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MailTribune.com
  • Local company gets in the QVC loop

    LoopRope will get its big chance on the TV network's online program for untapped products
  • LoopRope creator Jeff Dahl has relentlessly poured his company's revenue into marketing since he began selling his product three years ago.
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  • LoopRope creator Jeff Dahl has relentlessly poured his company's revenue into marketing since he began selling his product three years ago.
    Leaving no stone unturned, Dahl applied for television network QVC's Sprouts program last year — and was turned down.
    Undeterred, the Medford entrepreneur tried again three months ago, this time landing a spot for his next-generation tie-down on the network's entry-level online program for untapped products.
    Over a two-week period, LoopRope outdistanced a baby stroller equipped with an organizer for moms and a flower pot with interchangeable colors, giving his product a foothold in the global retailer's portal.
    "There are a lot of eyeballs that watch QVC, and it's difficult to get on the network," Dahl said. "The vetting process is lengthy and rigorous, but it's become a product they can possibly sell on TV, based on the votes."
    The real test is a two-week period that wraps up Father's Day weekend, when LoopRope's online appeal will be determined. QVC put in a "small" test order to evaluate the company's response to demand.
    "They want to make sure you are legitimate and that you can produce," Dahl said.
    More than 100 products have gone through the Sprouts test the past couple of years, but only five have made the QVC lineup.
    "We're hoping to be No. 6," Dahl said. "If they feel it meets their standard, whatever metric they are using, then they will give us a shot on their televised shopping channel."
    West Chester, Pa.-based QVC — standing for Quality, Value and Convenience — was founded in 1986. It had 2012 revenue of $8.5 billion, $2.9 billion of which came via e-commerce. QVC is available in 250 million homes worldwide and shipped more than 166 million products last year to customers in the U.S., United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Italy and China.
    While LoopRope sells its primary 5-foot product for $23.95 on its website, QVC is pitching the tie-down for $15.94. QVC stores its orders in warehouses and ships what it sells. It also retains the customer data.
    "They set the price, but they don't get a wholesale discount," Dahl said.
    This week LoopRope was authorized to put a link from its website to QVC's site.
    "If it's affecting my website right, I'll take it," he said. "At the end of the day, we're getting the exposure. If we get on the televised shopping, there may be some negotiation and a different package."
    After pushing sales to $706,000 last year, Dahl anticipates sales will crest $1 million in 2013, spurred by a $195,000 order from its Australian distributor.
    A conference call with a Walmart sporting-goods buyer is scheduled this week, as well.
    "I would have loved to double last year's sales to $1.4 million," he admitted. "But we have to get to where we can sell more faster first, so I will be happy to have third-year revenue of $1 million."
    Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com.
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