Provide Commerce keeps the perishable goods and gift markets fresh. The majority of the e-tailer's sales are generated by ProFlowers.com and ProPlants.com, which ship flowers, plants, and wreaths directly from growers to residential and corporate clients. The Internet florist also offers chocolate, popcorn, and fruit and cheese baskets. Provide Commerce's Cherry Moon Farms and Sharis Berries virtual shops offer hand-picked fruits, hand-dipped sweets, and wine. In addition to gourmet perishables, the company operates RedEnvelope (acquired in 2008) and Personal Creations (acquired in 2010), which sell upscale and personalized gifts and jewelry. Founded in 1998, Provide Commerce is owned Liberty Interactive.
Provide Commerce has agreed to be acquired by flower industry heavyweight FTD Companies for $420 million in stock and cash. FTD will acquire the company's floral and gifting businesses, including ProFlowers, Shari's Berries, and Personal Creations. RedEnvelope is not part of the deal, which is expected to close by the end of 2014. Post-sale, Liberty Interactive will retain a 35% stake in the company. Liberty Interactive (formerly Liberty Media) paid $477 million to acquire Provide Commerce in February 2006 as part of its plan to assemble a stable of niche e-commerce companies.
Provide Commerce's business in highly seasonal due largely to purchases of flowers and other gifts for Valentine's Day and Mother's Day. Indeed, in 2013 the online marketplace rang up about 65% of its sales in the first half of the year.
While parent Liberty Interactive does not break out sales for Provide Commerce, it does report results for its E-Commerce business segment (which includes Provide Commerce, Backcountry, Bodybuilding.com, and Celebrate.com). In 2013 e-commerce sales increased 12%, adding an additional $182 million in sales versus 2012, as a result of increased marketing efforts that drove additional traffic, greater conversion, broader inventory, and a lift in sales from discounted pricing of seasonal inventory. However, the non-perishable businesses within Provide Commerce (RedEnvelope and Personal Creations) posted sales declined in 2013 versus 2012. Also, profits are being squeezed by increased spending in paid search as a percentage of revenue, increased promotional activity and product discounts to move seasonal inventory.
Originally a provider of flowers, which continues to be its most significant market, Provide Commerce has expanded its offering to include premium fruits and confections, and personalized gifts and jewelry. The online marketer added Personal Creations, a catalog and online seller of personalized gifts, to its e-commerce stable of brands in 2010 for about $33 million. Previously, it acquired upscale Internet gift seller RedEnvelope in June 2008, after it outbid Creative Catalogs at a bankruptcy court-run auction for the ailing firm. (Amid plummeting sales, RedEnvelope filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2008.) The winning total bid was not disclosed, but was estimated to be about $6.1 million. Also, the company acquired Shari's Berries International, a supplier of hand-dipped strawberries, cakes, cookies, truffles, and other goodies, including gift baskets, in September 2006.
Provide Commerce negotiates exclusivity deals with about 80% of its growers. It relies on three suppliers for approximately 70% of its cut floral products.
Mergers and Acquisitions
In November 2013, Provide Commerce acquired mobile gifting start-up company Sincerely, Inc. to gain entry to the fast-growing market for mobile commerce. Sincerely Inc. (launched in 2011) began as a provider of mobile photo postcard and greeting card apps, and later expanded into a mobile gifting service. The purchase provides a platform for mobile sales of Provide Commerce's stable of e-commerce brands.
Provide Commerce was founded in 1998 by Jared Schutz Polis, son of SPS Studios founders Stephen Schutz and Susan Polis Schutz.