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Systemax’s Fiorentino Talks Brand Strategy

Systemax’s acquisition of Circuit City’s brand and Internet business last May gave the IT supplier and direct marketer a total of three retail franchises, including TigerDirect and CompUSA.

The job of juggling those brands falls to Gilbert Fiorentino, chief executive of Systemax’s technology products group, whose operations encompass catalogs, Web sites and storefronts. While there are no immediate plans to open new Circuit City locations, Fiorentino recently confirmed that the company is “looking at real estate,” and intends to grow its brick-and-mortar business from its current base of 29 CompUSA-branded stores. (See TWICE, June 15, p. 6.)

TWICE recently asked Fiorentino to expound on Systemax’s retail brand strategy. Here’s what he had to say:

TWICE:Will Systemax continue to maintain three separate retail brands?

Fiorentino: Yes. However, TigerDirect and Circuit City are Web-only properties at this time in the United States. In Canada, TigerDirect is also the brand name on our brick-and-mortar retail stores.

TWICE:How will you differentiate the retail brands from one another?

Fiorentino: Each will address its specific customer type and have different specials [and offers].

TWICE:Which consumer groups are you trying to reach with each?

Fiorentino: Generally speaking, each brand has a customer base made up of different demographic and lifestyle characteristics and unique buying preferences and behaviors.

TigerDirect has a young, predominantly male customer base that is highly in tune with technology, is comfortable doing PC upgrades and system builds, and does most of their buying online.

CompUSA caters to a slightly different demographic that seeks more advice on technology purchases and shops more in retail stores as well as online.

As the Circuit City acquisition is still fairly new, we are currently studying the characteristics of this customer base and developing strategies to best serve them.

TWICE:There seems to be a good deal of overlap in the assortments. Will that change?

Fiorentino: In terms of the assortment, at our Web properties and other online retailers, generally speaking, we all sell the same major brands. Why should we offer less to any of our customers?

TWICE:Is pricing and policy comparable across all three Web sites? Will that change?

Fiorentino: No, pricing is not necessarily the same across all three sites in all instances. However, pricing on and offline with CompUSA is the same. Also, as some manufacturing partners target the customers of one brand or another, prices will vary between brands.