2019 was a big year for Trendalytics. We had a lot of exciting product releases and updates, moved into a new office, and worked tirelessly to improve our users’ experience. Our newly launched trend trajectory buckets group trends based on behavior to easily identify growing and dying trends, and our trend indicators simplify even the most complex metrics to drive less thinking and more action. We spoke to the product team behind the launch to give you firsthand insight into the latest round of platform advancements. Jen Chang and Rachelle Tai both joined Trendalytics in 2018, and it’s been their mission to disrupt the way retailers absorb data.
Here’s what they had to say about life in product, the app they can’t live without, and what you can expect from us next.
Hometown / Favorite Food / Guilty Pleasure:
Jen: Wayne, NJ / Chicken Fingers / Crazy Nail Art
Rachelle: Hong Kong / Sushi / Mystery-Crime Fiction
Describe yourself in 3 words:
Jen: Curious, Analytical, Balanced
Rachelle: Calm, Thoughtful, Peacekeeper
Why did you leave retail for retail tech, and why Trendalytics?
Jen: I have been on the business side of retail for a long time, and this is where I grew up. I learned so much about what it takes to drive a retail business forward and keep it growing year after year. During this time, my focus and interest had predominantly been in data and analytics, and I was always looking to learn more. How I ended up at Trendalytics is a story of happenstance. I was at a retail tech conference and saw Karen Moon, one of our founders, speaking about Trendalytics and her vision for the future of retail, and it really excited me. I knew this was where the industry was headed, and I also knew most retailers were not equipped to get there on their own. I wanted to be at Trendalytics sitting in the driver’s seat driving change, not the backseat along for the ride. And luckily for me, Trendalytics was looking for their first product manager and the rest is history =)
Rachelle: I think I’m still very part of the traditional retail landscape mentally, given that I am empathetic towards the people in it so that I can create the best product from them. Being on the technology side is where I think the future is heading and where I believe the best solutions to current problems can be created. Trendalytics does just that, using technology to solve current merchant headaches.
What is the current retail landscape, and where is it heading?
Jen: There is a lot of talk about the ‘retail apocalypse,’ however, I believe retail is stronger than ever. It’s just at another pivotal evolutionary moment. Customer behaviors and preferences are changing quickly: they are more distracted, more price-conscious, more impatient, and more discerning. But at the end of the day, they still want to look and feel good. Retailers that will continue to survive and thrive are ones that can evolve with the consumers.
When dissected down the core, there are three major themes retailers need to take a hard look at if they want to weather the storm. First is their mindset and how they are continuing to innovate and challenge their current ways of thinking and doing. The second is how they continue to develop and build upon their relationship with their customers. The third is how they are leveraging technology and internal/external data to draw the connection between what they are selling and what their customers are looking for.
Rachelle: I think the current retail landscape is slowly responding to the reality that people don’t consume (buy things) the way they used to. Traditional advertisement does not work anymore, and just because your business has been successful does not mean it’ll continue to succeed. Consumers are curious, and they have control over the things they buy and the way they buy more than ever before. Retailers need to be smarter and respond quickly to changing demands.
Change won’t happen overnight. We (at Trendalytics) capture all that consumer sentiment and organize them into indicators for you to assess. Some indicators differ between our clients and we help you understand what your customers are resonating with. We find signals in the consumer’s engagement with certain styles, brands, retailers, and social media so that we can alleviate the guesswork when you develop incremental changes to apply in your business.
What is your vision for Trendalytics? Anything exciting on the horizon?
Jen: Our mission at Trendalytics is to enable retailers to make more profitable inventory decisions through data. Retailers are great at being internal looking. They have rich historical sales numbers and customer data at their disposal. However, it’s much harder for them to see what their consumers are looking for outside of their stores, and oftentimes this is the missing piece when they are trying to predict demand on specific trends one year out.
