January 18, 2013, 2:39 PM

HSN infuses social elements into a major e-commerce site redesign

The revamped HSN.com brings together e-commerce, mobile and social.

Lead Photo

It took 18 months and lots of integration to get it just right, but TV and web retailer HSN Inc. has a new HSN.com that lets shoppers have their say on practically every page.

The new redesign for HSN, No. 26 in the 2012 Internet Retailer Top 500, doesn’t just incorporate the company’s core e-commerce site. To keep up with consumers who want to browse and shop online with their web-enabled mobile devices and share comments and other content with family and friends, the new design also includes key mobile and social media updates as well. For example, a “Trending Now” bar across the bottom of each page shows a rotating set of popular products.

HSN last freshened up the look of is web site in 2007, but the core design and e-commerce platform, which HSN built and maintains internally, hadn’t been updated since 1999, says executive vice of digital commerce Jill Braff. “The site has a whole new look and feel that improves the customer experience for traditional e-commerce, mobile and social,” Braff says. “The old design was about capturing the customer experience on our web site, but the intent of the new design was to extend our reach even more into social media and mobile commerce and expand our relationship with customers and how they want to shop.”

The new design was completed with the help of Razorfish, a Seattle web site design and digital marketing agency, and site improvements include better navigation and faster performance. Shoppers can now get to a  merchandise page in fewer than two steps compared with as many as four clicks with the previous design, HSN says.  

Another big reason for overhauling the look and performance of its web site was to make HSN.com more than just a transactional site, Braff says. “The new HSN.com is meant to engage shoppers with options to browse shop and interact with HSN via social media and mobile commerce,” she says.

During the redesign process, HSN also worked with Mass Relevance, an Austin, Texas, social media platform development company, to update product pages with new elements such as The 20, which highlights the day’s most popular products and lets visitors vote on the top product of the day and then share the results with friends.

HSN is counting heavily on social media to drive traffic to its new site—an ambition HSN shares with many other retailers. A total of 95.9% of merchants say social media marketing is very important or important to the future of their business, according to research contained in Internet Retailer’s 2013 Social Media 300. "Through our redesign, HSN will further integrate content, community and commerce to create a unique shopping experience that you won't find anywhere else," Braff says.

New social functionality on most product pages include photo walls, instant polls, interactive questions and answers, and other features. Retooled product pages also feature less text and bigger images, along with navigation elements designed to get customers more quickly to featured merchandise and clearance items. “We see this new site as a real transformation,” Braff says.

A new design that incorporates traditional e-commerce, mobile commerce and social media is important to HSN’s Internet base, which is now generating more than 40% of all sales. HSN hasn’t set a date for releasing its final 2012 financials, but through the first nine months of the year E-commerce increased 13.7% to $990.5 million from $870.8 million in the first three quarters of 2011. The web accounted for 43.4% of all sales compared with 40.5% in the prior year.

HSN Inc. CEO Mindy Grossman is a keynote speaker at June’s Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2013 in Chicago. She will speak in a session entitled “How boundaryless retail drives 21st century success.”

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