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The 'Domino's of Gifting': Why Edible’s Customer-Centric NextGen Store Is the Must-Invest Franchise of 2024

As the gifting franchise commemorates its 25th anniversary and further integrates into the digital world, franchisees can take part in a new gold rush of modern, data-driven retail with a household name.

By Luca Piacentini1851 Franchise Managing Editor
SPONSOREDUpdated 11:11AM 01/05/24

Ediblean innovative retail brand and modern gifting destination with an online ecommerce hub and nearly 1,000 locally owned brick-and-mortar locations globally, has long been known for its celebratory fruit bouquets. But in a move to establish a reputation akin to “the Domino’s of gifting”, they have a new core product: technology

Following the pandemic, Edible is looking to expand beyond the confines of traditional brick-and-mortar with its "NextGen" store, focusing on enhancing the in-store experience and expanding product offerings with a revamped business model. With 80% of business coming from Edible’s robust e-commerce platform, the NextGen store will offer franchisees a business model that combines the best of both worlds, leveraging the steady stream of online sales with an enhanced in-store experience. The prototype—merging data analytics and advanced ordering within a compact, efficient space—streamlines operations in the digital retail landscape. The global corporate gifting market has grown exponentially since the start of the pandemic and is currently expected to swell above $300 billion within the next two years. 

“It's hard to believe how far we've come, particularly for someone who grew up in the ‘70s and ‘80s,” said Edible founder and CEO Tariq Farid. “The transition from rotary phones to the current technological advancements and witnessing the manifestation of dreams I had regarding what technology could achieve within my lifetime has been nothing short of phenomenal. It’s not just about personal accomplishments but also what Edible has achieved as a business. Reflecting on the past 25 years, particularly this year, has been quite incredible.”

With the launch of the NextGen store, Edible aims to sign 25 to 30 units over the next year, in addition to opening 5 to 10 locations. For entrepreneurs, joining Edible in 2023 is an invitation to engage in a tech-forward, consumer-centric business model enriched with a data-driven approach to marketing and sales. 

From Humble Beginnings to a Global Sensation: The American Dream of Edible's Founder

Farid, a Pakistani immigrant, founded his first business in West Haven, Connecticut, at the tender age of 17 years old, when an entrepreneurial flair sparked during his adolescent years working at McDonald's. His flower shop, which he started with just a $5,000 loan, quickly found success. Two years in, Farid had expanded the business to include four storefronts. 

“When I opened my first shop, I used to do $70 a day in sales,” said Farid. “I would go to high school, come home, drop my mom off and then come to the shop. At the end of the day, I would have made about $1,000 a week, which was awe-inspiring for a 17-year-old. My rent was $700 a month, and at the end of it, I was pretty happy. Two years went by, and my shop was doing a million dollars in sales.”

In 1999, Farid recognized an untapped market opportunity that combined Americans' rising preference for fresh fruits, an increasing demand in the specialty food market and a society that was ready to splurge on gifts. This insight led Farid to conceive of a unique business idea that would come to define his entrepreneurial legacy: Edible Arrangements. The brand would offer a collection of fresh fruit creations—with a design inspired by his flower shop’s arrangements—that were perfect for gifting and celebrating life’s milestones.

By 2001, the business began franchising, and by 2009, it expanded internationally. By the 2010s, Edible Arrangements had become a household name in the U.S. and abroad, with customers everywhere familiar with the brand’s notorious fruit bouquets. Today, the company has nearly 1,000 storefronts, offering revenue streams through retail, e-commerce, delivery and catering. 

In a strategic rebranding that launched in October 2023, the company shortened its name to "Edible," signifying a broader focus beyond fruit bouquets. Expanding into an "experiences company," Edible began expanding its offerings in 2019 and, most recently, launched dessert boards, cakes, fresh flowers and plants.

“We're a 25-year-old brand, so our stores were getting old, our brand was getting old,” said Farid. “We had to refresh.”

How Edible Emerged as a Rare Winner Through the Pandemic 

Cut to the start of 2020, when businesses everywhere were bracing for the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Edible was no exception.

“For the first six weeks, we thought: it's game over — we relied heavily on in-person traffic and indoor shopping malls,” said Farid. “We were a company based on experiences.”

But Edible turned out to be one of the rare businesses that not only survived the pandemic but thrived. “Our sales went up 40% as loved ones started sending each other more gifts because they couldn’t see each other in person,” said Farid. “For the next year and a half, our sales went crazy.”

Edible enjoyed a 45% increase in sales in 2020 and also set a record for the number of stores hitting $1 million in sales that same year — more than 40 reached the mark. 

Of course, like everyone else, Edible still had to pivot. Franchisees began selling boxes of whole fruit, for example, allowing their businesses to remain open and operating as essential businesses. Most notable, though, was Edible’s shift towards off-premises sales, with a digital transformation that leveraged a robust online ordering platform and third-party delivery partnerships to reach more customers. 

