Most of us will be in a turkey-and-mashed-potatoes-induced food coma on Thanksgiving, wearing PJs as we flip between Friends re-runs and home shopping networks so we don’t miss out on amazing deals from celebrity fashion lines. In fact, there are so many cool specials to be had we wanted to find out more about how your favorite shopping destinations prep for the busiest season of the year. We asked HSN, QVC and Evine all those nosy questions you’ve always wanted to know. What top-selling item surprised them the most? How do they prep their inventory for the high-traffic season? And most importantly, what you need to know to get the biggest steals of the year.
Holiday Program Lineup
Part of what makes the channels so addictive is their fun holiday-themed lineups, which for Evine starts in October with shows focused on great gift items. QVC will host holiday shows with Dennis Basso and Jill Martin on December 6 along with a special Rachael Ray appearance on December 9. While HSN focuses on keeping the momentum up throughout the season by creating special holiday-theme editions for their celebrity brands. “For Wendy Williams it’s all about faux fur, so we created a whole line of faux fur for her this season,” explains Bill Brand, President and Chief Marketing Officer of HSN. “Iris Apfel will be back with a gift special in December. LL Cool J and his wife Simone Smith are coming on December 19 with Smith’s lollipop pendant line of jewelry which benefits a cancer charity that she’s created, and it’s a great way to give back for the holidays.”
RELATED PHOTOS: A Guide to Shopping for Every Impossible Person in Your Life
For Online Shoppers
If you’re not planning on huddling around the TV (and staying there) for the duration of the long holiday weekend, Brand says that while that’s a strong portion of HSN’s viewership, nearly 50 percent of people are actually buying online. “Our customers are time crunched, so they’ve really used technology to make their lives easier,” he explains. “The idea that 25 percent of our sales now happen on a mobile device, shows they’re multi-tasking. They’re at their kid’s soccer game and they can do their holiday shopping right there on their mobile phones. And that’s really the beauty of HSN, that we’re everywhere.”
QVC and Evine also cite Black Friday weekend as a big increase in TV viewership, but see surges in their online sales too thanks to their website and mobile apps.
How to Snag Your Favorite Finds Before Inventory Runs Out
We’re sure everyone has experienced a time when inventory ran out of stock faster than you could pick up the phone. And while that heartbreak is unbearable, Brand tells us HSN has perfected a buy-to-the-minute system. The company purchases a perfect amount of inventory based on the amount of time that a celebrity will be on TV. “We basically have predictive modeling that’s going to tell us how it’s going to sell. Then we look at how it does and how we want it to do and how do we get more creative with the product selections and the personalities to really build more interest up. And that’s what our whole business is focused on.”
Over at Evine they work on a “rigorous planning process” to ensure nothing is short before Christmas. “We push our holiday shopping season right up to December 22, where we can still guarantee arrival by Christmas for all those last-minute shoppers,” says Rosenblatt.
What You Need to Know Before Starting Your Holiday Shopping
HSN and QVC both offer gift-ready packing and flexible payment methods that allow you to pay in monthly installments. “It’s already wrapped up, the bow is on it, and it’s ready to gift,” says HSN’s Brand. “We have hundreds of those items from all of our brands.” Plus, at HSN everything is exclusive. “80 percent of what we sell is exclusive to HSN, you can’t find it anywhere else.”
Evine ensures all items purchased during the holidays have an extended period of time to return (through January 31). While over QVC has a program called Today’s Special Value that highlights a great deal and overall “best find” each day.
And QVC just became the first global retailer to celebrate Giving Tuesday (November 29) with a specially designed T-shirt from Peace Love World, donating 60 percent of the proceeds to Nest, a nonprofit committed to supporting female artisans who might not have the resources they need to succeed.
Celebrity Lines Versus Non-Celebrity Lines
All three retailers have strong celebrity rosters, and the stars have a deep connection to what they’re selling. The avid fan base of each channel knows how to spot a phony. “They have to have that passion to be successful,” says HSN’s Brand. “Our customers are very discerning. They see right through when something isn’t the real deal. So if they’re just trying to do it because they think it’s a fun project, it doesn’t work! They need to have that credibility and authenticity to be successful. Every brand at HSN has a personality behind them and sometimes that personality is what you would call a celebrity. But to our customer, they’re all celebrities.”
And as a result, every famous face has to have a special connection to his or her product. “The best celebrities are the ones that have authenticity behind them, that are real,” Brand explains. “The idea is that LL Cool J started a jewelry line with his wife is because he wanted to give back to a charity. Melissa McCarthy doesn’t just put her name on a name tag, she’s also the designer. She went to FIT. There’s always a story behind the celebrities that makes them the right person to work with on our platform.”
Evine’s star designers help develop their own products as well. “Many are the creators or have had a strong hand in the selection or development of the product they put their names to,” says the CEO of Evine Bob Rosenblatt. “Because of that, whenever they come on to Evine, they are able to tell a story that our viewers love to be a part of. It’s that type of storytelling and authenticity that makes those brands so powerful.”
And in addition to their celeb lines (including Eva Longoria, Vanessa Williams and Consult Beaute with Terry and Heather Dubrow), even brands without a traditionally “celeb” face do well.
“Evine really has become the destination for customers looking for unique and hard to find genuine jewelry,” says Rosenblatt. “Mass jewelers cannot even compare to the assortment that we offer in genuine gemstones, diamond, gold and silver jewelry. Those who designed the pieces or sourced the stones come on and tell the story and romance of the pieces. It’s really hard to watch them and not want to buy almost everything in the show.”
Rachel Ungaro, Vice President of Fashion and Beauty Merchandising at QVC, credits good storytelling to the success of a celebrity line as well as the star’s ability to bring new eyes to the network.
“Celebrities certainly add sparkle to our programming, and can help introduce newcomers to QVC,” she shares.
Surprising Sell-Out Items
Just to show how much celebrity personalities influence sales, all three retailers name-checked star-branded products as their top sell-out items. QVC cites Ellen DeGeneres’ ED on Air Set of 4 Candles with Gift Boxes as a fast-moving product from one of its celeb lines.
At Evine, fragrance was its surprising hit. “One of the more surprising items as of late was the Michel Germain Fragrance,” says Rosenblatt. “He developed an exclusive fragrance for Evine inspired by his wife and we sold out of it. Many would say it’s difficult to sell fragrance if the consumer can’t ‘try it on’ first. But, since we don’t have ‘smellavision,’ we really relied on the story of romance between Michel and his wife to sell the product — and it worked!”
The same goes for HSN. Brand shares, “When P. Diddy did his fragrance a couple of years ago it sold out in about two hours. Mary J. Blige sold out 60,000 bottles in two hours. Michael Bublé sold tens of thousands of bottles of fragrance in August. Customers like the fragrance’s story; they like the connection to that personality. And that’s something that you can’t get at a cosmetics counter at all but you can get it at HSN.”
So whether you’re planning on doing all your holiday shopping through your favorite TV retailer or are just looking for that one amazing stand-out present, your favorite celebrities have your gift-giving needs covered.
Where do you do most of your holiday shopping? Share in the comments below.