The specialised world of fashion buying is about to be revolutionised and no, the revolution did not begin in Paris, New York or Milan. It has begun in the Wexford town of Gorey thanks to the efforts of seasoned fashion buyer and boutique owner Niamh Byrne and her husband Cyril through their new start-up Buyerpix.
Created by professional buyers, Buyerpix is a dedicated platform designed for every stage of buying and enables buyers to manage suppliers, orders, budgets, photographing, tagging, categorising and filtering.
Niamh Byrne is best known as owner of the successful Ruby Rouge boutique in Gorey town, which has developed and fostered a loyal local and nationwide following through word-of-mouth and social media.
“The app serves as a buying assistant that allows buyers to take pictures, record spend and not go over-budget”
Cyril, a tech professional, began helping Niamh manage the back-office, social, online and e-commerce aspects of the business and they have now embarked on a start-up journey with Buyerpix, a new app aimed at helping fashion buyers stay on top of their game.
“We’ve always watched the trends,” said Niamh. “For example, we have amassed over 100,000 followers through Kate Friday, a local customer who became a model, and is now a cult fashion figure.”
Managing stock and ensuring shrewd purchasing decisions while visiting fashion shows abroad presented the perfect storm of problems for Cyril to build BuyerPix as a platform for buyers based out of Hatch Lab in Gorey, the innovation hub developed in partnership between Bank of Ireland and Wexford County Council. Hatch Lab just recently celebrated its second anniversary and has become a vibrant hub for start-ups, multinationals and co-working.
“The app serves as a buying assistant that allows buyers to take pictures, record spend and not go over-budget,” Cyril explained. “It captures big data about what buyers are buying and allows them to share information with suppliers, categorise sizing and tag styles.”
Dedicated follower of fashion? There’s an app for that
Niamh explained that the e-commerce side of the business began as a natural evolution for Ruby Rouge. “We’ve seen massive growth online and while we considered opening other outlets in other towns the e-commerce push made more sense.
“It is a complex business because you have to decide between what is in-season and make shrewd decisions about what will be in-season six months from now. What that means in business terms is you are splitting you budget typically over three seasons at a time and that is hard to ”
“Kate Friday was something we started on a Friday night when a customer became a model and we found that women all over the country related to her and she was able to help them visualise themselves wearing the clothes. Kate Friday then became a cult fashion figure in Ireland and it went from there. We now have more than 100,000 followers on Facebook and it became a fountain of amazing content.”
The journey of managing stock for an online customer base and keeping the business efficient as it grew led to Cyril developing a number of different back-office technologies for managing inventory, scheduling and also helping Niamh to stay organised while she went on buying expeditions to Paris, London and elsewhere in the fashion world.
“A huge amount of effort goes into the buying process,” Niamh explained. “I would buy usually six months in advance but also in-season. I attend shows, visit showrooms where agents and middlemen conduct business. It is a complex business because you have to decide between what is in-season and make shrewd decisions about what will be in-season six months from now. What that means in business terms is you are splitting you budget typically over three seasons at a time and that is hard to track.”
They say that necessity is the mother of invention and by Cyril creating an app to help Niamh smoothly navigate the frenetic world of fashion-buying, Buyerpix was born.
“It started out as a way of helping Niamh capture images of clothes, tag them and keep track of budget. It evolved into a platform built for buyers, where the app serves as a buying assistant and photos are saved to the cloud with meta data that includes price, mark-up and margin.”
Cyril added that there is an AI element to what Buyerpix is doing with its app and the plan is to gather big data to then feed accurate information to suppliers which in turn will inform the overall supply chain about trends and commerce.
On a practical level for buyers, Niamh explained that being able to input and categorise based on customers’ sizing and preferences also enables her to set parameters for what she will buy before attending the big fashion events.
After beta testing the platform for two years and working in collaboration with other boutiques, Buyerpix is ready to go to market.
“It’s about being ready to capture the next big selling opportunity,” Niamh said. “The one thing that fashion buyers need is speedy decision-making, and we are ready for the next seasons to begin and support buyers.”
As they build BuyerPix into their next successful business, they say that the Hatch Lab has given them the space to create the right image for prospective customers. “It has given us the space to develop and grow and factors like the boardroom space and the quality of the facility make it the ideal place to bring clients,” said Cyril.
Written by John Kennedy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Published: 3 October, 2019