How to Sell Your Product through a TV Shopping Channel

by Angie Mohr on September 20, 2012
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If you sell products to individual consumers, the thought of moving several thousand units in a half hour probably makes you salivate. Such high-volume sales often happen on TV shopping channels like QVC and HSN: You can watch sales skyrocket while the product is displayed and customers place orders online and over the phone.

Getting one of these national retailers to sell your product, however, can be difficult. They field thousands of applicants every year and only accept a small fraction as new suppliers. Want to maximize your chances of being one of them? Here are five steps to get there.

1. Research your target channels. If you’re unfamiliar with TV shopping channels, spend some time surfing them. Get a sense of what products seem to sell well and how they are presented. These shows often have call-in sessions during which either existing owners or new purchasers of a product talk about it. This can help you to discern what kind of customers each channel attracts. Look through the vendor information (usually found on the channels’ websites) as well, to find out what types of products are accepted and rejected. For example, QVC doesn’t sell any books except cookbooks.

2. Make sure your manufacturing capacity is sufficient. TV shopping channels need to ensure that they can meet customer demand, which means that vendors must be able to produce their products in bulk. On QVC’s website, for example, the channel notes that it usually places an order for $30,000 to $35,000 of each item. You don’t need have a warehouse full of products at the time you apply, but you do need to be certain that you can ramp up production quickly if you are accepted.

3. Fill out the application. Each channel has its own process, but most applications are available on the companies’ websites. Choose the channel you most want to pitch to — and hold off on sending applications to any other channels until you hear back from the first. Most channels want exclusivity over products and may not react well to competition from another channel. Complete the application and attach photos or other materials, as requested.

4. Follow up, follow up, follow up. Due to the volume of submissions television retailers receive, along with the possibility that you somehow flubbed the submission process, there is a chance that your application might not be put in front of the eyes that need to see it. Don’t be afraid to follow up with the channel (after a reasonable period of time has passed) to inquire about your application’s status. However, don’t hound them regularly, or you may be rejected on the suspicion that you are difficult to work with.

5. If one product doesn’t fly, try another. You may feel discouraged if your first product submission is rejected, but that doesn’t mean that all of your products will be. Be on the lookout for another item that could be a good fit for a television shopping channel. Stay on top of new consumer trends — and submit again when you think you have a winner.

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