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Shoes on Sale: Q&A With Mike George

CEO Mike George is taking QVC's biggest charitable event into the next generation of social media.

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To grow Shoes on Sale—and QVC in general—CEO Mike George is focusing on technology

To grow Shoes on Sale—and QVC in general—CEO Mike George is focusing on technology.

Photo By Courtesy Photo

QVC Inc. CEO Mike George is aiming to take the company’s biggest charitable event into the next generation of social media.

“Technology and television have evolved. So this year, [FFANY Shoes on Sale] has become a multimedia event,” he said.

Unlike previous years, QVC plans to nationally broadcast its shoe sale two days after the gala event, airing it on Friday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Although the full sale won’t be shown live, George said he hopes the two-day delay will allow QVC to create substantial buzz for the charity through Facebook, Twitter and its website.

“We’ve been experimenting with the format for a couple of years,” he said. “We wanted to use a format that would engage the community and build excitement for the event by spreading it over two days.”

On the night of the broadcast, QVC will air a webcast segment on QVC.com, hosted by breast cancer survivor Nancy Hornback. The online portion will offer consumers a selection of products not available on the television broadcast.

Within QVC, technology has taken on a much bigger role, George said. In addition, the company is focused on global expansion. QVC Italy bowed this month, adding 18 million homes to its audience, which already includes the U.S., U.K., Germany and Japan. George said he hopes to announce a sixth international marketplace for the station by early next year.

FN: After all these years, why is it still important for QVC to be part of Shoes on Sale?
MG:
For us, it’s our longest-running charitable endeavor. We’ve been part of Shoes on Sale for 17 years. Breast cancer affects so many of our customers, and to have an opportunity to give back to them in this way is meaningful for us.

FN: How much has technology changed Shoes on Sale?
MG:
It’s not an overstatement to say that it’s revolutionized what we do. Every year it seems to get bigger and better. After the broadcast, we’ll be airing a webcast on our site. Besides TV, we also want to feed the online medium. We’ll also be utilizing Facebook and Twitter throughout the night.

FN: How else has QVC adapted to the recent explosion of social media?
MG:
We’ve been playing around with different mobile applications for [a few] years. Customer interest had been fairly modest until we launched our first iPhone app about a year ago. Response to that has been enormous. Since then we’ve debuted apps for the Android and for the Blackberry platforms, and in a few weeks we’ll be releasing an iPad app. In the next few months, we’ll launch a couple of specialized apps: for example, one for the Isaac Mizrahi brand and one for our beauty category. The iPad is especially exciting for us because we now have a device that is both mobile and [allows the consumer] to view HD-quality video on a readable screen size.

FN: Is the economy still keeping people from spending?
MG:
It’s hard for us to get a great read on the economy. But to that point, sales have been fairly consistent. We’re trying not to be dependent on the state of the economy and just focus on our long-term strategy.

FN: What’s new with QVC in terms of footwear?
MG:
There have been a couple of recent launches that have been very successful. In the past few months, we introduced B. Makowsky footwear. Just last month, we debuted Kathy Van Zeeland footwear, which is off to a tremendous start. In the fourth quarter, we’re launching Tignanello footwear. We’re very optimistic about that. We’re also building our shoe business with Isaac Mizrahi. He launched last year, but we certainly see an expansion of the Isaac Mizrahi footwear business. And we’ve had great success in the toning classification, both with Skechers and Ryka. We definitely see footwear as a growth category for us going forward.