Originally Posted on DallasNews.com May 16, 2015
Take a product on a home shopping channel and sell out in a matter of minutes — it’s the dream of many entrepreneurs.
Lori Greiner, who’s sold her jewelry organizers, home decor and other products on QVC since 1998, encourages other entrepreneurs to try to get on air. Greiner, who’s also an investor on the ABC program Shark Tank, has brought some of the products she’s invested in to QVC.
“The products that do the best solve a problem — there’s a need for them,” says Greiner, who’s been called the Queen of QVC.
A home shopping appearance is also a way to advertise to a large audience. QVC says it reaches nearly 100 million households in the U.S. and 300 million worldwide through broadcast, cable and satellite programming. QVC rival Home Shopping Network says it reaches 95 million U.S. households, and another competitor, Evine, reaches 88 million.
About 850 to 900 products appear on the air on QVC weekly. The company’s website, QVC.com, has tens of thousands of products, most of which have also been sold on the air.
“You get to show people within minutes what your product is, and you can sell thousands of units within minutes,” Greiner says.
How to get on
Entrepreneurs can try to sell to QVC even if they don’t have finished products. Prototypes work fine. Greiner showed buyers a prototype for her first plastic organizer for earrings in 1996. After she signed deals with Home Shopping Network and J.C. Penney Co., she began making her product.
How to find a buyer
Exhibit at trade shows such as the International Home & Housewares Show in Chicago or the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas. Another way in is to send a pitch to the company via its website or hire a salesperson known as a manufacturer’s representative. Networking also helps: Some of QVC’s current vendors have introduced other business owners to the company’s buyers, says Ken O’Brien, QVC’s senior vice president of merchandising.
Kitchen gadgets and other products that can be demonstrated play well on TV. Clothing or beauty products that a model shows off also appeal to viewers. Products like toasters that aren’t very exciting might not make it to TV, but they could still be sold on qvc.com, O’Brien says.
Market research is important, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Greiner took her earring organizer to the streets before marketing it to companies.
“I went up to people in all different types of neighborhoods,” she says. “They answered basic questions: Do you like this? What would you pay for this?”
Greiner remembers her first time on a home shopping channel, when she had 2,500 earring organizers to sell.
“I sold out in four minutes,” she says.