QVC develops multi-channel proposition with content at the heart
Ahead of taking part in a panel discussion at the Retail Bulletin 5th annual Omni-channel Summit 2014 on February 5th in London Steve Bridgeman, chief merchandising officer at QVC UK, highlights how the TV specialist is leveraging its high quality content onto other channels.
“Our heritage is TV and we’re looking to use this on other platforms. It’s a real strength for us as we really understand video and recognise what the customer wants to know from content. We produce 17 hours of content each day whereas others are not capable of doing this,” he says.
Like other retailers QVC is in the process of “layering” these other channels on to its core established route to market taking it multi-channel but Bridgeman acknowledges that stores-based retailers might have some additional challenges on this journey.
“It’s more difficult to get people going in the same direction if you’ve got stores as you need to change their focus. They need to see the benefits of servicing the customer in a different way [where the sale might ultimately be transacted online]. They might not see their efforts rewarded,” he says, adding that distance sellers like QVC also tend to have everybody located in a single or a few locations that helps create a consistent strategy compared with having employees scattered across hundreds of stores.
QVC also has a single distribution facility whereby it operates with a centralised inventory – which gives it the enviable single view of stock that would make most multi-channel retailers very envious.
Despite clearly having some advantages over stores-based retailers QVC is not resting on its laurels. It is continuing to develop its capabilities on mobile devices, with Bridgeman saying mobile and tablet sales are growing at a “phenomenal” rate.
E-commerce typically accounts for 30% of sales – rising to up to 40% at Christmas – and 50% of these are via apps, smart-phones and tablets when people are either at home or on the move. “Mobile is now more important than the PC business,” he says.
QVC has been successfully linking these new platforms to its core TV channels via social media. “People recognise social media is important but it is run independently not as part of the sales and customer education piece. We bring tweets and Facebook [posts] onto the TV channel. We’ll answer in real time on TV any questions people have asked in-the-moment on social media. We’ve taken these various channels and weaved them together,” he says.
This two-screen type experience has been recognised as an area of great opportunity for QVC. Bridgeman says that technologies like Shazam make it possible to have an app on a mobile device listen to the TV channel and to create media-meshing.
The TV and the device can then work in tandem to dramatically improve the engagement and experience of the customer. This would be particularly useful when the customer has recorded the programme and watches it at a later date and their device can then be synched to it.
“We’ve not launched this yet but we will be launching an iPad app that will give this social experience, which takes us on this journey of integrating the various channels,” he reveals.
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