Qurate (QRTEA) CEO David Rawlinson is set on steering the cable conglomerate’s QVC and HSN channels into the streaming epoch. With traditional cable business seeing a decline, Rawlinson is betting big on home shopping thriving in the digital frontiers.
Qurate’s new business unit, vCommerce Ventures, is designed to upgrade the company’s classic brands for the streaming era, starting with the launch of streaming services QVC+ and HSN+. Heading up the initiative is former Amazon Prime Video (AMZN) executive Soumya Sriraman.
Home shopping is equal parts infamous and iconic, both derided as an endless stream of infomercials and quintessential to late 20th century culture. As of late, though, it is out of vogue. Qurate has felt the impact as a result, seeing its operating income decline by almost half in the most recent quarter.
But Rawlinson sees the future of retail firmly planted in “v-commerce” or video commerce. This refers to shoppable videos on social media and livestream platforms featuring product demos, often led by influencers.
V-commerce offers customers an engaging, interactive experience, in which they can shop, learn, and be entertained simultaneously. And Qurate has the infrastructure in place to adopt it quickly: production studios, real-time sales data, and camera-ready talent. If anyone is ideally positioned to capitalize on this next-generation retailing model, it may well be Qurate.
Shopping for the Future
V-commerce is reflected in a growing trend over the past few years — livestream shopping.
Companies like Poshmark (POSH), Walmart (WMT), YouTube (GOOGL), eBay (EBAY), and Amazon (AMZN) have partnered with livestream services or launched their own platforms for hosting v-commerce events in which customers gather virtually to view new product promotions. Sales in the sector are anticipated to reach $32 billion this year in the US alone.
But for Qurate, it’s less about keeping up with the trend and more about leveraging its unique assets at the nexus of media and retail. As more businesses dive into the livestream shopping arena, consumers may see the shopping experience paradigm shift once again. First, commerce to ecommerce. Now, ecomm to v-comm.
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