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QVC execs: Second-screen experiences drive engagement, conversion rates

NEW YORK – Executives from QVC revealed at CXNYC 2015 that developing mobile-first, second-screen experiences to complement live broadcasts is an optimal way for the home shopping network to increase customer engagement, and consequently, conversion rates.

During the “Win in an Omnichannel World” session, the executives discussed their business strategies and increased focus on digital platforms, as its fastest growing channel is now mobile, with 17 percent of sales. Consumers’ tendencies to start shopping or browsing on one device and complete the process on another requires the brand to offer a seamless omnichannel experience.

“We’re always looking at experiences first,” said Mary Campbell, executive vice president of ecommerce platforms at QVC, West Chester, PA. “How does the customer want to engage with us; what does she want to accomplish?

“Understanding what she wants to accomplish is first.”

CXNYC 2015 is a forum for customer experience professionals organized by Forrester Research.

Sales on digital
QVC frequently sees its customers, mostly belonging to the female demographic, begin browsing a product on one digital channel, and complete the purchase cycle on another. For example, 69 percent of consumers who start on a desktop will finish the shopping process on a tablet, meaning that QVC must offer the same steps on both devices so as not to confuse or alienate users.

However, QVC’s digital sales are considered Web-influenced offline sales.

This omnichannel approach has necessitated QVC to bring together its organization to think cohesively and make effective decisions that have equal effect on all platforms. Therefore, the brand developed a core business layer, and sought to look at its offerings from the perspective of the consumer.

Fans can use the iPad app while watching a live broadcast

“We have been very siloed as an organization, and over the past few years, we have come to work together as an organization,” Ms. Campbell said. “Being aligned in the beginning of the strategy has enabled us to move quickly.”

As mobile is now a key area for QVC to leverage for enhanced sales, executives had to understand the constraints of the screen size as well as the capabilities of the device itself.

“The reality is, as a company, we understand this is a space that is imperative,” said Linda Dillman, chief technology officer at QVC.

Second-screen experiences
QVC has been expanding its mobile offerings to ensure that consumers on all devices can interact with the network, even if they are not watching live broadcasts. However, those who are fans of the live shows may also locate complementary and additive content on their smartphones and tablets during and after the broadcast to continue engagement.

“Another capability we deployed last year was around second-screen experience,” Ms. Campbell said. “We left ourselves open to evolving it as we went through the process.

“The key metric really was time on platform; we wanted to see if we could get [the customer] to spend more time on the tablet, in the app. It was a good example of being agile, and we were able to discover what did drive the engagement there.”

QVC typically looks at consumer engagement as a key metric. The more a user engages with the brand over multiple platforms, the more likely a conversion will be in the long run.

Often times, consumers browse through showcased products before they are compelled to finally make a purchase. This has led the brand to consider conversion more of an eventuality for long-lasting customer engagement.

The live broadcasts are able to tie in well with the second-screen content, which may contain aggregated social media feeds or additional recipes, depending on the show type. The live shows are intangible, but do create a relationship between the consumer and the host, prompting QVC to try to translate that essence into its digital platforms.

“The second-screen experience is a good example of how [the customer] can engage with the broadcast within the app,” Ms. Campbell said. “Now she can also engage with other people through a social feed as well as make her own choice about what type of content she would like to look at.”

While the majority of QVC’s shoppers are female, the company is seeing a small spike in male consumers purchasing on mobile.

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 (see story).

QVC is also leveraging Apple’s fingerprint sensor Touch ID technology to allow for streamlined user log-in to its mobile application and faster payment methods (see story).

“Right now we’re really focused on the small screen first and then going out from there,” Ms. Campbell said.

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York