woman with shopping bags

QVC-Style Home Shopping Reborn in Instagram Age

Pandemic Shopping Meets the Live Stream

Shopping for fall clothing trends during the pandemic looks a little different this year. In fact, it’s actually a little retro. In a nod to the pre-internet days of television shopping networks, brands like Tommy Hilfiger (PVH), Revolve (RVLV), Levi’s (LEVI), and Rebecca Minkoff are showing off their new designs in live-streamed shows where customers can see fashions on models and ask questions of the designers.

The events have been a success—over 12,600 shoppers attended a stream on Tommy Hilfiger’s website where models and stylists showed off the fall collection and helped shoppers with tips on how to wear the clothes.

The live streams are aimed at customers who don’t feel comfortable shopping in stores during the pandemic but still have holiday shopping to do. Customers who miss engaging with real people while making purchases seem to appreciate the events. “It was almost like having a personal shopper,” one viewer said.

Live Streamed Sales Take Off in China

These live sales events might feel novel—with a hint of old-fashioned—in the United States, but they are already huge in China. In August, 14 million viewers tuned in from China for a single Tommy Hilfiger livestream. Those viewers bought 1,300 hoodies within two minutes.

Live streamed events aren’t completely new to the United States either. Levi’s has been streaming shopping events on Amazon (AMZN) since 2018, but it took this year’s lockdowns for this shopping format to really catch on. Designers and retailers say they’re a good substitute for the experience people have when they go to stores and talk with salespeople.

Research group Coresight expects the digital shopping events to stick around in the United States. By 2023, the events could even generate $25 billion in sales.

Introducing DIY Home Shopping Networks

While big brands are seeing supersized numbers from their live-streamed events, any retailer with an internet presence can get in on the action. In fact, many smaller companies are also starting to hold live events to recreate some of the community spirit that’s been lost during the pandemic.

CommentSold LLC manages the platforms some small businesses use to hold their live sales. CEO Brandon Kruse says technology has made it possible for smaller retailers to keep up with their larger competitors. “It’s a democratized version of the Home Shopping Network,” Kruse said.

The actual Home Shopping Network and QVC (QRTEA) are also getting in on the action with channels on Roku and Amazon Fire TV. The networks might find new customers who would have turned up their noses at home shopping a few years ago. It’s an industry unexpectedly coming back to life during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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