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iQVC Named Tops in E-tailing by National Research Group
by
Greg Gore

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iQVC, the online retailing division of West Chester based QVC, Inc., was ranked #1 among online general merchandise retailers by Forrester Research, Inc. Forrester's prestigious PowerRankings(tm) report combines survey data from online consumers and unbiased shopping tests to provide objective rankings of the leading US eCommerce sites. The report and more information about it can be found on the Internet at http://powerrankings.forrester.com.

In the most recent PowerRankings(tm) report released January 05, 2001, iQVC won the top spot over other major Internet retailers such as Amazon.com, Best Buy, and buy.com. "(iQVC's) happy customers are the key to its success," said Tom Rhinelander, research director for Forrester Research.

In a holiday season that was unkind to many e-tailers, iQVC's happy customers propelled it to a 56% increase in 2000 eHoliday sales over 1999 sales. Also in December 2000, iQVC celebrated it first $10 million week and enjoyed its largest selling day ever with over $3.1 million in sales. Total annual sales at iQVC top $100 million.

Steve Hamlin, Vice President of Operations for iQVC, says, "Knowing our customers, merchandising to their needs, and integrating the QVC and iQVC experiences are the keys to making and keeping happy customers. All QVC and iQVC systems and inventories are tied together, allowing customers to track orders via the telephone or the Internet."

"QVC formed a community through show hosts and celebrities," adds Hamlin, "and when you form a community, you have happy and loyal customers. Just as QVC does live chats with show hosts and celebrities, iQVC conducts over 25,000 'LivePerson' interactive chats a month. These chats allow our customers to communicate with experts on a real time basis. In addition, we answer over 23,000 customer e-mails a month."

QVC's customers are made to feel at home at iQVC. The iQVC website, www.iQVC.com, also features the familiar QVC "Today's Special Value" and customers can click "On the air" to see the current QVC offering. iQVC's own surveys show that 53% of its customers come from QVC and 21% come from "word of mouth." The demographics reveal that iQVC's customers on the whole are slightly younger and wealthier than the QVC customer base. iQVC has a 70% female base, while QVC has an 85% female base.

"QVC is geared to 'impulse' buys by viewers," says Hamlin, "while iQVC is oriented to 'considered purchase' buys. One of the keys to our success is that we have a good product search engine on our site. When they log-on to iQVC, 50% of our customers first use the search feature to find a product quickly. We also offer expanded search functions. For example, customers can search the fashion category by size, color, brand and price, and they can search the jewelry category by size."

iQVC's intricate back-end web technology allows for fast page loading, seamless links, and clean navigation. "People should intuitively know how to navigate your site," reinforces Hamlin. "If customers cannot easily navigate your site, they will go to a competitor. While we have vast technical capabilities, we do not deliver technology until the consumer is ready for it. As an example, we use video sparingly because for consumers with 28.8k modems, video is virtually worthless."

iQVC's easy-to-use website combined with QVC's reputation for outstanding customer service, superior delivery and quality merchandise make it the odds-on favorite to continue in its position as #1 online retailer in the general merchandise category.

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The Greg Gore Web Site on Computers and the Internet (www.GregGore.com)

This column was published in the Daily Local News, West Chester, PA on January 31, 2001. Greg Gore can be reached at gg@GregGore.com.

2009 by Greg Gore. All rights reserved.