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TigerDirect Targeting Home

MIAMI – TigerDirect, the multichannel IT and CE retailer, is dramatically broadening its assortment with an eye toward the home.

The company, a division of Long Island-based Systemax, is looking to become the retail destination for home automation, and to expand its customer base beyond tech enthusiasts and small- to medium-sized businesses by adding mattresses, furniture, home fashions and even pool supplies to the mix.

“We want to get into your home,” marketing director Steven Leeds told TWICE. “We’re really expanding our selection [as] TVs, PCs, tablets and laptops become more of a commodity.”

Recent additions include safes and memory-foam mattresses, while the online assortment has swollen to some 300,000 SKUs. Of those, 35,000 SKUs encompass bedroom, living room and dining furniture; rugs, pillows, throws, window treatments and other home décor; and pumps, cleaners, saunas, lighting and other pool supplies.

The company has also entered the luggage business, and now offers 1,000 SKUs of luggage sets, carry-ons, uprights and travel accessories.

But the key focus for TigerDirect is home automation, which the chain presents in comprehensive departments within its 23 Eastern U.S. stores. “We’re in a race to be the leader in home automation, and offer one of the largest and best-merchandised assortments,” Leeds said.

The retailer is also testing a prototype store that is built around home automation, security and connected devices. The format would help Tiger- Direct fully exploit the potential of technologies like the ZWave platform, which allows “900 unique items to connect to a phone,” he noted.

The chain is supporting those categories with its TigerTech in-home and in-store repair and installation services, and a state-of-the-art interactive display system — a legacy of disgraced retail chief Gilbert Fiorentino — that provides product information, price comparisons and data on shopping behavior. “It’s the way we combat showrooming,” Leeds said.

The changes come as the company faces declines in its core IT business and weakness within its retail operations. Sales for the TigerDirect website, catalog and North American retail stores fell 22.7 percent to $315.2 million in the fourth quarter, ended Dec. 31, and dropped 16.8 percent to $1.2 billion for the full year. CE led the declines as comp sales fell 22 percent in the fourth quarter, while computer accessory comps declined 10.3 percent, computer comps slipped 6.8 percent, and computer component comps decreased 5.5 percent.

Parent Systemax began distancing itself from the PC business last year when it dropped the CompUSA and Circuit City brands (another legacy of Fiorentino’s) and exited PC manufacturing.

Nevertheless, TigerDirect remains committed to its tech roots. In January it became one of the first major e-tailers to accept Bitcoin, the peer-to-peer digital currency, and Leeds recently returned from SXSW 2014 (South by Southwest), the annual music, film, and interactive conference and festival in Austin, Texas, in search of start-ups and product exclusives.

“Our goal is to be the first, and to get the latest and greatest,” he said. “We will continue to take care of our core customers, the tech-savvy early adopter community, but our ultimate goal is serve all customers.”