As a retail buyer at Target, I never gave much credence to brands that appeared on QVC, HSN or the like. Why? It wasn’t the same type of shopper that we pursued at Target. Plus, those networks often undercut the pricing in brick and mortars. And if your product requires that much demonstration in order to sell, that doesn’t bode well for a big retailer’s shelf where your item must sell itself. There are no sales clerks to explain it.
And then subjectively, there is a cheeziness to those channels that I felt reflected poorly on those brands. It didn’t make me want to carry those brands in my stores. Again, that’s just an opinion.
Many ask me if selling on those TV channels helps open up big box retail distribution. Not necessarily for the reasons mentioned above. Further more, the sales metrics from home shopping channels don’t roll up nicely into a sales metric that store retail buyers can wrap their heads around. Selling 6,000 units in 5 minutes doesn’t really translate into a meaningful data point for brick and mortar retail where minutes are not a key measure. Calling your appearance a sell-out doesn’t mean anything to us either. You could have had only 10 units to sell and blew through all of them. “Sell out” is ambiguous.
In some ways, knowing you’ve been doing the equivalent of infomercials on TV is somewhat intriguing in that you are building brand awareness. If you recall, buyers love that brand awareness drives sales at brick and mortar stores. But again, that’s the only silver lining I see in selling to home shopping networks IF your goal is to get into larger brick and mortar retailers. Obviously there are upsides to your cash flow, inventory costs, etc.
Overall, I don’t think it hurts to sell to QVC, HSN, etc. I just don’t think it will make a significant impact on the interest of national retail buyers. So in that case, why not do it if you can!