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FOCUS: QVC Looks to Television to Make Big Online Splash

(This article was originally published Monday.) --Foundation lies with a television network that reaches six million viewers a day in the U.S. --People want to shop through a variety of devices and QVC is engaging with customers across these platforms, CEO says By Karen Talley NEW YORK--QVC is using its biggest asset, television, to build an online empire. The company, the biggest unit of Liberty Interactive Corp. (LINTA), is cross-selling using just about all the ways it can. There is traditional online selling through QVC's Internet site that connects shoppers to merchandise. There is also mobile shopping through applications. The foundation for it all lies with a television network that reaches six million viewers a day in the U.S. Through the shows, which still produce the majority of QVC's revenue through phone orders, the company encourages viewers to place their orders online, and then some. During "PM Style with Lisa Robertson," for instance, Robertson will regularly tell viewers that not only can they make their purchase through the Internet, they will also find an extended assortment online, in a boosted opportunity for sales. Viewers of "In The Kitchen With David" are able to interact with the live program through an app that can steer the content of the show through questions, comments and suggestions. QVC even takes it on the road, conducting a live Twitter feed on its "Fashion Night Out" program during Fashion Week. During the show, the network debuted merchandise that could be bought online. QVC has five apps in total, including its namesake; one for Isaac Mizrahi products; a beauty products app; a gift app; and an app for "In the Kitchen with David." Shoppers use these to connect with QVC for additional information about merchandise and to make purchases. "We are seeing how customers are changing their behavior of how they shop," said QVC Chief Executive Mike George. "People want to shop through a variety of devices and we're engaging with customers across these platforms." QVC, which accounted for $8.3 billion of Liberty Interactive's $9.6 billion in revenue last year, is seeing its digital efforts pay off. More than one-third of domestic sales and 20% of international sales are now through online purchases and 5% of sales come from mobile devices. It doesn't hurt that the typical QVC watcher is a "voracious shopper," said Mr. George. "They shop as entertainment, looking for value." Consumer research shows QVC viewers shop anywhere from Neiman Marcus to Macy's Inc. (M) to Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), so the competitive field is a wide one. But QVC is well positioned, said Morgan Stanley analyst David Gober, who cited its "loyal customer base, status as the eighth-largest online retail company by revenues, and category flexibility." Mr. George said QVC provides more live programming than any other television network in the world. Christmas is the only day QVC isn't live. QVC also recognizes it has to offer products that cannot be gotten anywhere else and 75% of its merchandise is exclusive. The company is "elevating the quality of our own products and bringing in more quality brands," Mr. George said. Write to Karen Talley at karen.talley@dowjones.com

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