QVC has evolved its business in recent years from a TV-centric retailer to a multiplatform brand, with digital being the driving force. Already the world's leading video and e-commerce retailer with $8.8 billion in revenue last year, QVC has made it a priority to position its business for future success by better meeting the needs of today's digitally savvy consumers.
In a keynote address yesterday morning at the start of the Shop.org Digital Summit in Philadelphia, Mike George, CEO of QVC, outlined six learnings the company has gained in its transition to the next generation of digital retail.
1. Create relevancy throughout the shopping journey. This encompasses every touchpoint and interaction, from the first time someone browses your site, connects with your brand on social or downloads your mobile app all the way through product delivery and post-purchase service, George said. At QVC, the goal is to bring the inspiration and entertainment found on its television network over to its digital properties. The retailer is turning to social media, in particular Instagram and Pinterest, to inspire and entertain shoppers with its unique, can't-find-anywhere-else products, said George. Here are some more of what QVC is doing to create relevancy with its customers:
- Generate an impulse to buy: Citing a common theme throughout his presentation, George believes QVC is doing a good job at this on TV, but has room to improve online. “We have to be able to tell the on-air story online,” he noted. QVC is trying to create a more immersive digital storytelling experience by better engaging second-screen shoppers — i.e., consumers watching QVC's television network with their tablets on their laps. The retailer's tablet app, for example, offers value-added content for what's being shown on TV at that time. So if a food brand is being featured on TV, the app may include recipes featuring the products being shown, George said.
- Purchase and receive: The transaction process — all the way through to the customer receiving the product — must be seamless and frictionless for the customer, George said. For that reason, QVC was one of the first retailers to offer Touch ID to speed the purchase process.
- Own and enjoy. Engage the customer after they've received the product, George said. QVC emails its customers shortly after their purchase with value-added content, such as videos on how to best use the product.
2. Invite the brand into the experience. As QVC worked to build its digital presence, there were struggles, George acknowledged. “On-air wasn't manifesting itself online,” George noted. “The online experience was flat, static.” To remedy this problem, QVC has emphasized rich storytelling online — it's taken cues from its recent acquisition, Zulily — along with a new site redesign. Furthermore, the retailer is doing a better job at integrating social into its website.
3. Embrace the transformative power of mobile. Like e-commerce, QVC was an early adopter to mobile as well. However, the retailer was skeptical that its customers would embrace mobile. It was wrong. QVC is now one of the top three mobile retailers. It's gotten there by providing consumers the same robust, full experience on mobile as they get on QVC's desktop site; making its platform responsive; incorporating rich HD videos into its mobile strategy; among other things. “We design for the small screen first,” George said. QVC's focus on mobile is paying off. Conversion rates for the channel are way up, George noted.
4. Build relationships. QVC is working to extend the reach of its brand, with social media being a focal point. “Social enables word-of-mouth,” George said. The retailer's social investments are on trying to create deep engagement, not necessarily sell products. QVC eschews common tactics such as coupons, contests and giveaways to drive purchases. “By not worrying about commerce, and instead focusing on engagement, commerce has naturally flowed,” noted George.
5. Satiate the content beast. QVC has brought together its editors, videographers and photographers into one agnostic platform, said George. That department is tasked with creating purposeful content assets that add value to QVC shoppers' experiences. George again cited Zulily as an asset to QVC as it looks to add more content to its digital platforms.
6. Continuously reinvent the organization. “Change is constant,” said George, particularly in online retailing. QVC was at first siloed, then became omnichannel; today is about finding the right balance between the two, George said. Areas of focus for the brand include local and global; and technology and commerce alignment. “We're bringing teams together to give our customers a great experience,” George said.