WEST CHESTER, Pa. (MainStreet) -- Getting on QVC is probably the dream of every entrepreneur with an item or gadget to sell. But while the payoff could be millions, the experience of selling through the popular TV retailer requires a lot of preparation and money.
Wendy Krepak, president and founder of Card Cubby, says she got lucky; in 2009 QVC came searching for her product -- a mini-organizer for credit cards, reward cards, gift cards and other things -- at a trade show. (As a result, she's an evangelist for the power of trade shows and other such events for small businesses looking to get noticed.)
Celebrating 25 years, QVC, now a subsidiary of Liberty Interactive Group, claims more than 98 million U.S. households and roughly 195 million households worldwide are in its reach through cable and satellite.
Krepak says her product fit with other QVC offerings because its target market was women and Card Cubby is "easily demonstrable," and there's evidence that's true: Card Cubby has been on QVC 15 times since July 2009, selling approximately $200,000 worth of wares, she says. (The company is approaching $900,000 in total sales this year.) But first came the preparation that ensured the product met QVC's specifications.
Here she offers her experience on getting on and selling through the popular shopping channel.
How did you apply for QVC?
Krepak: When I introduced Card Cubby in 2009, I put an ad in Real Simple magazine ... in addition to getting a lot of orders, an outside QVC rep contacted me. At that point I had never shopped on QVC. She took it to QVC, and while she was in the middle of conversation with them, I attended the Atlanta Gift Show where a buyer from QVC noticed the product as well. When I got home I got back in touch with my rep and we proceeded to get on QVC.
Once you decided to go ahead with QVC, what preparation was needed before the first Card Cubby was even sold?
Krepak: QVC has a minimum retail order. When you start with them they usually want to order about $50,000 worth of retail value. They will give you a purchase order and ask how long it takes for you to manufacture and get them the product. You wouldn't want to place your order with your manufacturer until you have the signed purchase order in your hand.
When you get the product, you have to package it in the manner they tell you. So by the time QVC gets it in their warehouse all they have to do is pick up the box, slap on the mailing label and out it goes. You have to do all the preparation.
People need to realize that there are costs associated to all this, so when they're agreeing to their pricing with QVC they need to make sure they're accounting all these other costs, particularly when you're a new company.