So you want to get your product on QVC. That makes sense, considering the channel broadcasts to more than 350 million homes, is worth over 8 billion, and has a repeat customer rate of over 90%.
But before you spend precious time and resources trying to get on, it’s essential to learn about the company and answer the following questions, either by yourself or by hiring a manufacturers rep.
- Is my product right for QVC?
- Is my company ready for QVC?
- Would a different company be a better fit?
Is My Product Right For QVC?
Being a ballerina is a great way to stay in shape and express yourself artistically, but I’m a terrible dancer and about a foot taller than all ballerinas. Much like how ballet and I are not a good fit, you and QVC might not be compatible. Your product might be great and worthy of being on shelves across the nation, but if it doesn’t fit into the relatively narrow description of what QVC is looking for, they won’t accept it.
Luckily, QVC wants its applicants to succeed, and they give pretty detailed descriptions of what they’re looking for. Ask yourself honestly, does your product meet the following criteria?
Would your grandma think it’s cool?
There are a lot of specific categories and guidelines that make a good QVC product, but answering this question is a pretty accurate shortcut.
Part of QVC’s power is how specific their target market is. They aren’t trying to sell to the world; they’re trying to sell to older women with disposable income. On QVC’s website, they describe their ideal customer using only female pronouns, and while they won’t release exact information about age, they have revealed that 52% of their customers are women between the ages of 35 and 64.
In addition to age and gender, mobility and location play a part in the average QVC customer. People who have limited mobility for any reason may find it easier to shop by watching television in the comfort of their own homes rather than travel to a mall. This customer trait is seen in some of QVC’s products, like the Sock Slider, a device that allows people who have difficulty reaching their feet to put socks on without assistance. People who live in isolated, rural areas that aren’t close to any malls or shopping centers are also more likely to use QVC instead of traveling long distances.
Is Your Product In The Right Category?
QVC releases the exact product categories it’s looking to sell, as well as categories it will not accept.
Categories QVC Is Interested In:
- Women’s Apparel/ Accessories
- Bakeware and Cookware
- Bed and Bath
- Consumer Electronics
- Handbags and Luggage
- Health and Fitness
- Home Decor
- Home Improvement
- Home Textiles
- Household Cleaners
- Kitchen Gadgets/ Electrics
- Patio and Garden
- Personal Care
- Pet Products
- Storage Solutions
Categories QVC will NOT accept:
- Feminine/ Personal Hygiene
- Fuel additives
- Gambling-related Products
- Genuine Furs
- Sexual Aids
- Tobacco-related Products
Does Selling Your Product Make Good TV?
Selling on QVC is different from any other type of sales, because not only does the product itself have to be something people want, but it has to make for exciting television.
Each product has to be able to fill a slot that’s at least 5–6 minutes long, and QVC will try their best to make sure no one is going to get bored and turn off their TVs.
What makes good TV? Well…
Does Your Product Have A Unique Story?
How did you invent your product? Is it a charming story that will delight viewers? Is it heartwarming and touching? If you’re selling something that most likely isn’t patentable like clothes, jewelry, or makeup, why would QVC viewers purchase your brand and not a competitor? There are going to be plenty of people with excellent designs, so the products that get picked need to have a captivating story as well as a quality product.
Is It New Or Novel?
If people have never seen anything like your product before, that’s compelling television. QVC specifically asks for products that are new and novel on their vendor application site.
Is It Demonstratable?
One of the most significant advantages to selling on QVC is the demonstration aspect of the sales pitch. Because you have dedicated eyes on a screen for several minutes, products that aren’t easily understood at first glance actually have an advantage. Not only is it engaging content to learn how something works, but people watching will feel like they’re ‘getting it,’ and then feel a sense of inclusion.
Do You Have A Social Media Following?
