Three TV channels grabbed the idea early and set apart a good slice of their telecast time for the new concept:
United Television (UTV)
Similarly, four tele-shopping networks entered the arena as pioneers.
Dee’s Home Shopping (Dee’s)
Tele-shopping Network (TSN)
Asian Sky Shop (ASS)
UTS was a division of UTV; ASS a division of Zee TV; Dee’s and TSN were independent networks.
Dee’s Home Shopping:
Dee’s was the first network to start tele-shopping/home shopping in India. It started with an hour-long home shopping program on DD’s metro channel in Delhi. Dee’s network was later expanded to Mumbai, Calcutta and Chennai. Dee’s was also offering the program to cable operators who would air it at varied times to suit the convenience of their subscribers. As the non-metro urban markets were also becoming a big market for many products, Dee’s did not want to ignore them and hence hooked the cable networks.
Dee’s strategy had two main components: (1) fill the program with infomercials (information commercials), and (2) use discounts to hook the tele-shoppers. Dee’s covered a wide basket of product categories ranging from office products to fashion wear, home appliances to car accessories, furniture to beauty care products, and groceries to air tickets. Dee’s worked out tie-ups with well-known manufacturers, such as Hindustan Lever, Cadbury’s, Bata and Britannia for telecasting their products for a stipulated period.
Tele-shopping Network (TSN) was the second to enter. TSN’s programs were aired on DD, Sun, ATN and local cable networks. The duration was between 35 and 60 minutes on each channel, totaling four-and-half hours of telecast a day, seven days a week. The programs were aired from Delhi. TSN Marketed several new products. TSN’s experience was that shoppers responded very well to novel products like Roti Chef. Once established, TSN tried out new ideas. The TSN-Kotak Mahindra Financial Shoppe was conceptualized as a one-stop finance shop to be marketed on the TSN network.
United Tele-shopping (UTS):
United Television, (UTV) set up a separate company for its home shopping venture, United Tele-shopping (UTS). Its target was the middle/upper middle class housewives across the country. It started telecasting its program on DD’s National Network every afternoon and also on late evenings on some days.
Tele-shopping will Expand in India in the Coming Years:
Tele-shopping has the potential to make a mark in India in the coming years, though for the present, it is limited to the cities and the up-market sections on consumers. As already mentioned, two major engines are driving India into electronic shopping:
Consumers’ redefinition of shopping convenience and technology’s impact on consumer shopping behavior: As more and more segments of Indian consumers redefine their shopping convenience and as technology enables quicker adaptation to consumer’s shopping behavior, as in the advanced countries, tele-shopping is bound to expand in India. As the consumers in the country become more and more time-pressured, they would demand access to shopping from home.
Requisites of Successful Tele-shopping:
Like all other forms of direct marketing, tele-shopping too needs to be targeted tightly in order to be effective. The products hawked and the consumers targeted must match closely. There has also to be a proper matching of the program time with the target consumers. The networks must recognize that certain categories of products blend particularly well for tele-shopping. These include: Household appliances, jewelry, toys, cosmetics, watches, office stationery, auto accessories, leather products like briefcases and wallets and financial products like car finance and fixed deposits schemes. Products that are novel and unique like roti maker seem to be especially suited for tele-shopping.
The networks can also tie up with makers of good unbranded products who lack marketing capability. They can brand such products and sell them through their tele-shopping program. TSN is a good example of this effort.
Delivering products on time is an important task in tele-shopping. Selection of the right kind of people as the hosts and hostesses is also important. The hosts and hostesses can make or break a tele-shopping program. It makes sense to select as hosts, persons who are not celebrities, but are people whose personality goes well with the products they sell. When one uses a celebrity as a host, the focus shifts to the celebrity rather than the product aired. A pleasant, viewer-friendly person will do for most products.
Control of costs is another major task. The costs for tele-shopping network include: Costs of channel time, studio charges, manpower costs, cost of equipment, such as a tele switching system for receiving orders, computers and office automation items, costs of transportation, and warehousing and courier charges for delivery of the products. The networks must control all these costs.