Home-shopping giants QVC and HSN reinvented themselves to build a booming live-streaming retail business, and are betting on payments tech to take it to the next level

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“As seen on TV” seems something of a throwback these days. But QVC and the Home Shopping Network (HSN) aren’t going anywhere. And they’ve seen a big boost both in their traditional broadcasts and in their digital platforms as video shopping surges in popularity.

While social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram have been slowly building in-app shopping capabilities, QVC and HSN (which operate under the same parent company Qurate Retail Group) have been transitioning to digital for years. 

Beyond their bread-and-butter broadcast channels, these legacy video shopping platforms have been building out their own digital options as well as partnering with the likes of Amazon Fire, Facebook Live, and Roku to reach shoppers outside of their living rooms.

“It’s been a multi-year investment,” Mike George, CEO of Qurate Retail Group, told Business Insider. 

“When the pandemic hit us, we were in a relatively good position in terms of the investments we’ve made and the capabilities we’ve built,” George said. 

Qurate Retail Group’s stock took a hit in March when the pandemic set in, falling to a low of $2.44 per share. It’s since recovered, and is currently trading around $7.50. In the second quarter, Qurate reported revenues of $3.4 billion, up from $2.9 billion in the first quarter. And across its brands, Qurate added 2 million new customers, a 60% increase year-over-year.

Digital platforms accounted for 60% of total US sales in the second quarter this year, both on the brands’ own websites, their Facebook and YouTube channels, and the Amazon Fire and Roku apps. As of the end of the second quarter, 3.6 million homes have downloaded the brands’ app as of July 31, 2020, a 100% increase year-over-year. 

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And while the coronavirus pandemic boosted QVC and HSN’s digital sales, George says that the shift toward digital was always in the cards. 

“It’s been an accelerant, but it’s always been our destination,” George said.

Influencers are driving the live-streamed shopping boom in China, but QVC and HSN are leaning on their own brands to lure consumers

In markets like China, live-streamed shopping via e-commerce apps and social media platforms is huge. Leading live commerce platforms include e-commerce giant Alibaba’s Taobao Live and Douyin, China’s version of TikTok. 

But this kind of shopping hinges on social media influencers, which can be expensive for brands.

“There’s a lot about that model that I think will be hard to fully replicate around the world,” George said.

“One of the challenges that I think folks are encountering in China, and also those that are trying to make a go of this in the US or Europe, is that the China model is heavily dependent on very high-profile influencers who can accumulate a big audience through their names.” 

Read more: Social media influencers are driving billions in sales in China with live-streamed commerce. An a16z partner explains why the US could be next, and the companies positioned to take advantage

As a result of that, George said, the economics of live-stream shopping largely benefit influencers, but can be cost-prohibitive for brands.

“At the end of the …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Finance

      

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