If you really believe in your product, you probably think it should be accessible to the largest number of shoppers possible. QVC, an $8.7 billion business, certainly gives inventors and small business owners that opportunity. In 2016 alone, it sold 183 million units of product to its worldwide customers – and 93% of those customers are loyal, repeat shoppers to the QVC brand.
So, how does one earn that coveted marketing spot and the chance to jump-start your path to success with such an amazing branding machine? Here are the proven strategies you need to know about to land a deal with QVC.
1. Assess Your Offerings
Before you prepare a pitch to QVC, it’s best to be honest about your product. Is it truly unique? Does it meet a growing need? Can it be made in mass quantity to satisfy the leagues of QVC buyers who will be shopping for it? Whlile QVC can help give advice on working prototypes, you must have everything squared away with your own manufacturer; be ready to sell a minimum of $30,000 – $35,000 in merchandise upon acceptance of an offer.
QVC has been very clear that the products they want need to be highly marketable. You don’t have to have a history of producing the merchandise in any grand scale. (In fact, QVC is rather fond of launching products from their inception.) It’s OK if you only have one product; they have a track record of turning single SKU’s into million-dollar empires. What counts is that your widget will be a in-demand, must-have purchase that the female-dominated audience will clamor to get.
2. Be Realistic
Think you have it? Now is not the time to ignore product flaws or shortcomings. While the QVC team can help you refine your item and suggest ways to help with production and marketing, they will not build your business for you. If you are aware of defects that can lead to a dissatisfied customer, it’s best to fix it before you pitch. Poor design integrity, for example, will be discovered eventually; save yourself the pain of loss and get it straightened out from the get-go.
There is also no use in approaching QVC with a product that they specifically don’t sell. Their FAQs clearly state what they are looking for. (Don’t even consider pitching them on your genuine fur coat or a breakthrough in feminine hygiene.)
3. Pitch Perfectly
Not everyone is a marketer, and the product pickers at QVC know this. That’s why they encourage everyone who submits a product to think carefully about the product’s story. Remember, your idea will be hawked in front of an audience on live TV, so it’s just as much about entertainment as it is a demonstration of functionality.
Will the audience feel the passion you did when you first had your “ah-ha” moment of invention? The backstory of how your business was born is very important and will go far to create brand loyalty. QVC will need to know that their on-screen delivery can create an emotional connection. Help do the work for them by incorporating a truthful yet unforgettable story that only your product fulfills.
If you do nothing else, remember what QVC stands for; “Quality, Value, and Choice” is the bedrock of their marketing strategy. Forget the fluff and aim for these three selling points in every interaction you have with the selection and buying teams.
4. Prepare for Next Steps
Now that you’ve submitted your product to the Product Discovery team, the real work begins. While it usually takes 2-4 weeks to hear back, this is when you should be preparing your presentation to buyers. Your next contact with them will be very important, and you’ll have a chance to submit a physical sample of your product while giving your personal pitch!
Remember that QVC is seeking products that will make them money. Use this time with a buyer to explain how your product is something that their target market can’t live without and how it is different from solutions already on the market. You’ll get extra points if the merchandise is something that is fun and engaging to demonstrate on TV!
QVC is also becoming quite the digital force. With seven websites serving 1 billion visitors and an impressive social network portfolio of 195 pages, there is a small chance your approved product could go viral. Keep this social-focused demographic in mind when telling the buyers about the value your product can bring them.
5. Be Open to Other Avenues
Landing an opportunity with QVC is a very big deal. That’s why it draws in so many applicants and competition is fierce. Because the company is growing so quickly, however, there are ways to work with them even if your product pitch doesn’t end up on television.
With the recent acquisition of Zulily, brands have a better chance than ever before to reach a mobile-savvy, millennial mom audience. Zulily’s flash deals concept prompts impulse buys from an on-trend audience and may be a good fit for an established retailer with a growing product line. Vendors can apply to be part of the $1.5 billion e-commerce experience by filling out the vendor consideration form.
Finally, there is always an appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank to perk up the eyes and ears of the giants at QVC. Leading lady Lori Greiner has chosen several show contestants to be her own personal pet projects, and the results were impressive. Many of these items continue to be sold on the QVC website, even after they are no longer promoted on air. Shark Tank hopefuls can put their products in the running by sending them an email or attending a casting call.
While many of the details behind a contract with QVC have been carefully guarded, the desire to be part of this global brand is intense among start-ups. With the platform to reach multiple countries on 15 channels in 360 million homes, there’s really no comparison to its marketing reach. Is your product ready for TV?