As a guy who has worked in online advertising since Al Gore invented the Internet, I’ve witnessed quite a few dot com implosions from close up. Some really cool companies have switched their business models, gone on hiatus, or just plain declared Chapter 11.
UrbanFetch yesterday announced that it had decided to close down its consumer operation in London and New York. UF is one of those e-commerce sites where you order stuff and they dispatch delivery guys on bikes to bring it to your apartment. The business plan was a flagrant rip-off of Kozmo.com’s, but I thought that UrbanFetch did a much better job than Kozmo.
Here’s why I think this sucks:
Some days, I just don’t feel like getting out of bed. UF was perfect for those days. If I felt like playing hookey from work and staying home all day, they made it more enjoyable. UF would deliver me Playstation games, DVDs, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and a copy of The New York Times all in the same order. The goddamn service was awesome.
A friend of mine who worked for the same agency I do left recently to go work in marketing over at UF. I don’t know whether he still has a job. It would thoroughly suck if UF hired him and then had to cut him loose right away.
UrbanFetch was in talks to merge with Kozmo.com, which would have created this really massive home delivery service. The deal fell through and the two broke off talks. Now, UF wants to concentrate on its B-to-B play, which delivers stuff to businesses in New York only.
I spent a couple grand on the UF service last year alone. How in the heck does a business make buttloads of money from its consumers and still fail to make a profit? Looking around my apartment, I see a bunch of crap that they’ve brought to my place in the past year: a couple dozen Playstation and Dreamcast games, a couple dozen DVDs, a TV remote control and a bunch of other consumer electronics, a tea box and more. Not to mention all the snacks and sodas they brought…
I don’t wanna switch back to Kozmo.com. Their delivery people have been rude to me on several occasions. The UF guys were not supposed to accept tips, but the Kozmo guys are always grubbing for cash when they drop off your order.
I’m really ticked that the UF service is shutting down. Any other NYC or London UrbanFetchers who will miss this awesome service?
That’s what they get for red-lining. When asked on the air why they don’t deliver to Harlem, their spokesperson said it was because they want to focus only on where the customers are, for better service.
Does this make sense? If I ask for service and I live in Harlem does this not mean that there are customers in Harlem? I think the UF spokesman was trying to suggest that people in Harlem don’t own computers.
BTW, the on air comments were on Good Day New York (channel 5) about 9 or 10 months ago.
Well, my roommate used to work for Kozmo.com so we always used them. Also, Kozmo.com has a drop box in my office building, so it was super convenient to drop the goods off.
Still, I hate to see a business fail and messengers be put out of jobs.
In my opinion, people probably don’t mind walking to the video store or restaurant to get things when the weather is nice. New Yorkers don’t seem to be lazy, IMO. I think UF should have stuck out through the winter - I bet they would’ve had more business when the weather turns ugly.
Biggirl, I didn’t know about the not-delivering-in-Harlem. That is so lame!
Heck, I did used to work for Kozmo.com, as some of you may remember.
I knew as soon as I heard the rumors that they weren’t going to merge with UrbanRetch; too much bad blood (or can’t you tell?)
If I were still working there, I might have rejoiced at UrbanRetch’s downfall, since I’d probably have been their corporate echo, hearing about how great it would have been for Kozmo to have no competition.
However, the reason I’m not working there anymore is because I got laid off. I’m not sure just how viable the whole business model is after all. Kozmo might not be a beneficiary of UrbanRetch’s downfall after all.
I guess we’ll just have to see.
I live in a section of DC where Kozmo does not deliver. Because of this, they have been accused of “redlining” (esp. by the Washington Post, who I’ve noticed does not have any newspaper vending machines in my neighborhood). I personally would not deliver to my neighborhood as, similar to Harlem, it is fairly high-crime and does not have a large number of people with PCs. Heck, Domino’s takes serious precautions delivering a $12 pizza around here- imagine if it was someone carrying two video games and a DVD- that’s ~$120 of merch on their person.
According to a Kozmo memo on FuckedCompany.com a while back, Kozmo’s average order total needs to be $24 for them to show profitability. Hopefully there won’t be a “Kozmo goes bbye bye” thread in the near future.