QVC Has Quietly Become Successful With Streaming Audiences, and Nearly Half Its Revenue Is From Ecommerce

It's just as popular online as it is as a TV network

QVC's live video is available on multiple platforms to meet the needs of its curious customers. QVC
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Quality Value Convenience, better known as QVC, has kept up with an evolving audience by adapting to technology right along with its customers.

The independently owned cable network launched in 1986 for a specific kind of audience.

“We’ve never really overly targeted a demographic, but our demographic is a by-product of what the company is,” said Doug Rose, svp of brand experience at QVC. “The people who come to shop with us think shopping should be a fun, pleasurable experience—not an errand or chore.”

The QVC audience skews female, with 90 percent of the company’s revenue coming from women, and trends toward affluent Gen Xers and baby boomers who want to stay up to date with what’s going on in the world through their retail experience. (Actress Lisa Rinna, who has a couple of QVC fashion lines, refers to her ideal QVC customer as “Shirley.”)

Rose called QVC “the ESPN for shopping fans.”

And those fans aren’t just going to channel 14, or 70, or 509 on their  TVs—they’re accessing QVC via mobile devices, its website, Roku and Apple TV, and Facebook (including dedicated pages for the retailer’s most popular hosts). QVC owns all of the video it shows and can repurpose it across platforms, on demand or simulcast live.

Ecommerce accounted for $4 billion of QVC’s $8.7 billion in annual revenue in 2016, and it represents 48 percent of its consolidated global revenue and 54 percent of its total U.S. revenue in the first quarter of 2017.

“People in the top 20 percent of our engaged customers are tuning in to our network six to nine times per day for five to 10 minutes per session,” said Peter Goodnough, vp of consumer insights and analytics at QVC. “When you add that to how frequently people visit our digital properties, they’re spending two hours with us on any given day.”

Combining the discovery of shopping with the ease of purchasing items from your own home is what allowed QVC to evolve with technology in order to keep up with consumer demands and behaviors. Developing mobile apps or streaming and smart TV apps allowed the company to stay relevant.

“Our website is only two years younger than Amazon, and our customers have been using our website community as a social network for years,” Goodnough said. “Our merchandise mix changes online every day, just as the broadcast rotates between products and programs.”

Rose said that as retail continues to evolve, “more people are craving that human element of shopping.”

Not only can QVC customers relay their comments and feedback in real time by phoning in to TV broadcasts, as they always have, but they can also participate via Facebook Live or by engaging with any of QVC’s social accounts.

QVC reaches shoppers on 15 TV channels (which reach more than 360 million homes worldwide), seven websites which totaled more than 1 billion visits in 2016, and about 195 social pages.

“At our best, we’re entertainment for them,” said Alex Miller, svp of digital commerce. “Entertainment as shopping doesn’t always end in a transaction, but we create content and serve new platforms constantly to keep up with our consumer.”

According to Mary Campbell, evp of commerce platforms, shoppers visit QVC’s mobile platforms six to eight times a day across devices. Each time one of their engaged consumers logs on or tunes in, they’re ideally seeing a new piece of content and discovering a new product.

“We combine the best of media, which is our ability to [create] content and deliver it on multiple platforms with the best of our social experiences and how it enables relationship-building and our unique retail experience,” she said.

QVC’s fastest growing platforms are mobile and apps. No matter where customers are, they can easily find sales or watch live programming. Mobile, in fact, accounted for 62 percent of the company’s global ecommerce orders and 61 percent of its U.S. ecommerce orders during the first quarter of 2017.

“The convergence of social networks, building relationships and shopping in one perfect screen means technology has finally caught up with us,” Miller said.

@samimain Sami Main is social editor for Adweek, where she posts Adweek content onto social platforms and looks for creative ways to communicate what's new.