“We went from being a franchise company to an e-commerce company in the span of a few months,” said Farid. “We're a totally different brand in mindset and operation now. It just goes to show that the downturns will make you better. They will make you stronger.”

Today, the strength of Edible’s e-commerce platform can not be overstated — 80% of stores’ orders still come through online. The brand’s robust delivery network (including recent partnerships with DoorDash,Uber Direct and Uber Eats) has the ability to reach 80% of U.S. households within an hour. 

All of this led to a few “miracle years,” Farid says, for the Edible brand. In 2023, sales at Edible continue to rise, reaching $500 million. But, with so much time spent adapting to the changes in the marketplace, the company has paused its focus on franchise growth since 2020. Now, the team is ready to change that.

Inside Edible’s Next Generation of Gifting and Self-Indulgence

Following the lessons of the past few years, Edible is currently in the midst of launching a fully revamped store prototype, moving away from a conventional brick-and-mortar image to a modern tech-driven retail experience. Through a blend of data analytics, state-of-the-art ordering and refined processes, Edible has crafted a winning formula in the digital retail landscape. 

The NextGen prototype will thrive with a smaller, non-traditional footprint. This not only cuts down on overhead costs for franchisees, but also ensures more streamlined and simplified day-to-day operations.

“Post-pandemic, we've built a great franchise brand where quality of life and work-life balance is always important,” said Farid. “As opposed to your typical restaurant franchise, our average store is open only about 60 hours a week. Franchisees can be home by 5 or 6 pm every night. It's important to spend time with the family and learn this balance. My grandfather did a great job teaching me this. He would start his day with me in the mornings, and when I came home from school, he would always be there. Post-pandemic, I think I became a little bit of a grandfather myself.”

Somia Farid Silber—Tariq’s eldest daughter who joined the team full time in 2016, and was appointed President in 2021 to usher in this new era of Edible— says technology is set to play a pivotal role in reshaping the brand. Particularly, data. The myriad of data collected over the years, offering a 360-view into the lives of the customers, presents a goldmine for franchisees. Armed with this data, Edible aims to reset consumer perception, positioning the brand as a go-to choice for celebrating big holidays and milestones and everyday moments. 

“We want to be community gathering spots for gifting, treating yourself and catering,” said Silber. “Part of our new store prototype, customers can enjoy a personalized gifting experience, drink a coffee, or order a smoothie or cold pressed juice, all in one place. It is the kind of one-stop shop no other competitors are offering.”

While this may be a new generation, Silber says one thing remains true: Edible is an iconic brand, and franchisees will feel the impact of that. Every aspect of the business, including technology, equipment, supplies, patents and trademarks is proprietary and vigorously protected. They can invest in the brand knowing that very few competitors have the same kind of household-name reputation in the category.

Why Now Is the Time to Invest in an Edible Franchise

By joining Edible in 2023, franchisees are not just signing on for financial returns — they are embarking on a journey to create success and be part of a brand that values the essence of human interactions, even in a digital-dominated marketplace. 

“Franchisees are no different than myself when I started a long time ago,” said Farid. “You take a risk, and you have this big dream of what you're going to build. There's a brand you want to sign on with, but a lot of times you’re not signing on for the money. You’re signing on for the success you can create for yourself. The money is the byproduct.”

The total investment necessary to begin operation of an Edible Franchise ranges from $240,000 to $531,000. This includes between $53,400 and $98,800 that must be paid to the franchisor or affiliate. 

According to the brand’s 2023 FDD, average gross sales for Edible businesses open for more than three years came in at $596,020, with average gross sales for the seven open for at least two years at $560,170 and the average gross sales for the five open for at least one year at $516,862.

Edible’s vision as it heads into the future is about evolving with intention, attracting new audiences and nurturing a community of franchisees ready to thrive in the modern retail landscape. The ideal character trait of an Edible franchisee, Farid says, is simple and timeless: They love human connection and celebrations. 

“In our business, customers return to you for both joyous and sad occasions,” said Farid. “Customers share parts of their lives with you and form a lasting connection. It’s not just Edible, it's ‘Nick’s Edible.’ Once you can figure that out as a locally-owned franchisee, that is when the magic happens. My mom always stressed the importance of prioritizing the customer over monetary gains. She had a unique way of interacting with customers, asking about their wife's or girlfriend's favorite color and adding a personal touch to their purchases with a colored ribbon. People don't remember the cost — they remember how you made them feel.”

Aimed at a marketplace often inundated with transient trends, Edible’s enduring relationship with customers and its vision geared towards modern retailing and customer engagement presents a compelling proposition for individuals aspiring to invest in a franchise with a solid footing and a forward-looking ethos.

“Our brand has weathered various storms over the past 25 years,” said Farid. “Even during economic downturns, our sales remain steady because celebrations will always continue. We're now pivoting our brand cautiously and methodically, ensuring we maintain the essence that has made us successful so far. The aim is to revamp our stores and embrace the exciting journey that lies ahead.”

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