands at the [OFFPRICE] show that other shows won’t have, and for that we will continue to support the show.”
A simple purse hook and an incredibly motivated team have fueled the growth of seven successful e-commerce stores.  By following trends, buying specifically for his customers and being as current as possible with his products, Howard has built his online stores to cater to his clientele. “We are data-driven and that’s why OFFPRICE is a great show for us.”
 

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