QVC chief bullish about Cyber Monday

Posted: December 03, 2013

This holiday season, more than half of the nation's employees will shop online - during work hours - reports the online job board CareerBuilder.

On Cyber Monday, that has to be good news for Mike George, 52, chief executive of QVC Inc., one of the nation's largest online mass retailers. It's ranked second, after Amazon.

Online? Isn't QVC a television shopping channel?

In the most recent quarter, online shopping accounted for 37 percent of the West Chester company's global revenue, with mobile bringing in a third of U.S. e-commerce sales.

"I think it's a reflection of how much our business is changing," he said, "from the traditional TV format to multi-screen, multi-platforms online."

Question: How are shoppers using mobile?

Answer: You might actually be watching the television show, and, literally, two clicks on your iPhone, you will have purchased the item on air. So we see very high sales of the item on air as a result of that. They tend to be using the iPad for browsing.

Q: Do you use your mobile phone to shop?

A: Yes.

Q: What did you last buy?

A: Mrs. Prindable's chocolate-covered apples - it was our top item [recently]. My daughter Katie wanted to get these apples as gifts to her friends.

Q: How much were they?

A: $39

Q: Any other changes?

A: What's really interesting is that people are engaging with multiple screens at the same time.

Q: For example?

A: We have a very popular cooking show called In the Kitchen with David. We have an In the Kitchen app and we will be presenting recipes, more information about the product, so you have a second-screen experience.

Q: Anything else?

A: There's also an interactive element. As you are watching that show, you can ask David questions through our app. He answers several in real time. It makes what used to be this sort of lean-back passive, experience [more] of a lean-in, active experience.

Q: You have an orientation period for new QVC executives.

A: I tell everyone: For six months, I want you to accomplish absolutely nothing except to learn.

Q: That seems so counter to the usual approach of new hires trying to make a big impact quickly.

A: They struggle with it hugely because they are used to having an impact.

Q: Do you like retailing?

A: I just love that you are a hero or a bum based on what the sales of the last minute are. You have your minute-by-minute sales results on your iPhone, so I do get up in the middle of the night and check.

Q: Really? At night?

A: I wake up for some reason, often going to the bathroom. [We] have our biggest sale at midnight, so let me check how it went - especially at this time of year, when the stakes are so high. That gives you adrenaline.

Q: Can you still sleep?

A: Yeah, I can. I try to discipline myself and sometimes try not to look at it.

Q: How much money do you spend at QVC?

A: I'm not sure I want to give the number.

Q: Let me ask it this way: How often do you shop?

A: Two or three times a week. There's no shortage of things you can think of that you need. I do get an employee discount.

Q: What's the discount?

A: I think it's 30 percent.


Title: President, chief executive, QVC Inc.

Hometown: Berwyn.

Family: Wife, Amy; children, Chris, 23; Matt, 20; Nick, 16; Katie, 14.

Diplomas: Northwestern University, master's in finance, bachelor's in economics.

Resumé: Chief marketing officer at Dell Inc.; senior retail partner at McKinsey & Co.

Favorite QVC purchases: Keurig coffee brewers, P90X Extreme Fitness DVDs.


Headquarters: West Chester.

Business: Retail.

Ownership: Wholly owned subsidiary, Liberty Interactive Corp.

2012 Revenue: $8.5 billion.

Global: 34 pct. of revenue from China, United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Japan.

Reach: 166 million products to 290 million homes.

Employees: 17,000 globally, 2,500 in region.

On TV: Dish, Comcast, DIRECTV.


Mike George on his reasons for slow-starting QVC's executives.



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