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Exclusive Q&A: Qurate focuses on livestream retail with Sune app

Brian Beitler
Brian Beitler, founder of sune & GM Live Shop Ventures LLC

The Qurate Retail-backed Sune video shopping platform sees a bright future for livestream retailing.

Chain Store Age recently sat down with Brian Beitler, founder of Sune & GM Live Shop Ventures LLC, to discuss livestream retailing. In April 2023, QVC and HSN parent Qurate Retail Group launched the beta mobile app for Sune, which provides videos and livestreams as a way for shoppers to discover products and brands. Consumers can then purchase products directly within their feed.

What are the advantages of livestream retailing?

Livestream retailing allows the story of products and brands to be told more fully to consumers, particularly for brands or products that may be less understood or emerging in the marketplace.

Seeing things in static images on static product listing pages is helpful, but certainly doesn't give you an opportunity to express the brand in its best and fullest form. Video has always been the most immersive medium. Bringing that form of media more to the retail experience can only benefit consumer understanding, appreciation and love of brands and products. 

Finally, if we think about the role of video plays today, particularly social short form video, it is the primary vehicle by which young consumers discover almost everything new. 

How did Qurate Retail Group launch your livestream program?

We see ourselves as the originator of live video shopping and launched our digital livestream program on QVC back in November 2021. We had been active in social commerce far before that, but most recently in March 2023 we launched a next generation platform dedicated to small screen short form video selling.

Right now, we're in beta mode with the goal of 2023 really being to learn and understand the best approaches for helping consumers to fall in love with this new format of shopping in the U.S. 

Livestream has been growing rapidly overseas, particularly in Asia, but Asia is a different market than the U.S.; so figuring out what it looks like in the U.S. to be successful has been our focus, along with building the platform, the infrastructure and bringing the right kind of brands and products together.

How does the Sune business model work?

Sune is its own entity as part of Qurate Retail Group, built to help seek a different audience in a different format on a different platform. While we are affiliated with QVC and Qurate, we note in the app and at checkout as a customer makes a purchase that Sune is its own brand.

We have our own targeted segment of customers we like to call ‘Gen Zennials’ – 18-to-34-year-olds. Older Gen Z and younger millennial consumers who are really immersed right now in video as their primary format of discovery.

Can you share any metrics from Sune’s performance?

Sune has been excited about the number of brands that we have been able to engage with. We have 400-plus brands that have already signed contracts and are on the platform with us, and we have thousands of products available. 

We are very pleased with what we're seeing in terms of consumer adoption and download at this stage of our development. We are excited about the trajectory that we're on and ready to continue to build momentum as we head into 2024.

What do you see as the broader livestream retail trends for 2024 and beyond?

Players of all kinds will continue to experiment and explore and implement video commerce as a part of their as a part of their retail experience. Livestream will become a mainstream platform for shopping in the future.

Some of this growth will come in the form of brands building their own experiences to shop on, such as Amazon Inspire and TikTok Shop. Others will come in the form of partnerships where brands partner with other players; we've seen a couple of those partnerships from largescale brands with various livestream or video-based shopping platforms in the U.S. 

You will see more expansion in social and the leverage of social shopping across all brands as they look for the ability to reach customers on their small screens over the course of the next 12 to 18 months.

Livestream commerce will probably become worth at least $100 billion or more down the road. All consumers of all ages will look for more video like experiences in making their buying decisions. 

For that reason, I think you will  continue to see all of this experimentation from all the players in in the landscape of retail, not dissimilar to where we were 20 years ago with e-commerce.

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