What sells and doesn’t sell on HSN?

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Published on: April 14, 2023

Thinking about submitting your product to HSN (Home Shopping Network)?

Read on to learn what types of products sell, how the Quality Assurance testing process works, and what types of products are prohibited on HSN.

What types of products sell on HSN?

HSN sells a diverse range of products on TV and on their ecommerce site. Their target audience is women over 35. (For more information about HSN’s target audience, check out HSN Audience Demographics

HSN main product categories

  • Apparel
  • Accessories
  • Footwear
  • Jewelry
  • Beauty
  • Home Decor
  • Home Innovations (including Health & Fitness)
  • Electronics
  • Culinary

An older version of HSN/QVC Product Pitch went into more detail:

Bakeware and Cookware Household Cleaners
Beauty Jewelry
Bed and Bath Kitchen Gadgets
Consumer Electronics Kitchen Elecrtics
Cookbooks Patio and Garden
Food Personal Care
Handbags and Luggage Pet Products
Health and Fitness Storage Solutions
Home Decor Toys
Home Improvement Women’s Apparel
Home Textiles Women’s Accessories

Looking for even more specifics? The easiest way to see all the Product Categories and Subcategories in one place is to visit the HSN.com “HSN Store Directory.” The website also highlights Diverse-Owned Brands (Black-owned and Women-owned).

Aside from product type, HSN wants products that meet certain criteria.

HSN criteria for a successful product

  • Highly demonstrable
  • Solves a problem or makes life easier
  • Appeals to a broad audience
  • Has unique features and benefits

That’s from the evergreen HSN/QVC Product Pitch page.

In the announcement for their Summer 2023 Product Search (a special event that runs in addition to the normal Product Pitch), they listed the following criteria for success:

  • Can it be demonstrated through live or produced content on our platforms?
  • Does it fill a space in our current product assortment?
  • Does it solve a problem or make life easier?
  • Does it appeal to a broad audience?
  • Is the product new, revolutionary, innovative, and unique?
  • Does the product have a great story of discovery or entrepreneurialism?

Finally, HSN/QVC Product Pitch lists a series of qualities that give products “the best opportunity for success.” Those qualities are: new, revolutionary/innovative, entrepreneurial, demonstrable, exclusive, unique, solution-oriented, great value, high quality, and relatable.

HSN Quality Assurance testing

Longtime viewers are familiar with HSN’s rigorous product evaluation process. All claims made about a product must be substantiated by laboratory testing, and all products are tested for Quality Assurance by HSN’s internal teams.

What does that mean? For example: Non-stick cookware gets the Egg Test (or, if you want to get technical, the Cookware Manufacturers Association Egg Test Method 22.2.1): “Egg must release easily from cooking surface at initial use and after 5 cleaning cycles.” Dishwasher-safe plates are run through a dishwasher 5 times. Candle “burn time” is tested and recorded 3 times. TVs are “burned” for 72 hours. And so on.

It’s not just the product and packaging that gets tested. Packed shipping boxes are subject to the “Heavyweight Drop Test,” where they’re dropped from various heights, and a “Random Vibration Test” that simulates the vibrations of a 53-foot semi-truck.

Egg Test aside, how exactly does the Quality Assurance process work? Let’s break it down.

Risk Assessment

First, HSN determines the “level of risk” of doing business with a vendor. Based on factors such as product risk and vendor performance, vendors are assigned risk levels of Low, Moderate, or High. The vendor’s Quality Assurance requirements are based on their assigned risk level.

Initial Product Evaluation

The QA testing process begins with the Initial Product Evaluation. This is performed by a Product Validation Approval Specialist (PVAS). It’s their job to make sure your product meets HSN’s specifications and quality requirements.

The PVAS will evaluate your product for the following:

1. Functionality, workmanship and safety

  • Does the product function as claimed?
  • Is the product constructed well?
  • Is it safe?
  • Will the product meet/exceed customer expectations?

2. Sample matches exactly with the Product Spec Sheet, its labeling, and all submitted documents

  • Does the sample hold up to all of the information in the QA Submission?

3. Validation of information

  • Is there substantiation for any claims made about the product?

4. Packaging

  • Will the product undergo normal shipping conditions without sustaining damage?
  • Does it meet packaging requirements (as specified in the Packaging section of the HSN Vendor manual)?

5. Regulatory and labeling compliance

  • Does the product and all its labeling comply with state and federal guidelines (FTC, FDA, CPSC, Prop 65 and EPA)?

At the end of the Initial Product Evaluation, your product will be assigned one of the following statuses:

Received: A physical product sample has been received, but the Product Spec Sheet has not been submitted by the Vendor and/or approved by the HSN Merchandising team.

Pending: QA has received a sample and a Merchandising-approved spec sheet. The evaluation is in process.

Approved: QA has evaluated the sample and found that it meets HSN standards. The product is approved to ship.

Rejected: QA has evaluated the sample and found that it does NOT meet HSN standards, and that the Vendor was unable to provide appropriate corrective action.

Legal Review: QA has evaluated the sample/reviewed documentation, there are no outstanding issues waiting to be resolved and QA has sent the Features and Benefits (FABs) onto HSN Legal for review. (Once HSN Legal has completed review of the FABs, the evaluator updates the status to Approved.)

If your product doesn’t meet the criteria, the PVAS will:

  1. Provide a report on the deficiencies.
  2. Discuss opportunities for you to correct the issues.
  3. Provide guidance on resubmitting the product, if required.

