The long-held vision of TV shopping via remote control, rather than telephone, is closer to fruition as HSN and GoldPocket Interactive Inc. have inked a deal that will allow consumers to click for purchases later this year.
“This new application will create a completely interactive shopping experience surpassing the limitations of traditional television retail,” GoldPocket CEO Scott Newnam said. His company will supply the underlying interactive technology to make interactive TV work on set-tops already in the field.
The on-screen application will use a series of menus to allow viewers to buy what they see on TV. Customization capabilities will be the same as with phone ordering, allowing viewers to select size, color, quantity or other features.
Order confirmations will appear on the TV following each purchase.
“We’ve looked at ITV for more than five years,” HSN vice president of finance John McDevitt said, adding that the company has explored several vendors and platforms to get the right user experience.
“We are now at the tipping point for ITV,” he added. “We have the technology. We have the MSOs with an interest and desire and the digital subscriber base. Everyone is technologically ready for it.”
Any HSN viewer who is registered in the company’s system -- with name, address and credit-card information on file -- will be able to use a digital-cable or direct-broadcast satellite remote to order products.
Once a product appears on screen, a purchase “bug” will appear. Viewers can click on the bug and be taken to a new full screen where four products will appear: the current product being shown, the two previous products showcased and HSN’s special of the day.
As a viewer navigates these pages, they’ll hear the linear channel’s audio feed.
Any viewer who can handle the “up/down” and “select” buttons on the remote can choose an item and be sent to the next screen, where size, color and other ordering information is available.
Consumers would then proceed through the checkout screen, receiving an on-air confirmation once their order has been placed.
McDevitt stressed that the application is live, with real-time inventory updates. If an item is sold out, the item is removed from the interactive application.
The application itself will be hosted on HSN’s servers. Once a consumer orders a product, a small amount of information passes through the cable return path from the set-top to the headend, Newnam said.
That information is then handed off to GoldPocket’s nationwide network, which transports the information to HSN servers -- the same backbone GSN and CBS use for their GoldPocket-enabled interactive applications.
HSN plans to showcase the application at the National Show and to launch it nationally in the second half of 2005.
For more on the HSN-GoldPocket initiative, please see Matt Stump’s story on page 47 of Monday’s issue of Multichannel News.