Somia Farid Silber rescued Edible from a massive decline in 2019, thanks to her leadership and ability. With her help, the brand recovered and started 2020 on the upswing, reaching record-setting numbers for its online revenue, even during the pandemic.
As Edibles’ VP of eCommerce, Somia Farid Silber helped the brand notch its best sales months in history. The numbers rose by 38% year over year in April, then it climbed again to 55% in May. For Mothers’ Day, the company even fulfilled over 700,000 orders.
Edible president and COO Cheikh Mboup had nothing but raves about Somia Farid Silber’s work and contributions to the company. She has shown an excellent ability to manage the brand’s largest sector, eCommerce, and she has also showed a deep understanding of the “value of franchising.” Through her work, she has focused much of her efforts to ensure that every Edible Brands franchisee is successful as well.
Somia Farid Silber’s expertise and dedication are invaluable elements of Edible’s continued growth in the digital economy. Currently, Edible Arrangements earns revenues of upwards of $500 million from its 1,000+ stores worldwide. The company specializes in fresh fruit arrangements, which has been the foundational concept of the brand since its founding in 1986.
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Somia Farid Silber: Thanks for having me! Edible is actually my family business. My dad opened the first store on the side of his flower shop when I was six, so I’ve literally grown up with the brand and been a part of it since day one. I think I started taking phone orders and working front-of-house when I was 11 or 12, mostly just for fun and because I loved telling customers about our offerings. During college, I interned with various Edible Brands teams when I was home for the summer. After I graduated, I spent some time working at a digital media agency in Boston, then transitioned back to Connecticut to work at Edible headquarters as a full-time employee. Since then, I’ve held various roles in the company and have gotten exposure to many areas of the business. My passion really lies with technology and just over a year ago, I was named vice president of our eCommerce business, which I have been leading since.
Jerome Knyszewski: What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
Somia Farid Silber: My dad, Tariq Farid, grew up in Pakistan and immigrated to the United States when he was 12 years old. Fruit was pretty much the standard snack and dessert when he was growing up, and same for me when I was a kid. There was always fresh fruit available in the house. Tariq had seen fruit arrangement concepts in the hospitality industry. Being a florist, he knew all about design and started experimenting with fruit arrangements. One day, he came home with the first edible arrangement, put it on the dining table, and my grandma said, “honey, this is going to be big!” Thus, Edible Arrangements was born! We started out with one store in East Haven, Connecticut, in 1999 and opened the first franchised location in Waltham, Massachusetts, in 2001. I’ve since watched firsthand as the organization has grown to more than 1,000 locations around the world.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Somia Farid Silber: It’s not necessarily the funniest, but it is the most noteworthy and influential on my decision making as an eCommerce executive. In franchising — really in any business — it’s very easy to make decisions based on opinions and what a few people say. It could be something as simple as homepage creative or the color of a button. What I learned very quickly is that yes, sometimes there is a gut feeling that is necessary in the decision-making process, but what’s most important is data. Data-driven decisions are so important because they allow individuals, teams and brands to be consistent, to be confident in the work they put out, and to promote continuous growth.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a few examples of tools or software that you think can dramatically empower emerging eCommerce brands to be more effective and more successful?
Somia Farid Silber: Since data is key, having a great analytics tool is necessary to understand web performance. Google Analytics is a free and easy-to-use tool that will provide insight into factors like traffic by channel, conversion rates, product performance, most-visited pages, and so much more. Also, like I mentioned already, investing in SEO early is very important to build domain authority with various search engines. There are tools like Moz and SEMRush that can help with this when you’re starting out.
Jerome Knyszewski: As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies an eCommerce business should use to increase conversion rates?
Somia Farid Silber: Great question! First, the checkout flow is one of the most critical parts of the user experience. Require as little information and as few clicks as possible from the customer for them to complete the purchase. Attention-grabbing headlines and CTAs on your homepage are also necessary because the goal is to have the customer see something that they want to click on and explore right away. Offer multiple payment methods — everything from credit card to PayPal and Apple Pay — so that there are ample options for all types of customers. Lastly, use data from tools like Google Analytics to merchandise your products according to what’s selling, but also provide a mix of price points and options if possible. Essentially, make it easy for all types of customers to find what they’re looking for and to quickly make their purchases.
Jerome Knyszewski: Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that an eCommerce business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
Somia Farid Silber: Inject personality into the brand and create a stellar post-purchase experience. It goes way beyond getting the sale. Once you have the sale, think about how this new customer can become a repeat purchaser. Provide updates on their order, think about the packaging they’ll receive their products in and have an awesome customer service team who is there to take care of every customer and every order.
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a very successful e-commerce business? Please share a story or an example for each.
Somia Farid Silber:
- The brand should have a core purpose and passion. At Edible, we are all about providing a “wow-worthy” experience and celebrating what’s good in life. There should always be a reason why customers want to shop with brands, and it’s important to know what that is in order to effectively communicate to them what you’re all about.
- Have a customer-first mindset. Everything starts and ends with the customer. Rather than making decisions based on what’s best for the company, think about how to bring the most value to customers. At Edible, we got rid of our “next-day and beyond” delivery fee sometime in March when the pandemic hit, and we have continued offering next-day delivery at no additional cost ever since. Basically, if you order a gift or treat online today, it can be delivered for free tomorrow. This was a difficult decision for the brand to make because we have had a delivery fee since day one. But rather than thinking about the loss in revenue, the conversation shifted to how many more transactions and customers we would be able to gain by eliminating this fee, and we have done exactly that over the last few months!
- Find ways to build loyalty and frequency among your customers. This goes hand-in-hand with having a customer-first mindset. It’s expensive to constantly have to acquire new customers, so think about ways to retain existing customers and turn them into frequent shoppers. Edible has historically been seen as an expensive and premium brand. Over the last year, the eCommerce team has started to push “gifts under $50” messaging. The brand has always offered gifts under $50, but we never communicated this to our customers. Now, by introducing more affordable options, we’re able to talk about all the ways customers can use beyond just birthdays, anniversaries, and Mother’s Day. Since launching this new messaging, we’ve seen an increase in “Just Because” gifting, and we’ve also seen an increase in new Gen Z purchasers, which is really exciting.
- Have a strong SEO strategy. With so many product searches starting on Google, it’s necessary that brands show up on the first results page in order to gain traction. Invest in tools that will help boost SEO and turn it into a revenue-driving channel. The eCommerce team at Edible works with an agency on all things SEO — from naming our new products to creating valuable content for our blog. All of this impacts where our brand shows up on the search results page.
- Be relevant and continue to evolve based on trends and customer needs. We have all seen shopping behaviors shift so dramatically over the last few months. The beauty of eCommerce is that it’s so easy to pivot offerings and messaging. Having a strong eCommerce presence has been instrumental for our success during these challenging times. On March 13th when stay-at-home orders went into place, the Edible team was thinking about how we could keep our 1,000 store locations open and deemed as essential. We decided to pivot our services to focus on what customers needed in the early stages of the pandemic: access to fresh produce, which wasn’t readily available in grocery stores. In a matter of hours, we created a whole fruit box offering for $19.99 that was available for free delivery. This effectively launched Edible’s entry into the grocery space, creating a new product category for our brand that has since continued to grow with the introductions of boxes and bundles featuring vegetables and other snack foods. But the biggest win of all was that we were giving our customers exactly what they needed in the midst of so much uncertainty, which enhanced that customer connection we’re always looking to foster.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!