QVC regularly uses celebrities to bring added value to their segments, and if you have a significant social following that will tune in to watch you on TV, that’s a huge plus. Although QVC’s target market is older women, that doesn’t mean they’re tech avoidant. In fact, 48% of their US sales are in e-commerce, and half of those sales are on mobile.
Is It Attainable Aspiration?
Although they don’t explicitly say this to the viewers, they tell salespeople in training to make sure they’re thinking about attainable aspiration.
With this comes focusing on the customer, specifically what emotional reaction you want her to have when she’s viewing your product. Mark Lubragge, QVC’s talent manager, literally shows this picture during training:
He explains that ordinary people have great aspirations to be a movie star, to be special and beautiful, and that QVC is here to give products that boost their sense of self in a realistic and attainable way.
So those are the things that QVC is looking for. Now, let’s examine if you’re ready for QVC, and if it makes financial sense for your business.
Is My Company Ready For QVC?
(If It Doesn’t Sell, You’re On The Hook Financially)
QVC is a great opportunity, but those dollar signs can go from black to red in an instant, or rather, in five minutes of airtime.
QVC needs to sell volume, and they can’t offer products on TV that don’t exist in real life. This means products need to be mass produced because QVC’s order minimum is a wholesale cost of around $30 — $35K. All products must be delivered to QVC before airtime.
If your product sells out, great! You have a winner on your hands, and QVC may choose to re-air your segment, or have you back to record a new one.
However, QVC always maintains the right to return any unsold material, so you may wind up with a bunch of excess inventory. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but you want to make sure your business is in a place financially to take this risk on. Entrepreneurs have been known to take drastic measures to get the funds required to produce enough product for QVC, sell only a few units, and then are saddled with a 2nd mortgage on their home.
QVC takes its manufacturing requirements very seriously. They want to make sure that you can mass produce your product at a consistent quality level, and they closely inspect any claims you make about your product. They spent 18 months inspecting Supersmile, a line of tooth cleaning and whitening products.
Exclusivity and Patents
A key part of QVC’s business plan is to offer items that can only be found on QVC. This can be an advantage for young companies without a ton of sales data; QVC likes to pick up unique products in their infancy. They also love any items that are patented, so that QVC can continue to be the only seller if the product becomes a hit.
Price and Margins
QVC does not release data about what percent of the sales they keep and how much goes to the business owner, but having a successful product on QVC certainly seems to make their entrepreneurs rich.
Since all products must be shipped, QVC generally doesn’t sell anything for less than $10 — $15, and their sweet spot is in the $50 — $100 range. This doesn’t mean that lower cost items can’t be sold, they just need to be bundled, like how they sell Scrub Daddy’s in packages of 8–12.
Would a different company be a better fit?
While researching QVC, it’s worth looking into other similar businesses as well as QVC’s competitors.
- HSN: QVC acquired the Home Shopping Network in 2018, but they will both maintain their individual identities, and they’re a great alternative if QVC doesn’t choose your product.
- As Seen On TV: If your product doesn’t quite fit in with the QVC brand, but is quirky and novel, consider applying to As Seen On TV.
- Zulily: QVC acquired the shopping website Zulily in 2015 for 2.4 billion dollars. Apply here if your product is more for Millennial moms, not Gen X and Baby Boomers.
How To Apply
Once you’re sure the financial risk is worth it and you’re ready to apply, you have two routes.
- Fill out their online form: QVC has an open submission process, the link to apply is here. They only take submissions during certain times of the year, so you may find yourself unable to apply during most months.
- Get paired up with a manufacturers rep: A more realistic way to apply is by finding a manufacturers rep who wants to take on your product. Reps have personal relationships with the 170 buyers at QVC, and the buyers will take their product pitches year round. Finding a rep is easy at sites like Abound.
Getting on QVC is an entrepreneurs dream, but it’s not an easy task. Your best bet is to take things one at a time, carefully research if getting on QVC is a goal that makes sense for your business, and to apply with a knowledgeable rep by your side.