QA Submission Components

Now that we have a general idea of the process, let’s go into more detail about the QA Submission and what documents you need to prepare.

(Note: All of this information is available in the HSN Vendor Portal, and publicly available via the HSN/QVC RangeMe page.)

In most cases, your QA Submission will consist of the following components:

1. QA Sample

An example of the Final Production Version of your product as it will be delivered to HSN and/or the customer.

2. Complete Product Specification Sheets

Documents containing all the product information required. More on this below.

3. Supporting Documents

Substantiation for any claims made about your product.

4. Packaging

Product packaged and labeled as it will be delivered to HSN and/or the customer.

Product Spec Sheet

The Product Spec Sheet is the definitive source of information for your product. It includes nearly all details about a product, from the physical dimensions to clear descriptions of all the components.

The QA team uses the Spec Sheet to confirm:

  • Type and quantity of components
  • Weight
  • Physical dimensions
  • Features and benefits
  • Warranty information
  • Vendor contact information
  • Nutritional data (if applicable)
  • Material composition/ingredients
  • Country of origin
  • Shipping information

Along with other key aspects of the product.

Product Labeling and Packaging

Your product’s packaging plays a big part in the customer experience. Not only does it help ensure the product arrives in pristine condition, but the labeling on your primary packaging communicates important information to the customer.

The QA team assesses your packaging for the following:

1. Functionality 

  • Shipping integrity: Will the item arrive safely to the customer?

2. Visual elements

  • Is it a presentation that will surprise and delight the customer, and does it follow the HSN Packaging guidelines (in the Vendor manual)?
  • Does all the information on the product label match what is on the Product Spec Sheet?

3. Compliance

  • Is the product and product packaging labeled with all applicable warnings, disclaimers, and other required regulatory information?

Of course, there are different QA testing protocols for each type of product. You can find a full rundown of the testing protocols for each type of product in the HSN Vendor Portal. (The portal homepage and QA documents are all publicly available.)

On-Site Inspection

Finally, vendors may be subject to a Pre-Shipment Finished Goods Audit (PSFGA), especially new vendors and vendors with Purchase Orders greater than $10,000. The on-site inspection takes place at the factory where the goods are produced, or at an approved third-party facility.

What types of products are not allowed on HSN?

According to HSN/QVC Product Pitch guidelines, certain types of products do not present an opportunity for success and will not be considered.

HSN/QVC Prohibited Products

  • Feminine hygiene
  • Firearms
  • Fuel additives
  • Genuine furs
  • Sexual aids
  • Gambling-related products
  • CBD-related products
  • Tobacco-related products

In addition: HSN is owned by Qurate Retail Group, a retail conglomerate made up of 7 brands including HSN/QVC. Qurate’s website lists types of products that are not eligible to be sold by any of their brands. Products not included in this policy must still comply with all applicable laws.

Qurate Retail Group Prohibited Products

  • Critical use products used for lifesaving applications (e.g., CPR kits)
  • Most invasive/non-invasive self-treatment and self-diagnostic products
  • Breath-testing devices and breathalyzers
  • Tobacco, drugs, or drug paraphernalia
  • Folk medicines, snake oil remedies and unsubstantiated dietary supplements
  • Restricted chemicals and chemical products (e.g., gas mileage enhancers, glyphosate-containing herbicides)
  • Live animals, and any product which by its sale and use may cause harm, injury, or death to any live animal (e.g., traps, poisons, etc.)
  • Animal products derived from Angora goat or rabbit, bear, elephant, mammoth, mink, murmansky, rhinoceros, shark, or whale
  • Products composed of, or including ingredients derived from, fauna or flora accepted to be endangered by CITES (Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species in Wild Flora and Fauna) Appendices, or by any governing body within Qurate Retail Group business markets
  • Violent, obscene, or pornographic materials containing nudity, sexual innuendo, or the sexualization of children
  • Products containing profanity, offensive, or culturally insensitive words
  • Products promoting hatred, racism or intolerance including stereotypes on nationality, ethnicity, race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation (including costumes that refer to specific ethnic cultures, and flags or maps shown in a destructive manner or manipulated from international standards)
  • Weapons and weapon-related products
  • Covert surveillance equipment, including surveillance drones
  • High-risk recreation equipment (e.g., parachutes, bungee-jumping cords)
  • Baby crib bumpers, incline sleepers, and infant sleep positioners
  • Unauthorized copies or reproductions of artwork that violate any copyright or trademark
  • Banknotes or coins considered legal tender
  • Gambling and wagering games/devices

As you can see, it’s all pretty standard. There’s obvious “don’ts” like profanity and illegal items—plus high-risk, highly regulated, or unregulated products that could result in legal liabilities.

Still not sure if your product fits—or how to market to HSN’s target audience?

Julie Massey
Julie Massey

Julie Massey is a dynamic business development leader with a decade of experience and a consistent record of achievement in SaaS, logistics, medical device and pharmaceuticals. Julie spent eight years in healthcare sales gaining broad experience across capital equipment, medical devices, and pharmaceuticals with companies ranging from start-up to Fortune 10. She has worked with such companies as WalkMed Infusion, AmerisourceBergen and Johnson & Johnson.

Julie is a graduate of the University of Alabama, a travel and fitness enthusiast, and currently resides in Fort Lauderdale with her fiancé Ryan and their dog Moose.