Home shopping channel QVC is in the business of problem-solving, especially when it comes to finding viewers a comfortable pair of shoes.
And as a network that reaches more than 100 million homes, it relies on informed on-air talent such as footwear maven Jane Treacy, who has been with the company for nearly 30 years.
Treacy hosts Thursday night’s hour-long show “Shoe Shopping with Jane” and the “QVC Presents ‘FFANY Shoes on Sale'” broadcast. She told Footwear News her connection to the category runs deep. “Shoes are in my DNA,” said Treacy. “My grandfather was an Italian shoemaker. My father learned at his knee and worked in his shop.”
On-air, Treacy is often joined by representatives from QVC’s roster of comfort brands, which includes Clarks, Alegria, Vionic, Spenco, Earth and Ryka. Additional labels are available on QVC.com.
“We have something for everybody,” said Lisa Morrissey, VP of fashion merchandising and design, development and global sourcing for the West Chester, Pa.-based network. She added that QVC is able to cross consumer segments and global markets, including the U.K., Germany, Japan, Italy and, soon, China. “We don’t look at age demographics. We approach [selling] from a lifestyle perspective.”
That approach seems to resonate with viewers. According to Morrissey, more than 90 percent of QVC’s sales are with repeat customers. “We offer extended sizes and widths, with some styles in 12 colors,” she said. “It’s all about the right value and not driven by price.”
About 25 percent of the company’s overall business is in accessories and apparel. And QVC is now expanding its footwear offering with a concise selection of men’s styles.
Here, Treacy talks about the art of selling on TV and the importance of FFANY Shoes on Sale.
How do you make shopping on-air a more intimate experience?
JT: I miss the feeling of the local shoe store that knew your name and the styles and brands you love. I wanted to re-create that one-on-one experience on “Shoe Shopping with Jane.” I feel like I’m talking directly to customers, and they don’t have to wait in line. We’re able to give [shoppers] detailed technical information, even put up an animation to show how a shoe cups the heel and supports the arch, as well as what memory foam means in the sole and footbed.
Are you involved in the buying process?
JT: Every time I have a day off-air, I’ll get on a train and [accompany] the buying team. As hosts, we touch every aspect of the product. We meet with the buying team once a month to look at upcoming styles. I’ve also made trips to [individual] vendors, spending a great day at Clarks. It was eye-opening. I wasn’t aware of the intense amount of fashion information that goes into one of its Unstructured shoes.
What have been some of the biggest changes at QVC since you joined in 1986?
JT: We didn’t have QVC.com. When customers called [with an order] and we were busy on the phones, they waited in [turn]. I would [often] get off the air, go to the bank of phones and take an order. In the late 1990s, consumers [could] send me emails [with comments and questions]. Now we connect instantly through Facebook and other social media.
How important is customer feedback on-air and online?
JT: My favorite [on-air] moment was when a customer said her shoes were so comfortable she got into bed and forgot they were on. She woke up the next morning, looked down and found she still had them on. I [also] get a lot of constructive suggestions on my Facebook page, [including] how to present [products]. Viewers say, “Make sure you tell us the heel height,” or “Jane, I’m in between a narrow and a medium, so I need a shoe that adjusts.” They explain to me how I can make the experience more complete. [For example], we had an espadrille with a backstrap that customers said was either too short or too long. We went to the designer and said, “Can we add a buckle with a bit of elastic?” Instead of saying goodbye to the style, we updated it.
What does FFANY Shoes on Sale mean to you?
JT: It’s the shining moment of my year as a host. I sadly lost my mother to cancer, so I [channeled] that into work. I’ve [always] been an avid volunteer for cancer organizations. Then came Shoes on Sale. I was the logical choice [as host], since I had lived through it and would bring a unique perspective to the show. I’ve been there since day one, walking around New York to see designers [during] FFANY. It does my heart good to see years later how much money has been raised. My sister is a 12-year breast cancer survivor and was treated at the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania, [which receives] Shoes on Sale funds.