Goodbye Fry’s – Hello Future

Todd Gould, CEO Retail

Fry’s Electronics Will Not Be Forgotten at Loren Data. We are witnessing the end of an era as retail has changed, forever. The latest, sudden closure of Fry’s Electronics is another example of the death knell of brick-n-mortar businesses that don’t have a diverse mix of online and in-store transaction. Fry’s demise is as much about a movement of the industry to online as it is a warning to organizations which don’t continue to innovate. That is not to say Fry’s had never innovated, but the more it became a big box electronics store, the more intense the competition became.

So how do we know Fry’s was an innovator? The very first production environment for Loren Data’s ECGrid was built with components from Fry’s.  As the market changed and commercially available products from Dell and HP became more common place, stores like Fry’s began their push into being a traditional strip mall vendor of electronics and less about building solutions from components.  Fry’s isn’t the only “build it” vendor who has gone by the wayside, Dayton’s Mendelson’s is on the way out as is the electronics hobbyist’s favorite Radio Shack. The latter of which has been gone for several years, except for a handful of corporate stores globally, like the two in Costa Rica.

The biggest driver for most stores going out of business is limited online volume and dependency on in person transactions. To remain relevant, successful companies quickly pivoted to online options and “pick-up” in store orders like Target and Wal-Mart. Both companies rapidly responded to the competitive landscape lead by Amazon and the changing preferences of buyers, which was only accelerated in a COVID world.

While it is sad to see the end of an era, the world of B2B eCommerce Communications continues to be a very strong growth story. As the primary tool for brick and mortar retailer-vendor relations since the 90s, electronic transactions (orders, shipping information, invoices, inventory reports, etc.) are the driving technology for on-line sales.

One era in retail is ending, but a new one is beginning. Such goes the cycle of progress. Welcome to the future of retail.