Circuit City was once the top electronics retailer in the country, but its failure to foresee just how quickly e-commerce rivals like Amazon would swallow its share of that market paved the road to bankruptcy for Circuit City a decade ago.
Now, the onetime Fortune 500 fixture, which filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2008, is laying out its plans for a comeback, complete with a revamped website and a modest brick-and-mortar strategy. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Circuit City CEO Ronny Shmoel announced the company’s plan to relaunch its e-commerce site on Feb. 15. Last week, the company teased the plans for “a dynamic, social-focused e-commerce site” as well as “various concepts of innovative retail stores.”
Consumer electronics website Twice reported on Shmoel’s Monday announcement in Las Vegas, noting that the reconfigured Circuit City website will include augmented reality and video chat with tech support and a virtual personal shopping assistant supported through a partnership with IBM Watson’s artificial intelligence platform. Circuit City is also working with the company Skinny IT to provide home installations of products bought online.
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Shmoel also announced plans to expand into opening retail kiosks and stores-within-stores (and, eventually, its own large showrooms). The company closed its last brick-and-mortar location in 2009.
Circuit City tried operating solely online in 2009, after Systemax paid $14 million for the bankrupt company’s assets. However, that attempt also fell flat and Systemax stopped using the Circuit City brand name five years ago before selling the brand to Shmoel in 2015. While Shmoel has been preparing to relaunch the Circuit City brand for nearly two years, the company obviously faces some major obstacles, considering that its e-commerce rivals—from Amazon to Target and Walmart—have only gotten bigger in the years since its bankruptcy.