Broadcast live 24/7 to deliver amazement to customers
Shop Channel—Japan's No 1 television shopping channel
TV shopping provides viewers with the fun of shopping from the comfort of their own home. Jupiter Shop Channel, in which Sumitomo Corporation has a stake, is Japan's number one TV shopping company. Its television channel, "Shop Channel," broadcasts live 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, offering a wide variety of items including jewelry and fashion goods, beauty and weight-loss products, fitness products, home and interior products, home appliances, food, and more. With its proven ability to consistently zone in on the appealing features of the products it sells, Shop Channel has attracted a large audience.
When Shop Channel was launched in 1996 it was the first channel in Japan devoted to TV shopping. At first, the viewing audience was limited but the number of households tuning in has increased every year in tandem with wider distribution by cable TV stations and the spread of CS/BS digital broadcasting across the country. Sales, too, have steadily increased in line with these developments. At present, 29.50 million households—more than half of the total 50 million domestic TV viewing households—have access to Shop Channel and the company boasts the top sales in the Japanese TV shopping industry. (As of April 2018)
Broadcast live non-stop 24/7
Why do so many viewers tune in to Shop Channel?
One reason is the live nature of the broadcasts. Shop Channel spends 30 to 60 minutes introducing each item and brand, detailing its features and background without relying on a prepared script. Over the course of a single program, the inventory status and telephone congestion are monitored in real time and presented to viewers in an accurate and timely manner. In addition, live calls from customers who have bought the product are connected to the studio, allowing for actual feedback on air. This interactive, real-time environment, which only live-to-air programming can provide, is one of the key attractions of the broadcasts.
Also, the call center that takes viewer orders plays an essential role from behind the scenes. Shop Channel operates its own call centers in Tokyo (250 seats) and Osaka (110 seats). Together, these operators receive approximately 72,000 calls a day on average. In particular, call centers are flooded with call-in orders during the channel's prime-time hours, starting at midnight, when it presents that day's most recommended products. Appropriate arrangements have been made, however, to ensure that shoppers don't have to wait too long when placing an order at this late hour. Such arrangements include allowing those who have made a prior purchase to settle the transaction faster using their purchase histories, which are readily accessible to the operator. This and other customer-friendly systems have led to high customer satisfaction.
The TV shopping company has also built and operates a large-scale logistics center in partnership with Sumitomo Global Logistics. Its flexible logistics functions enable next-day shipping for most orders.
Integrated management across purchasing, broadcasting, order receipt and delivery
Needless to say, the stars of the show on Shop Channel are the products themselves. Over a week, about 500 items are introduced, with roughly half of them making their first appearance. These items are all located and purchased from all over Japan and around the world by in-house buyers. To use the fashion category as an example of how purchasing decisions are made, only items that buyers were convinced of in terms of trends, fabrics and other factors are procured. Other items are specially developed for Shop Channel in collaboration with famous manufacturers. Shop Channel's buyers are so uncompromising in their selection of items that it sometimes takes a year of negotiations before purchase orders are made.
Another major player is the program planning that ensures the best and most useful features of products are highlighted. Who is the target customer? Among the 24 hours a day, 365 days a year of on-air time available, which is the best slot to broadcast the program? What angle or approach should be taken to best convey the special features of the product? To get the right answers to these questions, buyers, planners, directors and other staff engage in a series of elaborate discussions over many months.
As can be seen from the above, Shop Channel integrates every process from product development, purchasing and broadcasting to call center and logistics operations. Thanks to this integrated management system, it can respond keenly to consumer trends as well as offer services that anticipate future needs.
Developing omni-channel platform and overseas business for further growth
Although Shop Channel's accessibility coverage for Japanese households has exceeded 50%, the bulk of orders are placed by a limited number of viewers. In order to achieve further growth and win a new customer base, the company has launched a number of initiatives, including building a unique omni-channel platform.
By providing a new shopping platform allows viewers to seek out items from anywhere, at any time, via any device they choose, Shop Channel will be able to expand purchase points for greater customer convenience and thereby enhance the shopping experience.
At the same time, the company is expanding its business to rapidly growing Asia. In February 2013, it joined with a local partner in Thailand and Sumitomo Corporation to set up a new TV shopping venture. Utilizing the 24-hour live broadcasting know-how it has developed thus far, this new company began broadcasting in November of that year.
Another of Shop Channel's goals is to become a program that viewers actively seek out, rather than one that they watch after passively coming across it. To do this, it will further improve the program, enhance its services and work to increase customer satisfaction even more by leveraging its integrated high-quality functions, ranging from product development and purchasing to call center to logistics operations.
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