At the beginning of August 2013, Blucora, Inc. – previously known exclusively for their search engine services- announced that it planned to acquire Monoprice.com in a staggering $180 million deal. California-based Monoprice.com has been in the e-commerce business since 2005, selling consumer electronics accessories for networking, home theater, and gaming. They experienced a boom in popularity due to their low prices and extensive product offerings. According to the press release, the plan was for Monoprice to continue their successful independent operation- only as an expansion of Blucora’s diversifying business holdings.
Blucora revealed a strategy for deeper involvement in Monoprice’s daily operations one year later. In June of 2014, Bernard W. Luthi was appointed the President of Monoprice. Luthi comes from an extensive 20-year background in large businesses including previous roles as the COO and CMO of Rakuten.com (formerly Buy.com) and the SVP of Marketing, Merchandising, and Web Management for technology company Newegg.com. His new position will involve the management and oversight of the company’s e-commerce operations and development.
Although consumers hope the change in leadership will not affect the company’s existing prices and policies, one recent promotion has drawn suspicions. A two-day site-wide free shipping campaign created social media backlash after some eagle-eyed customers noticed the shipping came at the cost of exponentially increased prices. Coming so soon in the wake of a change in leadership, customers may begin to worry that this questionable marketing strategy is a sign of things to come.
Monoprice is far from having a monopoly in the online technology accessories market. A shift in corporate attitude may open the door for competitors like FireFold to earn the trust of customers searching for an alternative source. Also founded in 2005, FireFold offers the same low prices and sprawling product selection as Monoprice without the shift toward big-box policies. Control of the company has remained in the hands of the founder, Christopher Grouse, since inception. Due to focused leadership, FireFold is able to offer bulk warehouse pricing with a small business mindset.
Even without a high-profile corporate sponsor, FireFold has kept up with the newest technology trends and developments. They have built their own loyal following based on a reputation for quick shipping and expert customer support. While many online retailers are switching to an eccentric approach to communication, they instead offer full telephone support in addition to email, fax, and a new live chat feature. Most orders ship within one business day and many order issues are resolved within hours. Regardless of whether other e-commerce companies choose to follow Monoprice’s lead, FireFold’s stability will continue to attract customers new and old.