If you’ve ever seen a bouquet of flowers that looked good enough to eat, chances are they might just have been.
South Australian entrepreneur Kelly Jamieson established Edible Blooms in 2005. Described as providing a “floral-like experience you can eat,” Edible Blooms provides bouquets of chocolate or fruit flowers for any occasion. Recently, Jamieson’s company has unlocked new growth thanks to the efficient use of technology in the business.
From little things, big things bloom
Jamieson created Edible Blooms in 2005, with her sister Abbey joining shortly after as a business partner. Prior to the company’s inception, Jamieson was working in marketing and business development and Abbey was a schoolteacher.
“Both of us had quite varied backgrounds before we started an online retail business,” Kelly told SmartCompany.
“My experience is more the marketing and business development side and Abbey’s teaching side has been fantastic as far as staff training and development goes.”
The first Edible Blooms store was based in Brisbane, with the head office in South Australia. Eleven years later, the company has offices in all major Australian cities plus a store in Auckland, and over 50 employees.
The majority of these employees create the bouquets, which are made fresh and sent out daily. And while the company does not disclose its revenue figures, Jamieson says Edible Blooms completes as many as 1000 orders per day in its busiest periods.
Although the decadent bouquets adorned with pink love-heart roses might seem perfect for your Valentine, Christmas and Mothers Day are the store’s craziest times, according to Jamieson.
“We’re gearing up for that period which is exciting, it always gets everyone buzzing, it’s a lot of fun,” she says.
The company also sells its bouquets to larger businesses, with corporate sales accounting for the majority of business in the Christmas period.
As a small business still, Jamieson says she prefers to outsource functions such as IT, finance and human resources. “You tend to get great advice when you do that,” she says.
Strapped from the start
Edible Blooms was bootstrapped from its inception, as Jamieson didn’t have the money to purchase expensive retail in Brisbane.
Being a food-based product, the business also could not be operated from home initially, instead requiring commercial premises. Desperate to provide an efficient service for customers, Jamieson made the choice to place her offices near her suppliers.
This practice has continued over the business’ years of operation, with the Melbourne store located in the Port Melbourne industrial estate.
“If you can’t be close to your customers, be close to your suppliers and work on your delivery systems,” Jamieson says.
This approach has worked well for Edible Blooms, which has expanding as a company-owned group of stores, giving Jamieson control over both product quality and employees.
The Sydney-based Edible Blooms store has outgrown itself twice but has stayed at the city’s edge to be both cost effective and close to suppliers.
Edible Blooms’ business model is built on speed, with the business boasting a three-hour delivery time within major Australian cities and the next business day for other locations.
“It’s a ‘want it now’ culture – you’ve forgotten mum’s birthday, its our anniversary – we can get things there really quickly for them,” she says.
Early cloud migration was a “brave move”
Edible Blooms moved to a cloud-based IT system in 2008, a time where cloud computing was still on shaky ground. Jamieson labels this a “brave move” but credits it for her company’s early success.
“We were working off a lot of manual systems,” she says.
“[Moving to the cloud] put a lot of technology behind our internal work processes and gave us that visibility in seeing what each of our locations were doing.”
One year later, in 2009, Edible Blooms won a Telstra Business Award and Jamieson believes being an early adopter of the cloud played a big role in that achievement.
She also believes keeping things close to home can be beneficial for smaller businesses, after operating her business through an American cloud service provider between 2008 and 2011.
“If I wanted to get updates on our website, I had to deal with South American software developers between the hours of midnight and four AM,” she laughs.
When attending a software conference in 2011, Jamieson met the creator of Australian cloud service Neto, which offered a backend that could plug-in to the software the company already used.
“He kept saying yes to all the questions I kept asking him, if his website would do xyz for me, and I thought ‘alright, great’,” Jamieson says.
The Australian service was much more cost and time effective, letting Jamieson balance her business and home life more efficiently.
Keeping things close to home is more than just a figure of speech for Jamieson. She now operates her business entirely out of the comfort of her farm in Port Elliot, South Australia.
As a mum, Kelly says she finds this invaluable, allowing her to juggle work and parenting at once. Her office at home makes her “highly productive,” she says.
Kelly chooses to come into the city office a few days a week, with her and Abbey maintaining an in-person visiting program across the company’s offices.
“You can be productive remotely but there’s certain things where it’s important to have that face-to-face aspect from a teamwork perspective,” she says.
The storefront at the forefront
Edible Blooms has a bustling online store. Yes, bustling – customers can see the bustle occur with a live feed of purchases from around the country.
This gives customers increased buyer confidence, according to Jamieson.
“[They think] ‘Wow, John in Surrey Hills has just placed an order, I can too’,” she says.
Peace of mind for customers purchasing online is a priority for Jamieson and Edible Blooms. The store is registered as Google Trusted and accepts all forms of secure payment such as PayPal.
Edible Blooms’ staff are all trained to offer a consistent standard across the country, keeping what you see online the same as what arrives to your door.
“People need to have confidence when they land on your page that you are who you say you are, what you’re promising to deliver is actually going to arrive,” Jamieson says.
Edible Blooms is also prominent on social media, with the company having active Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts. Jamieson believes the company’s presence is important in keeping communication lines open with consumers but it is still early days yet.
Likes and views on social media platforms are not translating into purchases yet, but with the ever-increasing mobile growth, Jamieson is hopeful.
Talking to Jamieson, it’s clear she’s not one to sit around and smell the chocolate roses.
Edible Blooms will be aiming to expand into overseas markets in the coming years, after taking tentative steps over the Tasman in 2008. Locally, the Melbourne store will be looking for larger premises this year also.
“It’s really exciting, we’re ready to take that next step”, Jamieson says.