Can Circuit City come back from the dead?
When big box electronics was booming, Circuit City was one of the biggest retailers around. But the storefronts of the once-ubiquitous chain were all shuttered by the late ’00s and the brand name hasn’t even existed online since 2012. Now, after years of rumors about its impending return, Circuit City is relaunching — starting with e-commerce.
Circuit City CEO Ronny Shmoel announced in a press briefing at CES earlier this year that the retailer’s rebooted e-commerce presence would be set to launch on February 15, 2018, according to Twice. (The site was still displaying a “Coming Soon” announcement this morning.)
The company is also planning an eventual return to brick-and-mortar with kiosks, a store-within-a-store concept and eventually its own standalone showrooms. Circuit City has already contracted a company to create 8,000 to 10,000-square-foot experiential showrooms.
Mr. Shmoel purchased the Circuit City brand in October 2015, according to the Richmond Times Dispatch.
This is not the first time since then that the brand has been reportedly ready for a relaunch. In 2016, Mr. Shmoel announced both a prototype store in Dallas and an e-commerce site but, as reported in a separate Twice article, stopped short of going live in order to get the concept right.
But making a return to online and even brick-and-mortar electronics now might seem like a better proposition than it did two years ago. While big box electronics took a huge hit over the past decade, Best Buy, the last chain standing from the format’s heyday, has undergone a successful turnaround.
Best Buy had appeared to be winding down at the beginning of the decade. But thanks to moves like an increased focus on smart home solutions, services and store-within-a-store relationships with major vendors like Samsung, the chain’s brick-and-mortar business has picked up.
As of January, CNBC was reporting that Best Buy’s shares were up around 70 percent in the last 12 months. The article states that Best Buy has demonstrated that there “may still be a place for an in-store experience with electronics.”
Editor’s Note: On February 16, the day after this story ran, Twice reported that the February 15th Circuit City website launch had been delayed due to an unexpected deluge of pre-launch traffic.
- Circuit City To Relaunch Feb. 15 – Twice
- TigerDirect will swallow up CompUSA and CircuitCity brands – Digital Commerce
- Former Richmonder behind return of Circuit City brand – Richmond Times Dispatch
- Best Buy shares slip after top analyst says the retailer’s comeback against Amazon is priced in – CNBC
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Can Circuit City make a successful return from the grave to compete with the likes of Best Buy and Amazon.com? Does beginning with e-commerce and then moving to kiosks, stores-within-a-store and showrooms seem like a sound strategy towards pursuing a comeback for the retailer?