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Blast From the Dot-Bomb Past

Remember same-day delivery services that failed spectacularly in the dot-com crash? They're baaaack. But they say this time is different.
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Same-day delivery services (think Webvan and Kozmo) crashed and burned in 2001. But a new crop of start-ups claims this time is different. 

Why It Might Work

Today's GPS-enabled smartphones can track couriers and goods much more efficiently. More important, fleets of vehicles and professional drivers are no longer required. Start-ups such as Deliv and Postmates crowdsource that work to a pool of vetted part-time drivers.

"That's the disruption," says Daphne Carmeli, CEO of Deliv, which is running a pilot in San Francisco and Chicago in which retailers foot the delivery bill. Postmates, in San Francisco, Seattle, and New York City, charges consumers $6.99 and up for within-the-hour delivery.

Why It Could Flop... Again

The competition is stiff: Amazon, Walmart, eBay, and Google all either are in the game already or will be soon. To survive, start-ups must deliver reliably (no easy task) at a price consumers will accept--$5 to $10, says Kris Bjorson, a retail expert at consulting firm Jones Lang LaSalle.

IMAGE: Jamie Lockey/Flickr
From the July/August 2013 issue of Inc. magazine

MINDA ZETLIN | Columnist | Co-author, 'The Geek Gap'

Minda Zetlin is a business technology writer and speaker, co-author of The Geek Gap, and former president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Like this post? Sign up here for a once-a-week email and you'll never miss her columns.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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