QVC navigates into the next generation of retail
Talking With ... Mike George, QVC President and CEO
The way consumers watch television and shop has changed quite a bit since 1986, when QVC first started selling items through TV broadcasts, but the brand still resonates with today’s shopper. QVC TV reached more than 300 million homes worldwide in 2014, and its e-commerce sites received more than 880 million visits. With $8.8 billion in revenue in 2014, QVC has successfully navigated the changing times with its savvy approach to integrating platforms and keeping the customer first.
QVC President and CEO Mike George will be discussing the evolution of QVC’s e-commerce strategy at the upcoming Shop.org Digital Summit in October. Before he takes the stage, he took some time to share some thoughts about embracing digital and bringing it into the business.
Describe how QVC has embraced digital into the business. How has the web and digital innovation changed your strategy in recent years?
At QVC, we see digital as an extension of our brand and aim to deliver our expertise in video content, storytelling and discovery across all platforms, including web, tablet and mobile. We want our customers to receive a seamless and consistent brand experience no matter how they choose to engage with us.
Digital innovation is changing the face of retail and e-commerce, and we have made investments to be flexible and nimble in our content strategy and customer engagement model. With responsive design, we can leverage our content across multiple screens and deliver optimized experiences for our customers across the range of device types and sizes. This allows us to keep pace with innovation, so when new products arise — like the Apple Watch — we are able to seamlessly bring the QVC experience to our customers on that channel.
In your last quarterly report, you noted that mobile accounted for 49 percent of QVC’s e-commerce sales. How do you see mobile changing the retail industry going forward?
QVC has experienced rapid growth in mobile over the past few years and it continues to be our fastest growing platform. As more consumers use mobile phones as their entry point to e-commerce, engagement on these devices is essential to attract and retain customers. With a growing consumer preference to shop via mobile, more retailers are adopting a mobile-first design philosophy with easy navigation and mobile optimized content. At QVC, we’re also seeing that mobile devices act as a companion to the television experience. This highlights the importance of platform innovation and our continued focus on delivering a truly engaging and personalized consumer experience across all platforms.
QVC has always used storytelling and entertainment to help sell products on TV. How has the web and social media changed your approach to combining content and commerce?
Our brand is built on our community of hosts and product experts who bring products to life through stories and demonstrations. Web and social media provide QVC with additional touchpoints to bring this content and the discovery-based shopping experience online in meaningful and engaging ways. For example, our customers can tune in to live TV programming directly through the QVC for iPad app and follow and engage with our brand and hosts on Facebook and Instagram. We’ve integrated social elements into our dotcom experience which enable customers to “heart” their favorite items and create collections as well as follow their favorite QVC host. We do this in a way that brings humanity to our digital experience and is interactive and community-focused, serving as an extension to our brand that complements the TV experience.
As Zulily joins the QVC Group, what excites you most about this development?
QVC and Zulily are two highly complementary businesses with compatible core audiences. Zulily’s focus on Millennial moms aligns nicely with QVC’s established audience of women ages 35 to 65. Joining forces is a phenomenal opportunity for both parties to engage new audiences, expand into new markets and build on our mobile leadership to grow both of our businesses. We are excited about the ability to unlock synergies for growth, deliver new ways to innovate on the discovery commerce model and change the way people shop.
Especially in the fast-moving digital age, a retailer’s culture is integral to their success. What makes QVC’s culture unique? What do you do to cultivate the right culture?
QVC’s core values of teamwork, pioneering spirit and open and honest communication are an integral part of our entire global organization. The culture at QVC is shaped by these values. Our values are so important to the way we do business at QVC that they are woven into the framework of how we bring in and retain top talent. Associates are not only evaluated on what they accomplish, but also how they used the values. It is part of our glue that helps to hold the company together.
What’s the best business or leadership advice you’ve ever received?
Stay curious, and learn something new every day.
Retail is: A 24/7 high wire act
My first job: A rather hopeless carpenter’s assistant, working with my dad during the summers
I’m reading: Nabokov in America
Favorite QVC product: I love them all equally.
What do you want to share — and learn — at the Shop.org Digital Summit this year?
I’m excited to discuss QVC’s ongoing growth and success with mobile commerce, which has become a core driver of our e-commerce business. QVC is focused on delivering the right content, to the right customer, on the right platform, at the right time. I’m also looking forward to sharing more about Zulily and their differentiated shopping experience. Similarly, I’m eager to learn how other retailers are delivering content and adding functionality across channels to better engage audiences, and the role that personalization and relevance are playing in attracting and retaining customers.
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