Gadget makers can hit the jackpot on QVC — if they’re willing to risk getting burned

Julian Jagtenberg’s first experience on QVC was incredible. In minutes, he sold nearly 60 units of his $600 Somnox sleep robot, an unprecedented sales experience for him.

“Within the minute there was like [a] beep beep, we’re out of stock,” he says. “And the salesperson [said], ‘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, like wake me up? Is this real?’”

Naturally, he doubled-down on QVC the next time he went live. Instead of projecting to sell around 60 units, he planned for 240. But this time, the segment didn’t deliver like he expected. He appeared on the segment from afar because of the pandemic, and instead of selling out almost instantly, he got stuck with the 200 units that didn’t sell. QVC sent them back to Somnox’s headquarters, and the team actually lost money on the segment, he says.

“QVC is a fantastic opportunity, but I also think it could be summarized into the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward,” he says.

QVC and HSN, both of which are owned by Liberty Interactive, came about decades ago, yet modern gadget makers — including Zagg, the company behind brands like Mophie and iFrogz — turn to them to sell their products. The networks present a huge opportunity to demo and show rapt viewers a product, and they can help a business explode. At the same time, though, they present tremendous risks. One unproductive live segment, and that’s it: they miss their chance at viral gadget sales.

In the season 2 debut of In The Making, I chat with executives of gadget companies, including Zagg CEO Chris Ahern, StoreBound CEO Evan Dash, and Jagtenberg of Somnox to learn how live shopping became a major retail strategy for them.

I also chat with Lauren Beitelspacher, an associate professor at Babson College who specializes in retail marketing, to learn about the tricks that keep shoppers hooked into the channels and wanting to buy.

Check out the episode above!

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