They Put the “Home” in Home Shopping
By Stephanie Murr, Fall 2010; supplemented by Teal Ruland, Spring 2011

QVC Studio Entrance
Honora Pearls - Flickr.com
QVC's West Chester headquarters has become a hub of international electronic commerce.

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From red designer pumps, little black dresses, and pearl necklaces, to all-in-one printers, portable DVD players, and the latest computer software, Chester County’s QVC is the one-stop shop with a simple phone call or a click. Thanks to QVC, people all over the country can now shop without ever leaving the comfort of their own homes. Before the company revolutionized the way consumers shopped, long lines, crowded dressing rooms, and hours of searching were the norm. QVC focuses on three customer principals: Quality, Value, and Convenience.

In 1986, Joseph Segel changed the face of shopping when he founded QVC. QVC paved the way for a new kind of retail service based on live television broadcasts from Studio Park in West Chester, Chester County. When it first started on air, it took viewers by storm; the charismatic and interactive hosts and special guests gave a whole new feeling to the shopping experience. Now, its programming reaches more than 98 million U.S. households, and more than 180 million cable and satellite homes worldwide. With vivid descriptions and flashy displays, QVC hosts capture their clientele during the programs. Products are described in detail and presented in ways that make them very appealing to consumers.

QVC Founder Joe Segel
Joe Segel
Of his many successful businesses, QVC is Joe Segel's most successful.

Moreover, QVC features prominent stars promoting custom-designed products. Joan Rivers, the quintessential celebrity host, has sold more than $60-million of jewelry since she joined QVC. Other notables like Jessica Simpson, Paula Abdul, Rachel Zoe, and Michael Kors have all worked with QVC to promote their own lines, as well. There are now more than 24 different TV personnel hosting on the QVC network, each with devoted followers.

However, before QVC came onto the scene, shopping hadn’t been so easy and interactive. Rather than spending hours combing through the malls or watching cheesy infomercials, QVC gives shoppers what they want, when they want it. It broadcasts 24 hours a day, 364 days a year. Additionally, their customer base not only spans the globe, as they’ve branched out to Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom, but across generations as well.

Angela Furman, a 62-year-old grandmother, is an avid QVC home shopper. But this wasn’t always the case. Mrs. Furman of Folsom, CA once turned up her nose at the products sold on QVC. “I really wasn't the kind of person who would buy from a television,” she recalls. But QVC quickly got her attention in 1991 when it began to feature personalities such as talk-show host Joan Rivers and fashion designer Bob Mackie, who promoted custom jewelry and fashions. Since buying her first product from QVC, Mrs. Furman now spends roughly $200 a month buying clothes and gifts. This is just one of thousands of consumers who are making the switch from brick-and-mortar shopping to the QVC’s home convenience approach. “QVC is changing the way Americans shop. It is giving consumers a more entertaining and convenient alternative for shopping,” says Gerald Celente, publisher of Trends newsletter in Rhinebeck, NY. “QVC has been able to tap into two of America's biggest thirsts,” Mr. Celente emphasizes, “The need to be entertained and the need to buy enormous amounts of material goods.”

QVC set
Honora Pearls - Flickr.com
Sets like this one sell QVC's partners' products around the world.

By tapping into these thirsts, QVC has captured a large customer base that includes people of all races and ages. Their customer base is also not limited to specific locations like other retail stores. Additionally, QVC helps capture the male customer base by allowing men to shop from home. They also offer special sales, such as the “Mad Men” fashion line on sale this past September.  Yet, QVC doesn’t only attract clothing devotees.  They have something for everyone, even including sports fans. QVC had a nationwide debut for the Lawn Logo, a licensed product of Major League Baseball. The Mets and many other MLB teams are now offering their logo in special paint-it-on-your-lawn kits. Each kit includes a plastic 52-inch stencil, four pegs to hold the stencil in place, and a water-based paint that won't kill the grass. Each kit includes enough paint to do the logo several times. Stadium Associates produces the Lawn Logo, and their company president, David Andres, did a live appearance on the channel known for selling handbags, makeup and jewelry. Andres joked, “I think this will be the first time sports bars will be asked to change the channel to put on QVC.” QVC’s wide variety of products is just one of the many factors in their large customer base.

Moreover, with ever increasing competition, QVC has managed to keep their momentum and continually respond to what their customers demand. Their innovative initiatives help keep them ahead of the game; the website offers easy pay orders, auto delivery orders, return orders, email services, and email reminders for the convenience of their customers. QVC also offers their customers a generous return policy. The company allows customers to use a “Q label” for returns, which is on their original mail order. Each Q label is assigned its own tracking number, and shoppers can track their return. QVC has also branched out to popular social networking websites, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube; they even have an app for the Apple iPhone. In addition to its website where customers can purchase any of their products online, QVC also has a deal with AOL. AOL allows their customers to watch live streams of QVC’s broadcasts, and this way people without cable can still experience all that QVC has to offer simply by logging onto their computers. QVC is continually looking for new ways to be everywhere their consumers want to shop, whether it is from their computer, their television, or their phones.

QVC staff prepping for a new sales segment
Honora Pearls - Flickr.com
Each show requires prep work for both the products and the hosts.

For customers who want a more personal experience, the studio walking tour is one of kind, allowing participants to see and experience how QVC products are selected, sourced, and brought to life live on the air. Shoppers get to see what goes on behind the scenes of their favorite shopping network and feel as if they are a part of the company itself. Groups are lead through a tour of the wonderful world of multimedia retailing. While on tour, visitors are able to see into QVC's more than 58,000 square feet of studio space, including a spectacular view from the Observation Deck. From here, visitors may even have the opportunity to watch QVC programs in progress and may even catch a glimpse of their favorite host or special guests. Thousands of visitors who are interested in experiencing live television at its best flock to Studio Park each and every year. 

Consumers have many different ways of accessing products and goods that they want. Yet, all the information they could ever need or want is at their fingertips, just a click away. Shoppers can make purchases from the comfort of their own homes. With such a huge selection of merchandise, excellent customer support, and so many ways to access QVC, it is no surprise that shoppers still love the famous shopping television network.

The Center wishes to thank Joe Segel and Honora Pearls for their help in illustrating this article.

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