News Feature | January 13, 2014

HSN CIO Talks "Boundaryless Retail," Customer Experience

Source: Retail Solutions Online
Jim Roddy

By Jim Roddy, Vantiv


By Jim Roddy, Integrated Solutions For Retailers

One of the funniest lines at RetailROI’s Super Saturday event was a slip of the tongue by Greg Buzek, the president of the IHL Group and a donor trustee of the Retail Orphan Initiative. Buzek took the stage soon after HSN (Home Shopping Network) CIO Karen Etzkorn talked about omni-channel, cross-channel, and her phrase of “boundaryless retail.” Instead of saying “channel agnostic,” Buzek blurted the phrase “channel obnoxious” which resulted in laughs from the nearly 200 retail executives in attendance.

Buzek chuckled as well, but everyone in the room knows that call it what you want — at ISR we call it Retail Commerce — overcoming omni-channel integration challenges to provide a superior customer experience is serious business in our industry. 

Etzkorn said HSN is driving an interactive experience between TV, tablets, mobile devices, and the desktop. The retailer has seen significant growth in online and mobile sales. Etzkorn said mobility is now 12 percent of HSN’s overall business, a 57 percent increase vs. a year ago. Additionally, nearly a quarter of the mobile customers are new to HSN. 

Etzkorn outlined four areas HSN focuses on to create a superior customer experience:

  1. Insight: Data analytics are the backbone.
  2. Engagement: The shopper is presented with the right information.
  3. Generosity: Provide something without asking for anything back. For example, HSN provides several free online games via the HSN Arcade.
  4. Trust: Etzkorn said this is achieved through “a consistent experience every time she shops with us.”

Innovation is the foundation of an exceptional customer experience, Etzkorn said. “Innovation is not a whiz-bang product,” she clarified. “It’s giving data to the consumer to let her know what she should buy.”

Super Saturday was held at the PwC Auditorium on Madison Avenue in New York City on Jan. 11, the day before NRF’s Big Show 2014. Nearly 200 retail analysts, technology executives, and retailers gathered for a day of industry knowledge sharing while supporting RetailROI, an industry group committed to helping orphans. For more information, go to