Retailers are consistently being told to make storytelling their key motivation when designing and marketing new collections, and no one showcases this better than TV channel QVC. For customers who can’t touch or try-on a piece of jewellery before they buy it is up to the presenters to weave a fabulous story; whether that’s a tale of catwalk fashion trends or explaining the origins of pearls.
QVC UK’s main TV channel is available to 27 million homes, 24 hours a day, alongside its three sister channels: QVC Beauty, QVC Style and QVC Extra, with its roster of brands including Bill Skinner, Links of London, Lola Rose and Clogau.
Here, QVC director of buying for jewellery and fashion accessories, Joanna Mansbridge, explains what makes buying for a television audience challenging and what she looks for in emerging brands looking to make their mark…
Q: When you visit trade shows what do you look out for and what is it that normally catches your eye?
JM: I am always looking for new and emerging trends or brands. Seeing a concept or trend growing in popularity helps us to decide with how much confidence, and when, we should back it and introduce it to our customers. Always on my radar, although more difficult to spot, are fresh ideas on how to update the more timeless pieces to give them a new lease of life.
Q: Does the nature of QVC as a broadcast sales channel mean you have to buy differently to others?
JM: We have to think about the visual impact for television, however the story behind the item is incredibly important as we are able to bring this to life on screen. Whilst price is key, we sell high value pieces very well so it’s all about demonstrating the quality and value of the item to our customers.
Q: Are there any jewellery brands that have done particularly well on QVC recently and why do you think that is?
JM: A variety of brands have proved to be very popular recently, demonstrating our ability to act as a jewellery department store – everything from high end diamonds, to quintessential British brands like Links of London and celebrity endorsed collections from Julien Macdonald, Kelly Hoppen and Michelle Mone. We also do well with niche artisan brands with a unique story and fashion lifestyle brands like Lola Rose and Orla Kiely, who recently launched a few pieces from her brand new jewellery collection with us.
Q: What are you looking for in 2016? Are there any areas that you are looking to fill with new brands?
We are always seeking out new brands to continually evolve our portfolio and excite our customers. We are expanding more into lifestyle jewellery and accessory brands, as we have found that a customer naturally wants to see other accessory items to update their look if they love a brand. This also helps us to create a more exciting and visual TV show.
Q: What would be your advice for new brands who are looking to connect with you, or showcase their products to you?
JM: We are looking for that ever important story behind your brand and product, something we can weave a story around to bring it to life on air and build an emotional connection with a future customer. We, and our customers, crave something different so unique concepts and a collection that stands out from the crowd are key, particularly as the high street continues to produce replicas of each other’s products.
Q: What has been your experience of attending International Jewellery London?
JM: I think it’s a real destination for anyone in the industry to see a cross section of some of the best brands and new emerging talent coming through. It’s always well organised with something for everyone, and the seminars and presentations provide topical updates on what’s relevant.
Q: Finally, what is the best thing about being a buyer for QVC?
JM: As the director of buying I am lucky to work with all the buyers across the team so am involved in the broader spectrum of everything we buy. The best thing will always be seeing that sales spike when you first launch a product or brand that resonates with your customers, and ultimate music to my ears is when you hear the presenter say the product is limited stock and then the sold badge appears on screen.
I also love having the cross section of collections from the latest rare gem find to a new celebrity or designer collaboration. No day is the same and we are continually excited by the next new concept. It’s a very innovative place to work, and I strongly believe that building multiple platform retail concepts is the way forward for merging the worlds of entertainment and shopping.