Kozmo Nostalgia? Try LicketyShip

Remember Kozmo? It was an immediate delivery ecommerce service that launched in 1998 (ahhh….1998…sigh). They’d deliver a packet of skittles, or a new Palm Pilot, to you within an hour. After burning through $280 million in venture capital, they called it quits in early 2001. Kozmo had plenty of demand, but its cost structure just didn’t make sense: free delivery, which equaled low or negative margin sales.

Well, Robert Pazornik, CEO of new San Francisco-based LicketyShip, isn’t afraid to try the whole thing again, albeit with a significant twist. LicketyShip is now in private beta in select Bay area markets: San Jose, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Santa Clara, and Milpitas.

I first got a glimpse of LicketyShip at a young entrepreneurs event at Stanford in January. Robert told us that 30% of Amazon orders pay for overnight shipping, signaling that a lot of people are willing to pay a big premium for quick delivery.

LicketyShip aims to fulfill that demand by combining items available at local retailers (they have 20,000 items in “stock”), with an oversupply in the local courier market. When you order something at Licketyship, you pay a premium of around $20 (this varies). LicketyShip dispatches a courier to a local retailer to purchase the item, and then deliver it to you within two hours during normal business hours.

To do it right, the technology around all of this is complex and requires LicketyShip to interact directly with the inventory systems of the major retailers it partners with. Robert won’t disclose much more, saying its too important to keep their proprietary relationships and technology confidential.

I went through the purchase process and stopped just short of ordering (the company asked me to hold off until next week). There’s lots of stuff to choose from in the consumer electronics categories, and LicketyShip says other things, like books, office supplies, home improvement, medical supplies, and foodstuffs soon.

LicketyShip is not launching for a while, although you can sign up for their beta test on the home page.