Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Genefa Murphy

Why QVC-style shopping is finally having its heyday

By Genefa Murphy, CMO, Five9

QVC may make you think of your grandparents purchasing everything from Christmas lights to jewellery from their TVs or insomniacs binge shopping random items late at night, but “TV” shopping is more relevant than ever – especially with the rise in popularity of social media and video streaming sites. Livestreamed shopping events are the latest frontier in online shopping. Brands from Gucci to Amazon have been experimenting with streaming ecommerce, and TV-style shopping is finding its way back into the limelight.

Reinventing TV Shopping

This time, it is less about shifting units and price dropping and more about meeting customers where they are and providing a seamless and immersive experience across the different channels. Taking place on social media channels, such as Instagram and TikTok, and even on retailers’ own websites, today, modern-day livestream shopping is focused on a mix between entertainment and selling.

Let me give you an example: Skateboarding and surf wear brand Pacsun recently hosted its first live shopping event at its Soho flagship store. The event celebrated the global launch of the A$AP Rocky and Pacsun collaboration. According to Pacsun, thousands of avid fans and customers had signed up for this exclusive event hosted by Pacsun influencer and content creator Mathieu Simoneau.

The event gave shoppers around the world the chance to view the new collection first-hand and interact and engage with the brand before shopping the latest releases. This created a unique experience for customers – one that made them feel special and part of something bigger than simply making a purchase online via the company’s website.

Get it before it’s gone

At a time when retailers are facing numerous challenges, creating new experiences is critical to attracting and retaining customers. It’s easy to focus on the growth of ecommerce or the decline in footfall, but the biggest change over the last few years is that customers are fickler than ever before, in fact, recent research reveals that 61% of 18-to-24-year-olds (Generation Z) are less loyal to brands now than before the pandemic.

Being able to offer something that goes beyond the traditional shopping and actual purchase journey will make retailers stand out and lays the foundation to create brand loyalty. Livestream shopping is undoubtedly a great way to do this. It has reinvented TV-style home shopping and created a new genre by combining it with social media/video, digital and influencers – three of the biggest marketing/advertising trends available to brands today. As seen with Pacsun, this has created a shopping experience like no other.

Fostering long-term loyalty

It’s important to remember that video shopping alone isn’t enough to build long-term loyalty. The key is ensuring a smooth customer journey from start to finish – no matter which channels the customer is using. This is where the contact centre comes in. While the nature of QVC-style shopping has changed and there is less pressure to buy in that moment to get the best price, purchases are still largely based on impulse. This can leave the customers with questions after the sale. For example, they may want to ask about the delivery policy or how to edit their order if they change their mind. These less glamorous questions aren’t going to be featured in an all-sparkles livestream, but they are still essential for the customer to know.

Getting these questions answered is crucial to maintaining customer trust and loyalty. Our recent research found that almost half (44%) of UK respondents are unlikely to remain loyal after a bad customer experience. For this style of shopping to be a real success, brands need to ensure that their contact centres are prepared to deal with the volume of these inbound requests. By using IVAs (Intelligent Virtual Assistants), straightforward and recurring questions such as order updates and delivery information can be completed quickly, easily and without the need for a live agent freeing up time for agents to focus on the more complex issues. This is especially helpful during peaks in demand, for example, during or directly after a livestream when customer expectations and emotions are likely at their peak (often referred to as post-purchase cognitive dissonance).

Post-purchase customer service

While this shopping-style may have only appealed to a particular demographic, the modern alternative is set to be the next big thing and encompass a much broader set of cohorts. Influencers’ inventive video formats and exclusive access are certainly going to garner attention, and retailers must ensure that their customer service strategy is well equipped to deal with the surge in demand from livestreamed shopping. It only takes one bad customer service experience to unravel all the hard work spent keeping consumers’ attention, and it might be impossible to win a customer who had a bad experience back.

The retail industry is ever evolving, and brands cannot afford to remain comfortable. Those that want to keep up with consumer demands and thrive in the changing landscape must continue to reimagine the customer experience and reinvent themselves in new, innovative ways while providing customers with what they want. Where this will take us is unclear, but we know that now it is the time to get customer service right.