June 6, 2013, 11:13 AM

HSN breaks boundaries

At IRCE, CEO Mindy Grossman talks m-commerce, online games and other topics.

Lead Photo

CEO Mindy Grossman speaking today at IRCE 2013 in Chicago.

As technology, social networks, mobility and TV shape retail, HSN Inc. wants to make itself stand out by creating shopping experiences that transcend channels and cross all screens, said CEO Mindy Grossman in her keynote address today at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2013 in Chicago. Her speech was entitled “How boundaryless retail drives 21st century success”

“We’re redefining ourselves as an entertainment lifestyle network across all screens,” Grossman said. “We do not even use the term channels anymore. Channels means silos. And in a boundaryless retail world, there cannot be any silos within the company or in front of the consumer.”

HSN is No. 24 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

Four elements help to differentiates web and mobile retailer HSN, Grossman said. All four must come together to create an experience that meets the needs and desires of today’s consumers, she added.

Grossman described the elements as:

• Insights, by which she meant “where you use data to create meaning.”

• Engagement, or “how are you engaging beyond just the transaction.” She added: “It might be one of the 50,000 videos we have or the HSN Arcade game platform.”

• Generosity, which means providing ideas, information and entertainment to a consumer without expecting a sale directly in return.

• Trust, which she described as going beyond privacy to “trust in the community, how people are talking with one another and how you are talking to the customer.”

Grossman added: “Those four elements live within the new world of boundaryless retail. And they are driven by innovation, collaboration, and leveraging technology to create a seamless experience for customers.”

Mobile commerce will continue to drive change in the boundaryless retail landscape, Grossman said. Shoppers on smartphones and tablets are having a profound effect on HSN. The merchant raked in $167 million in mobile sales in 2012, and m-commerce sales grew 78% in Q1 2013 year over year, Grossman said. Mobile sales now represent 10% of HSN’s total sales—that is, not total web sales but total company sales.

“We think of business mobile-first, from the smartphone screen backwards,” she said. “Our mobile customer is the youngest, most affluent and most diverse. A lot of focus in our company is on the mobile experience, and giving the customer a reason to check in with us in the morning just like she would check the weather.”

One way HSN hopes to achieve that goal is through its mobile Spin To Win game. Every morning HSN mobile users can play this game, which gives them 10 spins to win prizes. This gives consumers a reason to check in with HSN every day, and fits in with the generosity element of creating a powerful experience because it’s giving away prizes without requiring a purchase, Grossman said.

Spin To Win also is part of HSN’s gamification strategy. Gamification, using the principles and tactics of games to influence web and mobile design and content, has gained attention in the mobile realm. HSN launched its HSN Arcade on its e-commerce site two years ago. Games line up nicely with HSN’s key demographic—online and mobile games are most popular with women ages 30-45, Grossman said.

“Everyone should be thinking about gamification,” she said. “Gamification is much more than just playing games. Playing games and shopping are very similar—the thrill of the hunt, gaining a reward, sharing. In addition to launching HSN Arcade, we used elements of gamification across digital platforms. In the new site relaunch in January, there are places you can take quizzes, vote on different things and see how other people are voting—engagement and rewards.”

Grossman says she is pleased with the results of HSN Arcade, which offers 28 online games designed to reflect the HSN brand. Within the first year and a half, HSN Arcade racked up 100 million game plays and 700,000 registered users. Registered users play to win prizes, but on top of that they spend twice as much time on site than the average HSN visitor, visit HSN twice as often, and are more likely to convert, she reported.

“We’re trying to reach those millions of consumers who are looking to shop, share and play,” Grossman said. “We’re jumping head-first into boundaryless retail, reshaping the shopping landscape, and having fun doing it.”

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