I woke up dreaming about Sassy Jones. No, that’s not right. I woke up from a nap and the TV was tuned to the Home Shopping Network (HSN). A new designer was there, someone named Sassy Jones (loved the name). I bought two scarves.
I’m a TV watcher who hates commercials. When commercials come on, I use my trusty remote to go elsewhere — briefly. Often I check out what’s for sale on shopping channels QVC or HSN and their spin-off channels.
I was first turned on to the shopping channels when the great-looking new blond in our office often wore interesting pins. I asked her where she got her pins and she said, “Joan Rivers on QVC”. I was stunned. Joan Rivers? The comedian? “Yep,” says the blond,” she designs jewelry and she’s on QVC with Kathy Levine and ….”
So I immediately checked out QVC and was soon ordering. Yes, the pins were lovely. I found HSN as well. I watched even when celebrities weren’t involved and got to know a whole bunch of attractive show hosts with names like David, Jane, Leah, Mary Beth, Rick, Bobbi Ray. Callie, Coleen and Suzanne. Women are the shoppers, so a lot of women are the show hosts.
Ordering also meant returning, and at first my husband seemed to enjoy occasionally packing up a return. The more I shopped, the more I heard, “Just how many things do you order on TV?”
Not liking my husband’s question, I then started packaging my own returns and established a “returns” table complete with packing tape, scissors and white paper (to cover original labels on boxes). I also learned how to print a return label after I had misplaced the original, and I learned to call customer service as well. (Lots of food is sold on the shopping channels. I learned that if a customer is unhappy with the food and calls customer service, a credit will be given, but the food does not have to be returned. I have been honest about such calls and destroyed the food I didn’t like. But once, I had some very tough steaks. I got the credit, then ground up the steaks into hamburger for my dogs. They were thrilled. The other food I’ve ordered and kept resides in my freezer and I am set for several very long cold winters.
Of course, with the pandemic, I no longer am the only one on my block receiving online shopping orders. Amazon seems to be everywhere. Need a new pair of nail clippers? Don’t make a list, just order from Amazon Prime and your clippers will be at your front door the next day.
Early on in the pandemic, QVC and HSN were still talking about quantities sold into the tens of thousands. Yes, product experts broadcast from their homes (most have very nice homes), but those huge quantities were still reported. I was amazed. I gather the companies use “fulfillment centers”, but still I wonder how huge a warehouse is required to store 50,000 big boxes of new arctic coats.
The objection from some: “How can you buy from QVC; you can’t try anything on?” is now true of mall shopping as well. You can look and feel, but during the pandemic, trying on is disallowed. Shopping online and easy returns make online shopping almost practical. I drop off my Amazon returns at the local Kohl’s and get the credit by the time I return home!
Curious about just how “my” shopping channels were doing, I looked into their most recent report to investors. I found my channels are owned by a much larger group, Qurate Retail Group. In addition to QVC and HSN, they own Zulily, Ballard Designs, Frontgate, Garnet Hill and Grandinroad. (Never knew that.) QVC and HSN boast 15.4 million customers with “above average incomes.” The “avid” shoppers tend to be age 45 and older (hence some shopping channel hosts being in that age group as well). I was probably age 50 when I decided online was easier than walking the mall.
Curate brags that QVC and HSN are “unmatched in global scale and experience” and that over the last six months, revenue growth in the shopping channels has grown 7 percent with new customer growth at 53 percent. The QVC/HSN stats also list “best customers” as folks who purchase more than 20 items in the last 12 months (that’s me). Best customers also take up 69 percent of sales, and the “best customer” retention rate is 99 percent. The yearly spend at QVC and HSN per existing customer is $1,335.
Are all the products I order and keep worn or used? Not all. After a year or two in the closet or cupboard, if something hasn’t called out, “wear me!” or “use me”, I hear a different cry: “Salvation Army can use this item,” and the item magically takes a drive to Salvation Army.
I come home and yes, more room is available in the closet or on the shelves.
Oh my, what’ll I do now?