Wakozi is Kozmo For Booze

wakozi-logo.pngOne of the great flameouts of the 1990s tech boom was Kozmo, which started in Manhattan, and let you order a pint of Ben & Jerry’s online and a Kozmo bike messenger would deliver it to your door. After burning through $280 million in capital, they closed shop. Well, now New Yorkers have Wakozi. It just launched and only covers Manhattan wine shops, liquor stores, and delis. But they’ve learned from the failure of Kozmo. They don’t actually deliver anything themselves. Instead, they only list inventories of shops that make their own deliveries. Founder Rob Rizzo explains the concept:

Through our site, you can order virtually anything that you would find in a bodega, deli or wine shop and get it delivered to you in less than an hour. So if you want a bottle of Chardonnay or a six-pack late at night or if you’re partying with friends and need another bottle of Belvedere, you can now get it without leaving your apartment. We don’t hire delivery guys or stock any of our own inventory—instead we work with the stores in your neighborhood who already have all the stuff you want and can get it to you the fastest. Right now we’ve got stores in every neighborhood in Manhattan and we’ve initially knocked out what we think everyone cares about most: booze

So this is really a lead generation site for local businesses. (For another approach to tryingto reinvent the Kozmo model, see our coverage of LicketyShip). Wakozi’s site is built entirely on Adobe Flex and lets you drill down into the inventory of your local wine shop. Once it loads, the user interface is fast enough, but the developers chose a faded look for the Website that is hard to read (or is that just Flash?). And the initial loading time is pretty slow. You have to wait again when you click through to an individual store as it loads up what it has in stock. Also, the only information presented is the inventory on the shelves and the price. For wines, you can sort by region or type in search terms. But there is no other information that would help you make a purchase of a wine you’ve never heard about before, such as tasting notes. If you know what you want, this is fine. If you want to try something new, you are better off walking to your local wine store and asking for advice.

A search near my office in downtown Manhattan yielded nine participating stores. I just ordered a bottle of Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin from Gramercy Wine & Spirits about an hour ago. Let’s see if it can get here before I leave my office.

Update: My wine has arrived, exactly an hour and a half after I ordered it. I am a very happy customer, although I’d be happier if they could get the time down to under an hour. Now, I’ve got some more important research to do. (Where’s that corkscrew?)