Beyond all of the “cloud chatter” and plethora of device announcements at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), HSN talked-up their “boundary less” retail strategy; digital efforts (driven in part by mobile gaming veteran and their EVP of Digital, Jill Braff); and offered sell-through proof points driven by their largely female audience (85 percent).
While the numbers are certainly impressive – one-third of sales is from digital sources (online, mobile), doubling of mobile sales (by the end of Q3 2011, HSN had already doubled the mobile sales from the previous year), and sold a half million Android tablets and 700K digital imaging devices in 2011.What’s more compelling is the wide array of targeted (female) digital efforts underway, including interactive TV, shop by remote capabilities, mobile (apps, QR codes), and online (including the launch of casual games, among others). These efforts are audience-focused, integrated cross-channel, with the goal of driving retail sales.
While it’s still early, the launch of online gaming (six months ago) is driving traffic and visits: HSN has seen 30 million game plays, with gaming visitors spending twice as much time on the HSN site and visiting twice as often. The goal is that more time spent = more retail sales. Time will tell if HSN’s preface that it’s not just time spent, but gaming activities themselves, that are synergistic in driving more retail sales. It will also be interesting to see how this and other efforts translate into extensions/enhancements to HSN’s mobile strategy (i.e., in-app gaming, shopping and sharing).
HSN certainly has an opportunity to ride the mobile shopping wave. According to NPD’s Connected Intelligence SmartMeter, which tracks consumer use of smartphone applications, websites and other content and services, shopping sites and applications enjoyed a significant upswing in use, beginning in November. Early results from December show that use increasing as consumers sought out the best deals. And, ultimately for HSN, it’s not just about delivering compelling applications; it’s also about delivering compelling mobile web experience. Regardless of what many consider, mobile website access is still a major access point. Indeed in November, NPD Connected Intelligence saw that shopping websites had a 69 percent reach compared to 53 percent for shopping apps.
HSN’s positioning at the intersection of women, technology and retail is compelling for CE manufacturers. The company needs to continue to exploit not only this powerful audience to drive sell-through of product, but also smartly integrate and optimize how consumers leverage many of these same products – from smartphones to tablets to smart TVs – with its content cross-screen, cross-platform.