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Fry, Inc.

Not long ago, “e-commerce” was a tarnished word. But thanks to Fry, Inc. it’s looking downright shiny again.

Not long ago, “e-commerce” was a tarnished word. But thanks to Fry, Inc., which has offices in Chicago, it’s looking downright shiny again. Founder David Fry talks about chocolate, acceleration, and becoming legendary.

How did Fry get started?

Fry, Inc. began in 1994 as a division of a large printing firm, Fry Communications. The original intent was to bring the capabilities of the newest media at the time, such as CD-ROMs, to customers. These plans coincided with very early enthusiasm for the Internet. We were working with Godiva Chocolatier at that time to explore how they could use new types of media to help them sell their products. We noticed that people who loved chocolate and Godiva in particular, were actively communicating this passion via discussion groups on the Internet. We began to talk about the possibility of selling to these people through the Web. That started Fry’s experience with online retailing.

What got you personally interested in doing this work?

I have been using the Internet since I started college in 1982. Of course there was no World Wide Web back then but I used e-mail to communicate with friends and colleagues. As I went through school and started working towards my PhD, technology developed to offer online newsgroups, real-time chat, FTP sites, gopher services, and, eventually, the Web. By the early 1990s I had been personally steeped in this culture for over 10 years and was excited at the prospect of bringing it to a larger world than the relatively small academic audience that currently exploited it. The Internet is one of those transformational technologies that you wonder how you ever lived without.

Why do you feel there’s a need for what you provide?

As use of the Internet for commerce has accelerated, both customers’ requirements and the process of fulfilling them has grown enormously complex. Fry’s expertise in transactional e-commerce is well established, having evolved during our more than 10 years in business serving some of the world’s most recognized and trafficked Web sites. We understand the process from beginning to end – from the importance of design and user experience, through ensuring systems are effectively integrated behind the scenes, to meeting the intense performance demands of sites with our managed services offerings. Our core expertise is in retail but today many other industries such as manufacturing and financial services are using the Internet more effectively to build relationships with their customers.

What makes your company unique?

Fry brings an unusual combination of creative, technical, and operational talents to its projects. Fry does “everything it takes” to design, build, and manage transactional Web sites. We work with our customers to design a site that speaks specifically to their audience, one that communicates their brand message in a clear and effective fashion. We also do the heavy lifting to build a technically excellent application that integrates with our customers’ legacy infrastructure that performs well under heavy loads, and provides the rigorous security needed to provide ensure the user’s privacy.

What do you like best about what you do?

I like to see the impact our industry is having on people’s lives across the country. This year, 40 million people will purchase holiday gifts online, something that was unheard of ten years ago. This period in history will be remembered for decades in the future and I’m glad we could be part of it.

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