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  • - You can't fake it.

  • You go on live for a broadcast, whatever happens happens.

  • - You could also feel the sense

  • of stress and performance within the office of QVC.

  • Everyone there is there for one thing only,

  • and that is to sell as much as they can.

  • - The blender was one of the first products

  • that we launched on home shopping network.

  • As soon as we heard the noise drowning out the speech.

  • (blender whirring)

  • Rachel and I looked at each other

  • and we were like, oh no, this is going to be a disaster.

  • (upbeat music)

  • - Live shopping has existed for decades, QVC and HSN

  • the two biggest names in the space, sell products live

  • on TV in real time.

  • And now gadget makers who are willing

  • to try something different and take a risk

  • are finding incredible success

  • and reaching new audiences on these shopping channels.

  • Creators pursue live shopping

  • on the promise of selling hundreds of units in minutes.

  • But at the same time, they face enormous risk.

  • One bad live shoot, and that's it.

  • Their chance at viral gadget sales is over.

  • - I'm Evan dash.

  • I'm the CEO and founder of StoreBound.

  • We market our products under several different brands

  • including dash kitchen appliances.

  • We make smart furniture under the Sobro brand.

  • We started the company about 10 years ago.

  • My wife and I were ex retailers.

  • And we saw that there was really a need

  • for a better way of bringing products to the market.

  • The team from home shopping network came in

  • and they came to us and said, we want to launch your brand.

  • We worked for about two years doing product development.

  • And then in 2012 we launched our first products

  • on home shopping network for us

  • to be able to tap into 92 million homes.

  • Once we understood the reach

  • and then started watching videos and saw the way

  • that we could actually present

  • the products we almost didn't want to sell it

  • any other way at that point.

  • (bright upbeat music)

  • - I am the founder of Somnox

  • and we are a company that is helping people sleep better

  • in a device that we call the Somnox sleep robot.

  • Back in the university of technology Delft.

  • I was a robotics engineer.

  • And during that time, my mom was suffering from insomnia.

  • Basically me creating robotics and seeing my mom suffer

  • I was like, why not combine the world

  • of robotics and sleep into an invention?

  • - So why did you think QVC was the best place

  • to sell the sleep robot?

  • - Our product is expensive

  • and it is a high entry to start using it.

  • I would say it's very hard to do

  • in a very short advertisement on Facebook and Google.

  • And at QVC that's what I found.

  • You really get the opportunity to explain

  • to people, okay, what is it?

  • Why do you need it?

  • And I think that's why it is working for us.

  • - Let's talk about the way that this works then Julian.

  • 'Cause I think that's really important

  • because once you're holding it, you can really feel

  • what this is doing.

  • - Exactly, so you can see the falling

  • and rising of the breathe.

  • And once you feel that breathing pace, it will start

  • to synchronize to you with sensors

  • that can see how you're sleeping.

  • (upbeat music)

  • - Everybody wants to tell something about their product

  • and everybody wants a compelling story

  • because you want to justify your purchase.

  • I'm Lauren Beitelspacher, and I am an associate professor

  • of marketing at Babson College and also

  • the division chair for marketing.

  • - So I guess it really doesn't surprise you that, you know

  • we've talked to all these gadget creators

  • that they've found success on there.

  • - Yeah, no, not at all.

  • QVC home shopping, live shopping, things are great

  • and really appropriate for technology

  • because it allows the customer to see it in use.

  • We can almost as a customer feel it

  • and see ourselves doing it.

  • - As a company we gravitate toward products

  • that require a lot of explanation.

  • They have cool stories behind it.

  • We sold close to 40,000 pieces that day.

  • I mean that single day with live video selling of it.

  • We've also put the product into retail stores

  • and it has literally sat and collected dust

  • in a retail environment.

  • The biggest challenges of any type

  • of live video based retailing is that you're live.

  • There's no safety net.

  • In the case of the blender, it's exceptionally loud.

  • I mean, it is a loud blender, and you could hear

  • the sound drowning out the sound of the host and the guest.

  • And they were able to adjust it very quickly.

  • But what we can't do is just fake the video

  • and pretend to set the blender on over here

  • and then actually bring back one that's already run.

  • I mean, they are so strict about making sure that anything

  • that we're broadcasting is done 100% authentically.

  • That can be a really, really daunting type of experience.

  • It's very rare that people are in that type of situation.

  • - So once I understood that QVC was actually life, you know,

  • the night before I barely couldn't sleep.

  • It was actually really tough

  • because in a way you need to forecast

  • the amount of units you think you will be selling.

  • And then you just fingers crossed, you will be selling out.

  • And in the first batch we did like 60 units or so, entering

  • the studio seeing six robots, camera man and lighting.

  • And they have like different settings

  • with a bedroom and a kitchen.

  • And there's models doing cheetah.

