It’s no secret to anyone in business that one of the most dramatic changes brought about by the pandemic has been the emergence of eCommerce as an essential tool for retailers that want to thrive in a post-pandemic world.

As recently as a year or so ago, eCommerce was considered a “cool” toy by many brands or the “future” of retail, implying that the future was well down the road. These brands considered eCommerce little more than just another convenience for customers.

That changed almost overnight.

Today the internet is the new “Main Street” for millions of consumers, and eCommerce is the storefront. This is becoming more prevalent every day.

According to Digital Commerce 360, consumers spent $861 billion online with U.S. retailers in 2020, a striking 44% increase from $598 billion spent in 2019.

This spike shows a dramatic change in consumer behavior in what is a relatively short amount of time. As a result, some brands responded well to this shift while others scrambled to react.

At Edible, we were able to respond almost seamlessly, leading to what was a record-setting year in terms of sales. More importantly, however, thanks to decisions made two decades ago, we were able to quickly adjust to the “new normal.” We effectively took care of our customers — both existing and new — even at the height of the global shutdown.

Looking back now, I realize that getting Edible into the eCommerce game early not only paid off, but it set us up for future success in ways we never could have foreseen.

Early adoption

Back in 1999, like many young entrepreneurs at the time, I was fascinated by the dot-com boom. As has happened throughout history when disruptive new technologies come along, a lot of people questioned early on the potential of the internet as a tool for retail. At the time, most of the naysayers simply didn’t understand it.

Yet in my mind it was clear even then that because of the rate at which the internet, browsers and other tools were evolving, it was only a matter of time before it would become a disruptive force to traditional retail. I was eager to get in on the action.

I took what was then an unconventional step for retailers by designing our website ordering and delivery system before I even opened the doors to our first store in East Haven, Connecticut.

From day one, my bet on technology paid off. Almost immediately our website was a catalyst for business demand. At that time, the idea of placing an order on the internet was still new, and many people were skeptical about giving their credit card numbers to a computer. But still, our site generated about 30% of our orders, a significant number for the era. Most importantly, we were laying the foundation for what would become the cornerstone of a global business based around emerging technologies.

That commitment led to the eventual creation of a full development team that would become NetSolace and, later, incorporating Naranga and its expansive range of digital services into the business building tools available to our franchisees. Over time, our talented development teams developed state-of-the-art eCommerce and POS systems allowing all our franchisees to digitally connect and conduct business through the Edible cloud. By building these capabilities internally we also created a strong barrier to entry for those looking to enter our segment.

Little did we know at the time that we were perfectly positioning ourselves to become a critical resource for millions when a pandemic would sweep the world 20+ years later.

With technology comes opportunity 

Over time, eCommerce is ultimately what allowed us to rapidly grow and develop such a dynamic franchise system. As consumers became more comfortable conducting business online, our dynamic eCommerce system coupled with our ability to hand deliver Edible’s signature arrangements right to a customer’s front door created an omni-channel franchise model that allowed thousands to pursue the American Dream of business ownership.

We now have what I believe to be the ideal business model not only for the fast-paced business environment of today – as we proved during the pandemic – but more importantly, we have a business model perfectly designed for the needs and opportunities of tomorrow. We have a robust eCommerce platform that has been constantly evolving over the past two decades and continues to do so. We have dedicated franchise owners who are passionate about the communities they serve. Having franchise owners in the mix gives us a unique ability to personalize our eCommerce capabilities. We refer to it internally as the “last-minute, last-mile,” meaning that when you order a gift from, you know the person receiving and fulfilling that order is a contributing member of your local community and not someone in a mystery distribution center hours away. That means something to us. It means something to our franchise owners. It means something to their local economies.

With technology comes innovation 

Of course, when it comes to technology, standing still is not an option.

According to my daughter Somia Farid Silber, Edible’s vice president of eCommerce, “the beauty of eCommerce is that it’s so easy to pivot offerings and messages.” Not surprisingly, is vastly different today from what it was when I first launched the business. But it’s also different today than it was a month, or even a week ago.

As the perfect tool for introducing and maximizing new offerings more efficiently than ever before, the possibilities of eCommerce are endless. In many ways, we are still just scratching the surface two decades later. Just within the last year, we’ve used as the primary source for introducing an array of new product categories. We’ve also used it to test a wider range of products and price points to appeal to broader audiences than ever before.

But as much as things change and our systems evolve along with those changes, one thing always remains the same: the consumer is the driving force behind it all.

