T-Commerce: Is It Here to Stay?

Thanks to Samsung’s Smart TV and Delivery Agent’s Shop TV platform, T-commerce has just been kicked up another notch; but is it here to stay? According to prognosticators, it is – but the audience may take a bit of wooing first.

Shopping via television has been around since the 1980s, thanks to the creation of the Home Shopping Club (now the Home Shopping Network, or HSN) in 1982, followed by QVC in 1986. A few years later, late-night viewers were subjected to the industry’s first infomercials, which soon became popular enough to infiltrate prime time viewing. Now, thanks to interactive platforms that can run simultaneously through network broadcasts, T-commerce is as simple as a click of the remote.

The potentialities of T-commerce were given a trial run all the way back in 2001, when viewers of the popular sitcom “Will and Grace” were given the opportunity at the end of the show to purchase a $52 T-shirt similar to the one worn in the episode by lead actress Debra Messing. Within the next 18 hours, 3,000 people had gone online to purchase the shirt, resulting in sales of $156,000. Marketers pondered: How quickly would the shirts have sold if viewers could purchase them directly through their TVs?

T-Commerce and Shop TV

One of the biggest players in the T-commerce stakes is Delivery Agent, a company that specializes in interactive platforms for mobile- and web-based commerce. Through its proprietary interactive platform and Shop TV app, which is offered with Samsung’s line of Smart TVs, users can now shop simultaneously while watching their favorite programs. This newly-updated platform got a grand kick-off during Super Bowl XLVIII in February 2014, when viewers were invited to purchase items from the David Beckham Bodywear collection offered by retail giant H&M.

For a number of years now, retailers have used social media marketing to help tie in their products to hit TV shows. During its successful run, the mega-hit Gossip Girl, for example, became a prototype show for modern brand integration by negotiating product placement and spin-off deals with companies as diverse as Birchbox cosmetics, Coca-Cola and Verizon. Consumers bought it – but can this type of marketing be transitioned into a successful interactive TV shopping platform?

What The Numbers Say

According to research conducted by Delivery Agent, 68% of viewers are interesting in shopping via TV, while 82% indicate that they’d be interested in purchasing items tied into their favorite TV shows. With numbers like these, it’s no surprise that Delivery Agent CEO Mike Fitzsimmons has publicly predicted that 24 million US households will be T-commerce-enabled by the end of 2014.

How does this dovetail with current market statistics? According to research firm Parks Associates, more than 42 million households will purchase a Smart TV by the end of 2014, with the number going up to nearly 70 million by 2017.

In a US TV Consumer Survey conducted by analytics provider IHS, however, 73% of those surveyed said that they’re not interested in purchasing a Smart TV within the next year. On the flip side, more than 30% of the participants who knew about Smart TVs indicated that they intend to purchase one within the next 12 months. According to analysts, these numbers show that a demand for the product can be cultivated – which can then open the floodgates for interactive TV shopping.

In the meantime, American Express has already created a connected television app that’s compatible with Smart TVs, and more retailers and service providers are preparing to join the bandwagon as well. Watch ’n shop TV might be taking its time in cultivating the consumer, but there’s no denying that it promises to be the next big media marketing trend.