Circuit City Readying For Retail Re-Entry

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Ronny Shmoel

Circuit City is on track for a marketplace comeback in 2017 following a postponed start last spring, CEO Ronny Shmoel told TWICE.

The iconic retail tech brand was originally set to launch in June with a transactional website and the first of hundreds of showrooms. The ambitious go-to-market strategy also called for thousands of licensed kiosks and a host of Circuit City-branded accessories.

But the New York-based management team grew dissatisfied with the blueprint, Shmoel said, and rather than rush to market decided to return to the drawing board.

Gone now is a plan to franchise out chunks of its store base, as is former top lieutenant Albert Liniado, one-time president of New York A/V and IT dealer DataVision.

Also altered is the showroom concept, which has evolved from 2,000 to 4,000-square-foot micro stores, to 6,000 to 9,000-square-foot showrooms, to 20,000-square-foot boxes.

Shmoel, who bought the Circuit City brand, domain and associated trademarks one year ago from Systemax, said his company has since hired brand and generational consultants, and invested in market research and focus groups, to better target millennials, Gen-Xers and Gen-Yers with appropriate products and categories.

Also being studied are certain retail technologies that will provide a more engaging, personalized and highly curated shopping experience across multiple distribution channels, he said.

See also: Retailers To Circuit City: Good Luck

“The technology available for retailers is incredible these days, but most is underutilized,” Shmoel maintained. “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.”

Vendors, the CEO said, have been supportive and patient as Circuit refines its game plan. “They understand that we are entering retail at a time [when] brick-and-mortar doesn’t look like your traditional big-box retailer,” he noted. “We are not looking to be just another reseller for brands, but rather build an equal partnership where we can enjoy the growth together, while offering our customers the best shopping experience possible.”

Shmoel wouldn’t share his brand roster, citing instances of non-disclosure agreements, but said he has signed “many top-tier vendors as well as up-and-coming brands.” The fledging business has already purchased inventory direct from some manufacturers, he explained, and is working with a number of distributors to round out the assortment. The company also has a private-label program in the works.

No date has been announced for a store opening, and the original launch market of Dallas may be reconsidered. “We’re identifying other major markets beyond Dallas,” Shmoel said, including California and possibly the New York metro area.

See also: Circuit City’s Imminent Return Begs The Question: What Do You Miss?

Meanwhile, the company is preparing for its second CES foray in January, when it plans to share more details with the trade.

The end result, he said, will be a customer-centric, omni-channel shopping experience that aims to disrupt the way CE e-tail and retail operate today. (For a peek at what a revived Circuit City may entail, check out its virtual storefront on Amazon.)

Once the No. 1 big-box tech chain, Circuit City succumbed to a rapidly changing marketplace in 2008 and misfired in its second incarnation as an online-only sister site to Systemax’s TigerDirect. But Shmoel believes by taking his time and getting it right, the third time will be the charm.

“I have a specific vision for my company,” he said, “and that vision is to be a trusted brand wherever people shop, regardless of the platform.”

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