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Q&A: QVC explains how retailers can make the most of wearables

Television shopping network Quality, Value, Convenience, better known as QVC, expects big things from the Apple Watch for retailers, both as an engagement tool and as a point of sale.

The retailer is a leader in innovation through mobile as its demographic is quick to pickup on emerging technology. Recently the network released an application for the Apple Watch to create an integrated experience for consumers and a more seamless way to discover new brands and products through multi-platform channels.

The TV network feels that wearables and the Apple Watch are an important facet of the mobile industry and plans on developing its app further in the future for a greater user experience.

Here, Alex Miller, senior vice president of digital commerce at QVC, talks with Mobile Commerce Daily about QVC’s Apple Watch app, the company’s future wearables strategy and the benefits and pitfalls of the move into wearables.

What are QVC’s plans on utilizing the Apple Watch? 
At QVC, we look closely at how, when and where the customer is choosing to engage with us on digital platforms, both separate and in conjunction to our live broadcast viewing, to continue to make the experience more cohesive and engaging. As an expansion of our multi-platform offering, we see the Apple Watch extending the functionality of our iPhone app at the start, yet being contextual to the small screen format of a wearable.

Through this platform, we are able to offer customers the ability to access and view QVC content with a glance at their wrist. Through real-time updates and notifications, or by simply tapping the QVC icon on their home screen, our customers will be able to view QVC’s most important content, including the current featured item on air and Today’s Special Value, QVC’s best find of the day.

Another tap brings up a close-up product shot with pricing and product details. Customers can then complete the transaction on their iPhone.

What is beneficial about the Apple Watch specifically with the QVC shopper/demographic?
Our customers tend to be early adopters of technology and are highly engaged with us across our community of social media channels and on multiple platforms.

A testament to this is the popularity of our QVC app for iPad and iPhone, which has been downloaded nearly 3 million times. Because we are continuously offering new content, our customers check in with us on these platforms often, many of them multiple times a day.

When they check in to access content like Today’s Special Value, we want to ensure they get their information in a quick, bite-sized way, and the Apple Watch is poised to support this demand.

How do you feel that the Apple Watch will change the course of retail and mobile commerce?
Wearables are the hot technology item of the moment. With Apple venturing into this arena and having partnered with several retail brands for the Apple Watch launch, including QVC, we see a tremendous potential for uplift and adoption of the wearables platform in the retail industry, both as an engagement tool and as a point of sale.

For the immediate future, we see the experience on the Apple Watch as an extension of the mobile/tablet shopping experience. Thinking more long-term, it seems inevitable that wearables will be the next true engagement device offering a standalone experience, where customers will be able to interact with brands, customize their content and make purchases.

We’re already starting to see cases of this in the retail and hospitality industries.

How should retailers go about moving forward with an Apple Watch app? 
Customer engagement and convenience is at the heart of the Apple Watch. Retailers should consider how their app will further enhance the shopping experience, deliver timely, key information about its products, make customers’ lives easier and ultimately drive sales.

What are the benefits for retailers getting involved with the Apple Watch? 
Digital platforms are increasingly becoming a first point of entry for new customers. For retailers, if you have the right business model, you can definitely leverage the technology and provide a differentiated experience for your consumers.

A mobile-first approach has become part of the core of our overall digital strategy, and the move to the wearables is a natural extension of the shopper’s need to visit and check-in with their favorite retailers over the course of the day.

What are some pitfalls that retailers should watch out for?
Retailers need to understand that not all platforms are the same. How they engage with consumers on a mobile or tablet device is different than on wearables.

Retailers will need to develop an engaging and efficient experience for customers that are in line with the functionality of the Apple Watch and works with the smaller screen size.

What can you do to combat these pitfalls or avoid them? 
Given the continued fragmentation of ecommerce experiences, retailers should be spending equal time on their content and technology strategies to ensure they are poised to adopt new platforms and experiences when appropriate.

What plans does QVC have in the future for the Apple Watch? 
We expect that our Apple Watch app will continue to evolve, offering new features and capabilities over time. We plan to keep close watch on customer adoption, feedback and behavior to ensure relevant capabilities to match their expectations and enhance their shopping experience.

Final take
Brielle Jaekel is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer and Mobile Commerce Daily