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HSN exec: Personalization is expectation on mobile

During the “Case Study: Optimizing Your Tablet Experience To Provide A True Value Add For Your Customer” session, an HSN executive spoke about the insights that were involved in the company’s new mobile site and iPad application. The executive also spoke about how the company is increasingly using mobile to connect the dots between different mediums.

“Consumers expect it now, whether it is the case for recommendations, the case of letting users customize the experience or even share user-generated content,” said Ed Deutscher, operating vice president of emerging platforms for mobile and connected home, HSN, St. Petersburg, FL.

“What we’re trying to do is combine content, community and commerce,” he said.

“We certainly are in the business of selling stuff but at the same time our ultimate goal is around engagement and entertainment.”

Mobile revamp
Over the past month, HSN has been rolling out new mobile initiatives with its mobile Web site and iPad app.

The mobile site was rolled out on Oct. 3 and the iPad app was launched earlier in the past month.

One of the primary goals behind the iPad app is to serve as a companion app.

HSN’s iPad app was originally launched in Dec. 2010 with the recent revamp focusing more on personalized features such as video playlists.

Additionally, features such as bigger product pictures and autoplay video playlists are included.

As operating systems such as Android become more fragmented, it is a challenge to develop for features such as live streaming.

It is important to give consumers incentives for using mobile to shop. For example, last year the company leveraged flash deals to drive sales around the holidays.

Consumers nowadays often shop across multiple devices, meaning that it is key for marketers to follow shoppers across all the different touch points. One way that HSN is tackling this is by taking advantage of a user’s account to save items that are dropped in shopping carts.

Mobile connector
Per Mr. Deutscher, digital makes up 35 percent of HSN’s sales. Mobile contributes to these sales, and is the fastest-growing channel for the company.

As far as apps go, the company has focused on the iOS and Android operating systems. Apps can also help brands differentiate themselves in the space by offering functionality that is not being used elsewhere.

Discoverability remains to be an issue with apps, but HSN knows that its core consumers are using the app.

Showing how HSN is aiming to tie multiple channels together, the app includes a feature called shop by remote that lets consumers shop on-air products from their handsets.

One of the bread-and-butter features to HSN’s apps is live video streaming that pulls in on-air content, which was launched in 2009. Video will continue to be at the forefront of the HSN’s mobile initiatives.

Gaming is also a strong initiative for HSN. For example, the company has a game called spin to win running currently that lets consumers participate for a chance at winning tickets.

Speed and simplicity are top reasons why a consumer chooses to engage with HSN on mobile.

Mobile can also be a strong tool for acquisition. Therefore, SEO plays a big role in helping HSN find new users.

“Whether it is someone watching us through our broadcast channel, on dot-com or now coming from mobile, arguably they want a seamless experience,” Mr. Deutscher said.

“We know that customers may not want to buy right then and there, but they want to be engaged, so we are using mobile to provide that mechanism,” he said.

“We are trying to find ways between how consumers watch TV and how they use these devices.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York