The secret to eCommerce success

More and more businesses are recognizing that eCommerce is a key to surviving and thriving in the modern marketplace. Furthermore, companies now see that the technology exists for them to incorporate it into their businesses in a way they can truly own, rather than being forced to play by the rules of 800-pound online gorillas like Amazon and Walmart.

The dynamic evolution of software and platforms is helping businesses go digital like never before. At Naranga, for example, our team has developed fully-integrated operation management software tools that allow more than 400 franchise companies to seamlessly control their brand to drive sales, improve operational efficiency and connect with their individual franchisees.

Of course, as more companies get in on this digital transformation, there’s more out there to compare. Whose website is flashiest? Whose app design is the most creative?

As proud as I am of the robust platform is today — made possible by our decades of working to perfect it — our eCommerce capabilities are ultimately just a means to an end.

At its core, eCommerce is really no different than any other type of commerce. It’s all about the consumer, and it always has been. When I first launched Edible Arrangements with what was then considered a dynamic website, I didn’t do it to show off what I could do with some fancy new technology. I did it because it was the best way to give my consumers what they wanted, which was and still is a positive yet convenient shopping experience that results in a quality product – something that WOWs them.

Consumer preferences will continue to shift, and we will continue to be at the forefront of responding to those shifts. For example, we’re already working on expanding our delivery infrastructure to include high-tech vans that can store fresh products to make delivery even faster. As our eCommerce system gets better, so too should the way we fulfill orders.

I’m proud of the eCommerce brand Edible has become, but I’m even more proud of the fact that we’ve proven our ability to innovate and adapt our technology to meet the needs of this new environment. That is the key to survival in the digital age, and I’m confident after all these years – and after the past year in particular – that we’re ready for whatever comes next.

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  • Black Lives Matter
  • Change
  • racism

As I have watched events unfold over the past few weeks in response to the murder of George Floyd and other victims of racism, the question I found myself repeatedly asking is, “what can I do personally to make a difference?”

I am not a black man and therefore cannot truly understand the experience of being black in America. I do know, however, that as a citizen of a nation founded on the idea that “all men are created equal,” I have a moral obligation to stand up against racism, injustice and intolerance.

Continue reading “Real change demands real action”

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  • Edible Arrangements
  • franchising

One of my core beliefs when it comes to business has always been that constant change is necessary to maintain a leadership position in any industry. It’s something I’ve written about in the past, and it remains a critical operating principal with all my Edible® companies.

Continue reading “Keeping a Brand Fresh Requires Constant Change”

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  • Edible Arrangements
  • podcast

Over the years I’ve found that media interviews are important and have really helped to spread the story and brand of Edible Arrangements. The interview I did with Guy Raz of “How I Built This” was a thrill.  I’m a fan of public radio and this show. I used to drive around for hours listening to Guy and always have been an admirer of his work. Today as I drive to visit a franchisee, I often tune in and listen to one of his of his podcasts.

This interview was a joyous ride for me.  Take a listen. Let me know what you think.

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  • Edible Arrangements

November is National Entrepreneurship Month and before it’s time to flip the page on the calendar, I’d like to take some time to reflect on the many great entrepreneurs that have taken the leap of business ownership with Edible Arrangements, and those who have inspired my entrepreneur journey along the way.

As I have shared many times before before, I got the entrepreneurial bug at a young age. Even though I was determined to succeed, I never imagined at the time that my single store would some day turn into a global chain with well over 1,000 locations around the world.

At times, I still find it hard to believe all that has happened, but this Thanksgiving weekend I am very thankful that it did.

As every entrepreneur knows, running a business can cause you to question yourself almost on a daily basis. The challenge is overcoming those self-doubts and continuing to move forward to build your business.

That’s why I so admire each and every one of our Edible Arrangements franchisees. I know their challenges. Regardless of their backgrounds, their experiences or even their reason for getting into business for themselves, they all share an entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for business ownership.

The growth and overall success that Edible Arrangements has enjoyed over almost two decades is due to their undeniable dedication and every day I am thankful that they share our vision and enthusiasm for the brand and have allowed us to help them pursue their goal of achieving the American Dream.

There is another group that needs to be thanked, as well.  I am forever grateful that I have always had my family and so many good mentors and business associates surrounding me as a young entrepreneur. It is reassuring to know that they are in my corner. And I know each of our successful Edible Arrangements franchisees also depend on supportive and uplifting peers that are helping them take their businesses to the next level.

As part of National Small Business month we will also celebrate Small Business Saturday this weekend. I encourage you to shop local and shop small. And, as an advocate for the small business owners in Edible Arrangements, I encourage you to make one of your purchases from an Edible Arrangements location near you. It’s the best way to show your support of their entrepreneurial journey.

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