December 18, 2003, 12:00 AM

Provide Commerce Inc. com launches an IPO

The San Diego-based company built a business with a system that gets fresh flowers to consumers faster. Today, it prepares for expansion by exporting its platform to other retailers and adding two new sites of its own.

 

Provide Commerce Inc. on Wednesday launched an initial public offering of 4.3 million shares of stock priced at $15 per share. The San Diego-based company, which launched in 1998 as online flower site Proflowers.com, in September changed its name to reflect its broader mission to be the leading e-commerce marketplace for the delivery of perishable products direct from the supplier to the customer.

To facilitate delivery of fresher flowers, Proflowers.com developed an ordering and delivery process that linked its online storefront with proprietary supply chain management technology, established supplier relationships and integrated with Federal Express Corp. logistical systems. The result is that consumers receive flower orders seven days sooner--read fresher--than if the flowers traveled the traditional route from producers, the company says.

Eliminating intermediaries among wholesalers, distributors and retailers also enhances margins for suppliers, says the company, which has made that a selling point in offering its systems and platform to other retailers. According to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company has contracts with two undisclosed Fortune 100 retailers and “a company that creates content and domestic merchandise for homemakers and other consumers” to use Provide Commerce’s market platform to sell products under their own brand names.

Provide Commerce continues to operate Proflowers.com, its main source of revenue. Net sales were $88.7 million for its fiscal year ended June 30. In October, the company launched premium meats site Uptownprime.com and Cherrymoonfarm.com, which sells fresh premium fruit. In anticipation of additional categories, it says it has engineered systems to support peak loads of over 50 times its current average daily volume. Its current database of customers numbers 2.2 million.

 

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