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HSN’s first-half mobile sales eclipse all of last year

September 14, 2012

NEW YORK – An HSN executive speaking at the Mobile Marketer Summit: Holiday Focus 2012 conference said that the retailer’s mobile sales during the first half of 2012 were higher than for all of last year.

During the session, “HSN: How the Leading Shopping Network Tackles a Future of Boundary-less Retail,” the executive said key areas of focus in mobile for the shopping channel include expanding its distribution and updating apps, tying mobile into its social and gaming experience, enhancing the live mobile shopping experience as well as mobile search. He also said that mobile is the retailer’s fastest growing channel.

“Our sales as of the second quarter of this year already eclipsed all of last year,” said Ed Deutscher, operating vice president of emerging platforms for mobile and connected home, HSN, St. Petersburg, FL.

“We are really focused on providing an optimized transactional experience,” he said.  “We know that customers are using mobile for speed and simplicity.

“Customers are sitting on a couch and have their device in hand using it to find what they are currently watching and to get additional information that isn’t on screen. It has really become the remote control as they are watching live.”

The Mobile Marketing Summit: Holiday Focus 2012 conference was a Mobile Marketer event.

Frictionless experiences
HSN launched its first mobile app in 2009 and quickly expanded to other platforms.

One of it keys goals in mobile is to insure that the channel’s content and transactional capabilities are available across any platform.

Live streaming is also an important focus for mobile, with HSN looking to enable customers to watch HSN wherever they are.

Mr. Deutscher

Another key mobile strategy is personalization, with HSN focusing on serving the right content to users.

“We want to make sure the experience is frictionless and easy,” Mr. Deutscher. “If she wants to buy with us, we want to make it as easy as possible.

“We want to insure that our experiences are seamless across devices,” he said. “Products added on mobile are fully synched with desktop because customers are hoping across devices throughout the day.”

One of the opportunities HSN sees for driving further customer engagements in mobile is via live chat.

In April, HSN launched live chat, which is only available on its mobile platforms, enabling users to chat with other customers and to ask questions of guests such as Martha Stewart.

“Our customers love to talk,” Mr. Deutscher said. “Our customers that download the apps are chatting and have an affinity toward these guests and the products.

“We are happy with the results,” he said. “We didn’t have to clutter up the TV screen with an extra panel and instead, customers can pull out their device and post messages and watch the responses live on the phone.”

Holiday 2012
For holiday 2012, HSN will focus on ways to drive greater impulse buying. For example, by having hosting guests stand with an iPad in hand and talk about the opportunities to engage with HSN on mobile.

Last year during the holiday season, HSN ran different flash sales on mobile throughout the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Mr. Deutscher would not confirm if HSN will repeat this strategy this year but did say HSN will look for ways to target customers on key shopping days via mobile.

“Deals is a key opportunity for us that we’ve launched,” Mr. Deutscher said. “Last year, at Thanksgiving we launched unique mobile offers and offered them at key times throughout the day.

“For example, right after Thanksgiving dinner, we launched a deal,” he said. “Deals were launched at times when mobile traffic is high,” he said.

“This year, we are certainly looking at ways to drive engagement sales over the holiday season.”

The retailer is also exploring ways to deliver mobile offers based on behavior and segmentation using push notifications.

One of the keys to HSN’s success in mobile is that all of its apps are hybrid native-HTML5 apps. This has enabled the retailer to blend in some native pieces but also to easily integrate content because some experiences are the same across platforms.

Apps also feature important mobile-only features such as the ability to search within the program guide and a quick-step checkout.

“Our challenge is how do we engage customers in mobile and drive them to tune into the live experience,” Mr. Deutscher said.

“Our live show, from an overall perspective, is a larger share of sales,” he said. “Consumers still like to tune in and watch.”

Final Take
Ed Deutscher is OVP of technology at HSN, St. Petersburg, FL

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