QVC: everything you need to know about ecommerce

If you want super slick ecommerce, look no further than QVC. Hey! Stop sniggering at the back there. I’m serious…

I recently had to make a purchase through QVC for the boss of the house (it wasn’t for me, honestly. But damn, these slippers are comfy). She’s a registered member and gave me her QVC card to jump online and buy.

I went to the website, found what I was ordering, hit purchase, typed in her ID number and PIN – it asked if I just wanted to pay with the card on record and send to the address on record – and BOOM… That was it!

It probably took me about 50 seconds from the website first loading up. For impulse purchases after seeing something on the TV, you can’t really do much better than that.

The numbers

In case you think I’m alone in thinking this, you’re wrong. In 2008, QVC made a pre-tax profit of £19.9m. Its parent company broadcasts to more than 150 million homes and has a turnover of about $2.5bn. That’s nearly Google money!

The website

The QVC UK website is nothing ground breaking in terms of design, but if you make that much money, there’s probably something a bit deeper than nice colour combinations going on here.

Nice and clear as soon as you load the page is a sliding image panel showing “Award Winning Skincare”, “Today’s Hot Picks” and “See our web brands first”. If someone were to visit the website out of the blue, there’s a good chance they’ll click on one of those.

The pretty standard horizontal navigation doesn’t really warrant that much praise — it’s what’s down the left that interests me.

“Top Item”: items from the last 24 hours. Perfect. You watch some QVC (not me you understand) and you hop on the PC later to buy something. Hit the first link you see on the left and you’ll quickly find what you’re looking for.

If you’re quicker off the sofa, the next link down is “Item on Air Now”. That’s pure genius. No searching, no faffing, no frustration. Click. Choose colour. Buy. Bye.

There’s a TV guide. There’s a “Watch Live” page. There’s a Beauty Channel with pictures, videos and beauty stuff and things. There’s a link to today’s product videos and there are presenters’ blogs.

If someone didn’t click the big rolling slideshow, and didn’t click the really handy links down the left, then the next in line are the other sure-to-be-clicked links: Bestsellers, By Brand, Bargains, New Arrivals, Web Firsts. All juicy stuff.

The phone

During my extensive research for this blog (Wikipedia and Yahoo! Answers), I read that there are nearly 2,000 people employed by QVC just to work the phones at some place near Liverpool. Two thousand?! I work at a company with a hundred people, and that feels big. Two thousand!

I lied earlier. I said I ordered something in under a minute on the website. I forgot to mention that actually I did have problems the time before: I couldn’t get my wife’s card to work (re-read that – I said MY WIFE’S card). The second time it failed, the site suggested I call a number on screen. Oh here we go, I thought.

Ring ring. ″Hello?″

Damn, that was fast! I explained my problem. She fixed my problem. Then she took my order over the phone. If you want ecommerce process… or just commerce processes, note down everything QVC do and do the same. They’re good.

Back to the website

Now onto their product pages. Let’s just say that after the 50 seconds it took you to order something, you take a stroll around their website. Their product pages are pretty damn good too.

Images

They have a collection of images for each of the products. Not just the same damn handbag from a few different angles, they’ve got photos of the different colours, photos of the different styles, photos showing how versatile they are, photos on models, photos showing the inside.

You can also zoom in on the photos – one of the best product zooms I’ve ever seen, too. It’s not the slickest, coolest looking flash/jQuery zoom — but it works really well.

Annoying details like the price are kept out the way… but who cares about that when you’ve seen all the different ways you can wear that handbag!

Video

They don’t just have a rubbish little 30 second clip of the product, you can rewatch the entire 30 minute segment from QVC (TV) through the site. If the website didn’t convince you buy, their hynotic, subliminal message broadcasts will. Buuuy. I waaaant thaaaat. Muuust buuuy.

Customer ratings and reviews

Everyone harps on about how great and important these are. But QVC have them right there, right near the top for everyone to see. Not buried below the dreaded 600px line.

You may also like

Ooh, I do actually quite like that.

Postage and packing Info

No horrid surprises later down the line.

Availability

OK, so they’re sold out. So what? Hit a quick button and get on the waiting list. No missed purchases here!

Product description

This is pretty much the only thing that’s “off the screen” (Aaah! Scrollbars!). I guess after seeing all the juicy stuff above, checking over the details (material, measurements, etc) it’s the final thing you do to convince yourself you really do need this handbag. I wonder if they sell iPads?

Things they don’t have

I’m not trying to be a smart-arse here as I’m pretty sure they’ve thought everything through. It’s just interesting to note they didn’t bother with breadcrumbs, a nice flexible layout (come on guys, surely that’s no bad thing), or cack icons of the cards they accept.

Payment

It’s kind of annoying when you really want to buy something but you haven’t got enough money to actually get it there and then, isn’t it? It happened to me once in the late 1990s before I came incredibly wealthy. I can vaguely remember the feeling.

Anyway, you won’t have that feeling around QVC. On their special daily offers they don’t just do the “ooh buy it now and get 25 pence off your next order”, they throw in a much bigger bone.

Don’t have enough money now? How about you split the payments over three months?Interest free. And no, we won’t bother checking credit or any boring nonsense like that. They even have a nice sounding name that makes it all the more tempting: “Three easy payments.”

Returns

We’ve all bought £1 webcams off of eBay and been really annoyed when they stopped working two years later. I’m still annoyed.

Well you don’t have that nagging doubt about shopping on QVC, they give you a 30-day returns policy, no questions asked. Doesn’t cover speedos though, as I found out to my disappointment.

Getting down with the kids

I don’t think they read out tweets on the TV, but they do take regular phone calls, have scrolling SMS messages on screen, send Christmas cards to all their customers, do road shows. Apparently you can order from your sofa using the red button (yikes, that sounds dangerous), you can order through an automated phone line, and do you remember those old things from back in the day? Cheques! They even take cheques! And yes they have Twitter accounts and no doubt a Facebook page and a… All that usual stuff.

The moral of the story

If you’ve never ordered through QVC, hop on and buy the missus a duvet set for Christmas (apparently they’re about 20 quid), if only just to see how easy everything is. Is that a moral?

Probably not.

I should have got some kind of affiliate link into this. Damn.

Paul Ashton is a Cambridgeshire-based web designer and developer. You can read more and find out more about him on his TheYellowBrickRoad website, and be sure to also follow him on Twitter. Disclosure: he doesn’t work for QVC and swears he has never owned a QVC card himself!

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