  • There's this big dashboard within the studio

  • where you can see in real time,

  • how many orders came through.

  • And within the minute there was like

  • beep, beep, we're out of stock.

  • And the salesperson would say

  • okay, well, hold up, you can't order anymore.

  • There's no stock.

  • And I was like, wait, is this a dream?

  • Can someone pinch me?

  • And like wake me up, is this real?

  • That's also the danger because you're

  • in such a hype mode that you think,

  • okay, well, this is it, right?

  • We need to go all in.

  • And that's where you're going to make mistakes.

  • - It's kind of a win lose, right?

  • If you do sell through it great,

  • however, that's your window.

  • And so then you don't really get another chance

  • versus like traditional brick and mortar stores.

  • You get a little bit longer selling season

  • to sell through something.

  • QVC, or, you know, other kinds of live tapping events.

  • You really get that window that time.

  • And if it doesn't work, you might not get another chance.

  • - So the second time we went live, we scaled up

  • to a bigger batch of 240 pieces because we were all

  • so certain it would be a huge success again.

  • However, the show didn't go as well.

  • First of all, we didn't sell out well

  • that's okay where the quantity was much bigger.

  • But second of all, also the storyline was different.

  • There was a different hype.

  • Some of the users that bought it, they received it

  • without a particular charger or there

  • there was some delivery issues which resulted

  • in initially some reviews that were not helping us out.

  • During the live airing, I was already feeling

  • that it wasn't going well.

  • You could just, the salesmen felt

  • that the camera man felt it.

  • There's this huge pressure on you

  • because the big screen is showing you, are you performing?

  • That didn't sell out the way we predicted they would

  • which resulted in that the stock

  • that was there was being shipped back to us completely.

  • And we were actually quite disappointed about, okay, wow.

  • It was such a great start.

  • And now we have maybe even

  • a bigger burden than a bigger win.

  • - To understand why QVC can be so risky.

  • You have to understand the basics of retail.

  • There are a few different models and both QVC and HSN

  • don't like to talk about the specifics of their deals.

  • So it could vary based on brand.

  • In traditional retail, the ideal scenario

  • for creator would be a store buying a product

  • at a wholesale or cheaper price.

  • The store would then mark the products' price up

  • to make money and is incentivized to sell that product

  • because it has already spend its own money to acquire it.

  • The creators make some cash

  • but not as much as they could have made selling it

  • on their own website, but still, it's something.

  • What QVC does at least for some brands

  • is buy inventory it thinks it can sell.

  • But then stipulates that whatever doesn't sell has

  • to be bought back by the brands.

  • This can be terrible for small creators

  • who are already strapped for cash.

  • They could lose a ton of money if nothing sells

  • because they had to front manufacturing costs and lose

  • the cash they thought they made on the units QVC bought.

  • To offset this risk, QVC

  • and HSN offer a different experience for brands.

  • For one their products aren't just sitting on a shelf

  • without anyone pushing for them to sell.

  • The team employs other tactics as well,

  • to show off a product design and encourage shoppers to buy.

  • (upbeat music)

  • - Live shopping really makes people feel excited.

  • Consumers go through this decision-making process

  • and all good retailers, all good salespeople want

  • to drive them through that process quickly and limit

  • the amount of search that they do for other competitors.

  • And so there's lots of different strategies that you can do.

  • There's pricing strategies.

  • - It'll make it under $60 to get this home

  • which it would save you $110.

  • There's a clock ticking

  • and we see inventory quantity is going down.

  • 250 of those left.

  • I've got a few more minutes to get that

  • or those ones will be all gone.

  • - They have the same problems and the same challenges.

  • And it creates this sense of empathy and friendship.

  • You know, this comradery that we're in this together.

  • - And I will tell you, I am one of those individuals

  • that I was terrified.

  • And even the prospect of jumping a car just a few days ago.

  • - I don't want you to miss this because I care about you.

  • And I know that this is going to make your life better.

  • - Mophie made this for us.

  • They made this for you.

  • - HALO bolt, which is the car starter

  • that was really brought with the QVC, HSN consumer

  • at mind forefront because it's such a demonstrable product.

  • and it demonstrates so easy on that channel.

  • - We've started that vehicle.

  • - Shannon.

  • - Goodbye.

  • - We did it.

  • - Oh my goodness.

  • - Chris Ahern is the CEO of ZAGG, the company

  • behind brands like mophie and iFrogZ.

  • Zack acquired its competitor HALO in 2019 specifically

  • because of its relationship with QVC and HSN.

  • So, does your product design change for QVC or HSN

  • or do you change your products?

  • Because you know they're going to be on live shopping.

  • - Before we acquired HALO, speaking to the team

  • when they started off with QVC, HSN

  • they brought to market a straight black power bank.

  • It was not successful at all.

  • But having that partnership, they went back