In Time for Black Friday, Circuit City is Back and Aiming to Truly Differentiate
It’s been a bit since we’ve been able to provide an update on the comeback of the once-dominant consumer electronics retailer Circuit City. But, timed perfectly with the looming Black Friday holiday shopping weekend, the retailer was in touch with Dealerscope to provide an exclusive and critical update on their operations. In short, they’re ready and open for business—online.
Under new ownership, led by CEO Ronny Shmoel, the iconic brand had something of a coming-back-out party at CES 2018 in January. There, Shmoel rolled out an impressive plan for the retailer’s comeback march—one that was focused on creating a viable, sustainable, and unique ecommerce experience. Once the company re-established itself online, Shmoel said at the time, then they’d be able to consider a move back into the physical retail space in the form of Circuit City Express stores, and a potential store-within-a-store model. But, to be sure, the ecommerce experience was, and needed to be, the main priority for the brand. Initially, Circuit City had hoped to be up and running within a few weeks of their CES press conference, but ultimately had to delay the launch for untold technical difficulties.
Fast forward to September, and the retailer rolled out a soft launch of their ecommerce website. And now, in what’s arguable the biggest shopping week on the calendar, Circuit City is rearing and ready to go.
The retailer’s website is fully up and running with clear Black Friday promotions already in place, and a full catalog of products that you’d expect to find at a consumer electronics retailer—everything from appliances, to cameras, smartphones, drones and toys, smart home tech, audio and video equipment, wearables, and more.
But, just like this isn’t a rehash of some old brand with the same tired retail strategy, this also isn’t just another CE retailer website with a basic product selection promising to offer the best prices around. Rather, Shmoel and company have followed through on many of the promises that were touted back at their January press conference—features like their Shop By Room section on the site, personalized customer support, and device set up services, among other features.
“Consumer's enjoy shopping by a retailer they are familiar with and trust. But I believe price alone is not enough to satisfy the needs of consumers today,” Shmoel said in an email to Dealerscope. “We are trying to add more value to our customers by offering them added services. We are specialists in the products we carry, and we love hearing from customers. It’s a way to be more engaging and offer a more personalized experience. We feel by offering a wide selection of brands and products, along with competitive pricing, great deals throughout our site and added services, we cater and appeal to multiple demographics.”
And one of the key features that the company is really leaning on with the new web presence is the Shop By Room section of the website. Back in January, when Shmoel walked us through the online shopping experience, he explained his company’s perception of how consumers actually shop online today. They’re not always just hunting for deals or looking for a specific product. Rather, they browse websites, look for trends, and what’s hot now. And that’s where Circuit City is aiming to keep their finger on the pulse of what’s happening not only in tech, but in design and other areas of culture to better understand what their shoppers are looking for.
Shop By Room does that by creating visual representations of a space—be it the kitchen, a home office, the bedroom, a nursery, or even your theoretical home theater room. From there, the consumer can hand pick the products they want to see in those various rooms, see how they appear in the room together, and even have the option to purchase all of those products at once. This approach could come off as gimmicky, but it really does provide a holistic approach to retailing today that you won’t find anywhere else—and it works. It works to see everything in front of you, and it helps you as a shopper consider different product or solutions that otherwise might not have been on your mind. And, of course, that helps the retailer increase their average ticket price at the same time.
The personal touch extends into the device setup and support programs the company has rolled out with the new web presence. Shmoel explained that the customer’s relationship with Circuit City extends well beyond the actual purchase. Prior to making a purchase, the consumer can get expert advice and guidance in making their decision by Circuit City’s in-house team of experts. And then with Device Setup, the consumer can get one-on-one appointments with a Circuit City team member to video chat their way through initial setup of a product.
Between the Shop By Room feature and the device setup and other support services, Circuit City is trying its damndest to provide a more personal touch for the end user. They’re trying to do a lot, which Shmoel admitted can be a challenge at times. But the payoff in the end could prove to be very much worth it.
“We test, we learn, and we listen to consumers’ needs on how they would like their shopping experience to go,” he said. “It’s our job to figure out how to deliver this experience, without changing how an ecommerce site functions. Sometimes offering to to much to consumers may not be the best thing. The bottom line is we’re always trying to perfect that experience, and we’re never going to stop innovating. Our goal is to deliver on what consumers expect from Circuit City.”
Certainly, this is just the beginning for the retailer. We expect to hear more throughout the holiday shopping season, in the run-up to CES, and perhaps even at the show.