If 2017 brought us the so-called retail apocalypse, 2018 appears poised to be the year that retail brands return from the grave. Already at the end of last year we saw hhgregg come back under new ownership. Now, in a similar fashion, Circuit City will again enter the retail ring in 2018.
In a statement released this week, the company announced that the iconic brand will relaunch at CES 2018 with a renewed focus on creating a “dynamic, social-focused ecommerce site,” as well as new and “innovative” physical retail store concepts.
Under new ownership, Circuit City is expected to announce a partnership with IBM Watson commerce, which it said “incorporates AI and other new retail technologies to its web platform.” The company said it considered other options, but ultimately selected IBM because of its “aligned vision with AI” and how the technology can help transform the way customers shop for electronics. Circuit City said the IBM web commerce platform will enable it to expand its offerings for a personalized shopping experience and enhance the product discovery journey.
The new Circuit City leadership team is headed by CEO Ronny Shmoel, a veteran in the retail and ecommerce space.
Additional details will be announced during a press conference on Monday afternoon in Las Vegas. Dealerscope will be on hand at the event and will be sure to provide additional details as they become available.
Circuit City, founded as the Wards Company by Samuel Wurtzel in 1949, help to pioneer the electronics superstore concept in the 1970s. The company’s demise in the early 2000s was due to strong competition from newer big-box electronics chains (i.e. Best Buy), and failed efforts to modernize its sales floor and employee pay structure—Circuit City, for years, paid salespeople based on commission.
The company ultimately went bankrupt and shuttered in 2009. Shortly after, Systemax, Inc.—which also operated the CompUSA and TigerDirect sites—successfully won the rights to the Circuit City brand name, trademarks, and ecommerce website for around $14 million. It relaunched the site a few months after all stores had closed, and continued operating it until the end of 2012 when it opted to consolidate Circuit City and CompUSA into its TigerDirect brand.
In January 2016, Shmoel acquired the Circuit City brand from Systemax. It’s official relaunch was first reported to happen in June 2016, but was ultimately suspended as the company wanted to take their time to “get it right.” A little more than a year and a half later, the time appears to be right.