How QVC is Using Social Media to Build Community and Increase Customer Loyalty
For omnichannel retailer QVC, social shopping isn't so much about the platform consumers are using (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.), it's about consumers talking with each other about shopping via word-of-mouth. For example, "I like that shirt, where did you get it?" That's social shopping, according to Alex Miller, the senior vice president of e-commerce at QVC. Miller was a keynote speaker yesterday at the eTail East conference in Philadelphia.
QVC's predominantly female customer base — approaching 90 percent — is as passionate about shopping as most men are about sports, Miller said. Therefore, QVC needs to be ready to engage this passionate fan base anywhere and any time they choose to engage with the brand, whether it be calling into one of its live TV broadcasts, asking a question of the retailer on Twitter or posting a product review on QVC's website.
That customer interaction is increasingly taking place on social sites and mobile devices. Mobile and social are critical to the next stage of retail, Miller said. With that in mind, QVC has made change the new normal so that it's prepared for the constant evolution of consumers' shopping behavior. A good example of this is the social element it's created around the In the Kitchen with David franchise.
David Venable is the most popular host on QVC. His show airs on the network every Wednesday night and draws comparable ratings to shows on other major networks. To capitalize on David's loyal fan base, QVC created an In the Kitchen with David mobile app. Users of the app can find their favorite kitchen and food brands, read David's recipes, get access to special promotions, follow David beyond the show, and more. Not only is the app driving customer engagement, it's helping to drive revenues as well. The In the Kitchen with David franchise is responsible for $600 million in sales.
Create engagement opportunities around great people and brands, and the sales will follow, Miller advised the audience.
QVC's next big digital initiative is an in-house social site called "toGather." Currently in beta (general availability is slated for this fall), the Pinterest-esque site enables QVC's like-minded customers to gather together. The site embraces QVC's definition of social shopping — QVC hosts, employees and customers are able to shop from each other on the site. With toGather, QVC is leveraging Facebook's platform to learn more about its customers — e.g., the types of fashion they prefer. Currently users of toGather need to log into the site via Facebook, but that's likely to change going forward, Miller said.
According to Miller, the next generation of retail will be focused on three "i's": interactive, integrated and inclusive. The customer experience needs to be all three. QVC is laying the groundwork now for future success by investing time and resources to make these goals today's reality.