In its second-largest acquisition, Amazon buys the company for $970 million.
The web and TV retailer aims to reach shoppers on social networks and all devices.
Online shopping no longer is about just the convenience of easy ordering and delivery, says Mindy Grossman, CEO and director of HSN Inc.
“The entire experience of shopping has gone through a transformation,” Grossman told analysts during HSN’s recent investor day presentation.
Grossman and other HSN executives outlined the retailer’s strategy and the role of e-commerce in it. E-commerce now includes social networks, mobile commerce, e-commerce and television programming for HSN. For example, consumers are soliciting the insights of their friends and advice from retailers prior to purchase, and sharing online their post-purchase impressions, too. Consumers want the same experience from a retailer regardless of the device they use or when they use it. Shopping is about the experience, Grossman says. She calls it “boundaryless retail.”
Because those boundaries are coming down, HSN, No. 26 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 guide, is forgoing a traditional channel-based approach, Grossman says. “Shopping as a series of silos is not relevant,” she says. Instead, with the advent of multiple portable devices, in addition to the desktop computer and television, and the quick adoption by consumers of social networks, HSN is poised to use all of these tools to do a better job of selling, she says. “We want to offer an immersive and unique shopping experience,” Grossman says.
HSN will do that by offering content, community and commerce to its shoppers. Content is the programming, videos and product information available via television, tablets, smartphones and on personal computers. Community is the ability of consumers to share their pre- and post-purchase thoughts about HSN products on a variety of sites. Commerce comes from motivating consumers to make HSN purchases.
One of the central ways HSN will do that is with digital commerce, encompassing mobile and e-commerce.
The first decade or so of e-commerce has been dominated by search, says Jill Braff, executive vice president of digital commerce. “It was utility- and price-driven,” Braff says. “What’s changing in the past five years is the explosion of smartphones and the connectivity that comes with it.” Smartphones are more personal devices for many consumers, and when coupled with ever-present Internet access, leads to social shopping, she says.
By embracing social shopping, HSN can engage consumers in online communities with tailored content, real-time interaction via chat and by posting content suited for the consumer, Braff says.
In January, HSN will debut a redesigned e-commerce site that incorporates this strategy, offering increased personalization and a shopping experience that is seamless across tablets, the web and smartphones, she says. “Our ultimate aim is to improve conversion.”
Mobile commerce, especially, has a key role in capturing more sales and attracting consumers. HSN reported its mobile commerce sales totaled more than $100 million in the first three quarters of 2012, approximately 10.1% of its overall e-commerce sales of $990.5 million for the same period.
And so far this year, mobile accounts for 20% of HSN’s new customers, Braff says. “A multichannel shopper is more engaged and spends more money,” she says.