9 Things We Learned About HSN’s $2.5 Billion Per Year TV-Commerce Operation

You might not think about HSN very much, but that’s because you aren’t part of their target demographic: women over 35 who enjoy shopping but want to choose from a curated collection of stuff, maybe designed or at least endorsed by a familiar celebrity. If that doesn’t sound like a large portion of the population, you’d be surprised: HSN takes in $2.5 billion per year.

Racked sent a reporter to their studios in Florida to learn more.

  1. Yes, HSN really does take in $2.5 billion per year from shoppers watching at home, either over the phone or online.
  2. HSN knows a lot about you… if you’re a woman over 35 who likes to shop HSN. Their VP of marketing is really, really into their typical customer: “We love her. We talk about her all the time,” she said. “There’s not a minute of the day that goes by that we’re not thinking about her.” In a marketing context, that’s not creepy. Just intense.
  3. HSN uses wheelchairs to whisk on-air hosts quickly from one set to another. Crew members push them. Yes, the hosts can walk or even run, but if they did, they might get a hair out of place or be out of breath when they have to be back on the air within seconds.
  4. The real-time feedback is intense: on-air hosts can see monitors that show how well an item is selling, and they’re able to answer questions that customers ask when they call in immediately on the air.
  5. The only day the channel doesn’t run live is Christmas, when it plays pre-taped sales segments.
  6. HSN was an early version of the online flash sale: reality star and HSN fashion pitchwoman Guiliana Rancic says that she can sell 40,000 of one item in a day on HSN, which isn’t really how sales work elsewhere in the fashion industry.
  7. The idea of over-the-air shopping was born in 1977 when a Florida radio station received a box of can openers from a cash-poor advertiser, and sold them live on the air. It became a regular show, which spread to local public-access cable and then nationwide.
  8. About 43% of the company’s sales actually come in through the website, and those shoppers aren’t necessarily watching the channel live.
  9. Their website features arcade-style games for customers who feel at home with the brand but don’t want to go shopping right now.

HSN and the Power of the TV Shopper [Racked]

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