Noelle Reno is betting big on home shopping for Millennials.
The entrepreneur has soft launched the Digital Shopping Channel, which lives on YouTube and uses influencers to help sell product from brands, of which there are currently about 60. That list includes House of Harlow, Liebeskind, Skinnydip London and Scotch & Soda. Men’s launches next week with the luggage brand Boldric.
Reno thinks she’s got the secret sauce that would place DSC well ahead of heritage brands in the space, such as QVC and Home Shopping Network, with shorter segments (to the tune of about a minute on average), use of bloggers and other influencers and an online streaming strategy.
“It’s a totally different audience,” Reno said. “We have the influencer, which neither of those two [companies] have in their model. Our content is much shorter and our product selection is much more high street, young [and] trend-driven.”
Most of the company’s brand partners are cooking and home. Beauty has also done well. Within the fashion category, accessories and fitness has so far been strong, said Reno.
It’s an older Millennial and some Gen Xers — in the range of 20- to 40-year-olds — that are shopping DSC, exercising some restraint when it comes to pricing but still wanting quality. Higher price points could certainly be attained in the future if the company were to offer payment plans, according to Reno. Generally, she pointed out, this is a customer that is motivated to purchase with sales and exclusives.
At the end of the day, Reno aims to tackle a long-standing challenge for brands in how one goes about generating a return on video.
The founder, who bootstrapped up until January when she raised a small round from a group of private individuals with retail backgrounds, is currently in talks with prospective distribution partners that would stream the channel on their platforms to expand DSC beyond YouTube. A deal could be announced in as little as three weeks, she said.
“What we do, which is creating video content and converting it, that’s the holy grail — if you get it right,” Reno said. “We’re on a really good path and our data’s going that way. YouTube is still a developing platform and it’s a tricky space so that’s why we’re supplementing that with more traditional types of brands [for streaming]. In order to reach the Millennial you need a three-prong approach: social, traditional and then original.”
That is, one needs social media marketing, partnerships with traditional players in the space (say, a Condé Nast or Hearst, for example) and then original content.
“YouTube was never set up as a monetization platform. Period,” Reno said.
The platform today still mainly exists as a discovery tool. People flock there to learn how to do something and the idea of shopping from it has only been more recently broached.
“Training audiences to come to YouTube to shop — that’s a challenge. With anything, when you’re changing audience behavior, it’s a tricky thing,” she said. “Then again, you have lots of people on the YouTube platform that are natural posters and sales people if you will, especially the lifestyle stars. So there’s the challenge and the opportunity.”
DSC is also in the midst of building out an app that would streamline the viewing of content and shopping process. That’s about a couple weeks away from being completed, according to Reno, who said mobile first is what the company’s being built upon.
The company’s started testing a local program, which Reno described as a more long-tail strategy in which influencers with more modest followings, perhaps around 1,000 subscribers — many of them on YouTube — can request products from DSC brands to review at home. The strategy is something the company views “as a really big part of how we’re to scale,” Reno said.
“That’s how people discover and search,” Reno said. “It’s not just about the big, megastars, but that smaller, longer tail.”