Coverage: Circuit City is planning a revival
Electronics retailer Circuit City has picked Feb. 15 as the day its website will relaunch, said CEO Ronny Shmoel at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Lauren Thomas of CNBC.com had the news:
Shmoel told his audience at CES that Circuit City’s revamped website will include virtual vignettes, search by photo, augmented reality and real-time tech support via video chat, among other experiential features, Twice said.
Circuit City also recently hired Skinny IT to provide home installations and is working with Taylored Group to design experiential showrooms that would mirror its new site, Twice added.
Under new ownership, Circuit City has been making plans to open smaller stores in the wake of filing for bankruptcy in 2008. The retailer attempted to operate strictly online after closing its last store in 2009, however those plans folded in 2012.
Shmoel acquired the brand, domain and associated trademarks for Circuit City in October 2015.
Tom Huddleston Jr. of Fortune reported that Circuit City failed in a previous online-only strategy:
Consumer electronics website Twice reported on Shmoel’s Monday announcement in Las Vegas, noting that the reconfigured Circuit City website will include augmented reality and video chat with tech support and a virtual personal shopping assistant supported through a partnership with IBM Watson’s artificial intelligence platform. Circuit City is also working with the company Skinny IT to provide home installations of products bought online.
Shmoel also announced plans to expand into opening retail kiosks and stores-within-stores (and, eventually, its own large showrooms). The company closed its last brick-and-mortar location in 2009.
Circuit City tried operating solely online in 2009, after Systemax paid $14 million for the bankrupt company’s assets. However, that attempt also fell flat and Systemax stopped using the Circuit City brand name five years ago before selling the brand to Shmoel in 2015. While Shmoel has been preparing to relaunch the Circuit City brand for nearly two years, the company obviously faces some major obstacles, considering that its e-commerce rivals—from Amazon to Target and Walmart—have only gotten bigger in the years since its bankruptcy.
Alan Wolf of Twice reported that the new Circuit City version is taking on a play-explore-learn strategy:
The goal, added a company spokesman, is to transform the traditional search-find-buy shopping model into play-explore-learn.
Shmoel described a curated product assortment that will include A/V, computers, gaming, imaging, small appliances and smart-home products by top-tier vendors like Samsung, Panasonic and Canon, as well as tier-two and tier-three brands. The new Circuit City owns some of its own inventory, which it is amassing in distribution centers around the country, and will also work with drop-ship partners, he said.
The company has also enlisted national integration service Skinny IT to provide home installations, and has contracted with Taylored Group to design experiential showrooms ranging from 8,000-10,000 square feet that would mirror the website.