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How mobile helps QVC own social shopping

SAN ANTONIO, TX – A QVC executive speaking at eTail West 2014 explained how the multichannel retailer tackles social shopping with a controlled Web and mobile platform.

The bulk of retailers today primarily limit on-site search to a bar at the top of the screen. However, with more consumers engaging with social media to discover products and connect with each other, QVC developed an in-house platform called Togather last year.

“We have a huge mobile audience — I’m not quite sure if it’s 50 percent — but it’s a very large percentage of our online audience uses mobile,” said Craig Donato, vice president of social at QVC, West Chester, PA. “We have spent a lot of time developing tablet experiences, Android and iPhone experiences.

“For example, with Togather, everything is absolutely responsive, so it scales from a desktop all the way down to a mobile phone,” he said. “We make sure that we design in for mobile from day one.”

Social shopping
Togather is not built into QVC’s Web site so that the social component did not feel like an add-on. The site is available at

The goal behind the site is to create a social shopping experience that is community-driven.

The site serves up trending and personalized experiences.

Trending content includes products and stories that are popular in the QVC community. Both products and tags are pulled into trending content.

The personalized portion of the site lets fans follow brands and personalities with the same taste. This helps the site slim down content for a particular user.

The goal is to bring the same level of consumer trust that QVC has established on television to online.

QVC has more than 1.6 million Facebook fans in addition to host-specific pages.

A screenshot of ?Togather

Different strokes?
As more consumers turn to their social networks to find products, retailers must differentiate search behavior and social media behavior since both have different consumer intentions.

On Facebook, consumers log-in to access entertainment content and to catch up with their friends.

However, retailers are not tapping into these behaviors with social shopping correctly, according to Mr. Donato.

For example, a Facebook stream is constantly changing and curated by recommendations whereas search results only include a comprehensive database.

Therefore, the focus on social shopping needs to be more emotional.

“So much of retail and ecommerce today is about serving demand,” Mr. Donato said. “We assume that someone’s going to show up knowing that they’re going to try to buy something.

“We believe that the art of social shopping is how do we actually create demand,” he said. “How do people show up and how do we inspire them to want to buy something?”

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