Why HSN Isn’t the Same Network Your Mother Used to Watch

For 40 years, HSN has sold items from the TV straight into millions of homes.

But in the last few years, mounting pressures from online competitors and viewers’ decreasing appetite for watching live TV have forced the retailer to change the way it does business.

“The world is changing faster than any of us could have dreamed,” Bill Brand, the president of HSN, said at the FN CEO Summit, which ended today in Miami. “Technology has given consumers more power. She can do more with that phone in a matter of minutes. We are living in the time of speed.”

So how can brands and retailers like HSN more easily reach time-starved consumers who are also seeking unique experiences?

According to Brand, the key for merchants to win is to become “selfless retailers.”

He said the customer is in control, but it is the retailer’s responsibility to “nurture her and guide her.”

For Brand, HSN, which now sees half of its sales coming from its digital business, is staying ahead by providing customers with powerful content and rich experiences.

“It’s a simple formula,” he said. “Content plus context equals commerce. The only experience that matters is the one the customer is in at that moment.”

Brand said he has charged his team with making sure each piece of content the network produces is both customized and personalized. The goal, he said, is to bring to life experiences across all of HSN’s platforms.

To that end, the retailer recently produced a sneaker guide, which Brand said married content with experience. And it also cut down the bounce rate from HSN’s website.

“Content is the great disrupter. Content is king,” he said. “But context is the emperor.”

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