The Very First Circuit City Casualty: Its Web Site

Written by Evan Schuman
January 22nd, 2009

When Circuit City last Friday (Jan. 16) announced that a judge had ordered the chain shut down and more than a billion dollars worth of inventory liquidated, it moved quickly to start going out of business sales. While the stores were open for business early the next morning (Jan. 17), the chain’s E-Commerce site was shuttered almost instantly–and shuttered it has stayed.

It’s indeed a curious move. The Web site was already live and functional. If you had that much merchandise to move and had a site as sophisticated and extensive as Circuit City’s at your disposal, couldn’t you come up with some profitable ways to use it? Maybe company execs are prepping to sell their Web servers on eBay with the headline “Hardly Used”? It’s sad enough when a chain such as Circuit City goes out of business. But when a vast E-Commerce setup is thrown away along with the Returns desk, it’s a bitter reminder of how little many in the industry respect E-Commerce.


3 Comments | Read The Very First Circuit City Casualty: Its Web Site

  1. M. Scott Foster Says:

    Curious strategy, when the sight could not only handle the liquidation of product, but could stand on it’s own as a valued property ongoing! As an example, we were already integrated with them and we have 10s of thousands of products … all 3rd Party Ship! There would have been no inventory, no risk … go figure!

    They told me today that was gone, and would just be part of the auction …

    M. Scott Foster VP Partner Development SITOA Corporation

  2. Charles MacKay Says:

    I think this also shows that liquidation is still the province of the prehistoric “belly to belly, chin to chin” old mans’ club, still adhering to the post war practices of a long-gone era.

    All they seem to understand is “hang up the banners and bang the drum” just like ‘The Music Man.’

    I feel this also exposes the seemy underbelly of the liquidation crowd, who love to salt the liquidation mine with tons of freshly brought-in crap to bait and switch the rubes who thought they were getting a deal on genuine Circuit City goods. Pulling off that repugnant stunt requires foot traffic – ecommerce customers are too discriminating.

  3. T. Mahoney Says:

    ABC News recently did a story on liquidation sales. The liquidators often mark up prices early in the liquidation process. The piece included a report on the first go around of Circuit City’s troubles when they closed some but not all stores. Prices on some of the items at the stores going out of business were actually higher that the prices at stores that were (supposed) to remain in business.

    My guess – the liquidation companies would view the web site as an uncontrollable comparison location, and shutting it down was required in their liquidation contracts.

    Remember, the objective is not to get rid of the inventory, it is to maximize profit on the disposal of the inventory.


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