A once-giant consumer electronics retailer that declared bankruptcy a decade ago is making a return, albeit small at first.
Circuit City has announced plans to relaunch its website Feb. 15 and has a plan to open kiosks and stores within stores, CEO Ronny Schmoel announces at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Eventually it will relaunch full stores. The plan for this has been in the works for two years.SAN RAFAEL, CA – JUNE 19: A customer walks through a nearly empty parking lot outside of a Circuit City store June 19, 2008 in San Rafael, California. Circuit City reported a first quarter net loss of $164.8 million, or $1 a share comapered to $54.6 million, or 33 cents a share one year ago. The retail consumer elctronics chain also announced that it has suspended its dividend in an effort to save money. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
New, Personalized Online Shopping Experience
Schmoel promised a new, more personalized online shopping experience that melds e-commerce, social networking and solution selling to “allow the products to find the consumers” as they explore the site’s products. It will offer in-home installations with purchases.
Website features will include “videos, virtual vignettes, search-by-photo, augmented reality and real-time tech support via video chat,” according to Twice.com
CNBC.com reported Circuit City hired Skinny IT to complete home installations and brought on Taylored Group to design its upgraded, experiential showrooms. The goal is for the showrooms to mirror the new website.
The website technology will be driven by IBM Watson’s artificial intelligence platform. With this technology, the website can learn what a customer likes based on searches and surveys, and then become the shopper’s personal assistant.
“The technology available for retailers is incredible these days, but most is underutilized,” Shmoel told Twice in 2016. “Not only does the technology need to work, but I expect it to integrate into one complete system. We don’t want to use technology just because it’s neat or different, but rather because it makes sense for our customers.”Getty Images | Mario Tama
‘We Are Taking Our Time To Get This Right’
Circuit City had once been the No. 1 tech products chain. It filed for bankruptcy in 2008, and store closures began that same year.
The company tried running a strictly online business back in 2009, after another company, Systemax paid $14 million for Circuit City’s assets, according to Fortune.com. However, that plan also fell through and Systemax decided to sell the the Circuit City brand to Shmoel in 2015.Getty Images | Tim Boyle
A few months later, word started to spread the the electronics retailer would open stores by late 2016. NBC News reported that the first location was slated to open in the spring in Dallas, Texas.
But, that plan fell through, as well. This caused some people to wonder if Circuit City would ever reopen.
Schmoel said the process has taken a couple of years because Circuit City wants to make sure everything was set for success when they re-open for business.
“We could have easily leased a location, put some product in and opened the doors for business,” Schmoel said. “Instead, we are taking our time to get this right.”
Written by Scripps National Desk.
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