Trendalytics’ goal is to be able to bridge that knowledge gap by surfacing up these important consumer demand signals at the different stages of a trend’s lifecycle. These indicators when combined with a retailer’s own internal data and know-how, in essence, become predictive for their business. This allows them to make future assortment and inventory decisions with confidence. We’ve just released TrendPulse 3.0 this month which includes a lot of new features and updates centered around this and have other surprises in store this year!
Rachelle: From a product experience perspective, we are always working on enhancing the way you absorb data and understand information that has not been available for you before. My hope for Trendalytics is for us to be the data source that supports you and provide visuals to help you present a case for your business-profiting ideas. We aim to create a clean, no-noise platform so you can easily and quickly find what you need to get on with your daily workflow. That includes faster exporting capabilities, sharing information with your team, or simply getting alerted when a trend you follow has some significant movement! That’s when you are outside of the platform. When you’re in it, we want you to feel like you’ve got eyes on everything, and keep coming back to discover new things.
What inspired you to create TrendPulse3.0?
Jen: The core of what we do is to solve our user’s biggest pain points. How can we make their lives easier? The easiest way to do that is to ask. The genesis of TrendPulse 3.0 was based on user feedback and through live customer interviews. Understanding our user’s day to day workflow and what they are trying to achieve really formed the basis of our new Trend Trajectory classifications, TrendDiscovery home page, and TopTrends Dashboard.
Rachelle: Our clients inspire us to do better! Our platform has been a work-in-progress for a long time and our clients have been very patient in learning with us. The more I learn about the way people have been utilizing our data the more I think it can be simplified. Data should not be overwhelming. TrendPulse 3.0 is our effort to KonMari the platform.
What helps you close the gap between product requests and what makes the final cut?
Jen: I think there are a few good questions to ask when it comes to triaging product requests. Does it stick to our core vision? How many of our users will find value in it? How much value? Is it a need to have or a nice to have? How long will it take to build and how many resources does it require to build? The answers to all of these questions help us prioritize which features or updates we need to focus on first and which should come later. It’s an on-going evaluation, and we are constantly reassessing our product roadmap to make sure we’re always delivering the right product at the right time (just like our clients)!
Rachelle: When it comes to design, there are certain principles and standards I adhere to. To be competitive from a UI standpoint, data analytics platforms generally showcase their data visualization capabilities and their ability to highlight what is most important from a large dataset. I look at the products being used in the market today and assess what is good vs. bad design, and try to apply the good ones in the Trendalytics platform. When it is about functionality and features, it becomes a balance between business requirements and user needs. We apply the 80/20 rule; which is if 80% of stakeholders need it, we should have it.
What attributes make a product manager or a product designer successful?
Jen: Open-mindedness, strong listening/communication/relationship-building skills (basically people skills), and decisiveness. However, I think there are specific types of people who would also enjoy being a product manager, which I think is equally as important. These are individuals who are lifelong learners, who love solving puzzles, who never stop asking why, and who are not afraid of failing.
Rachelle: Be empathetic towards your clients, and have the ability to take in feedback — constructive or not. Be open-minded and welcome opinions from different perspectives. I intentionally detach myself from the designs so that I can have the mental space to listen to other people, regardless of their user profile or which persona they fit in. Understand that your developers are your best allies. Since they are the ones building the product, I try to always ask them how I can make their work easier. A little communication can go a long way.
What is your favorite product or app, and why?
Jen: One of the simplest and useful apps out there is Splitwise. My friends and I travel together a lot, and it’s always a pain figuring out who owes what at the end of a trip. This app is great at keeping track of everyone’s spending and providing an aggregated tally at the end.
Rachelle: I don’t have a favorite, but I recently started tracking my health with Apple and thus using the Apple Health app a lot. I like that it tells me what I’ve achieved for the day and also gives me an assessment in comparison with previous achievements.
What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self?
Jen: Every day is a new learning experience, and you should never be afraid to start over.
Rachelle: Read more, and ask more questions.
If you’re interested in becoming a member and want to learn more about trends that are growing — and dying, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.