Kozmo downed in Web "minimart" expansion

As earlier reported, the online convenience-goods retailer quietly expands its offerings to include items such as cold medicine, diapers and toothpaste, causing sporadic outages.

Online convenience-goods retailer Kozmo.com quietly expanded its offerings to include items such as cold medicine, diapers and toothpaste, causing sporadic outages today.

The company--which delivers movies and CDs, among other goods, to customers' doors within an hour--rolled out a new category of offerings called Minimart at 2 p.m. today, according to chief executive Joseph Park.

The launch didn't go off without hitches, however. Between 5 p.m and 7 p.m. the Web site experienced several brief outages caused by the implementation of the new features, Kozmo representatives said.

Kozmo's expansion, as first reported by CNET News.com, is only the beginning in a line of several new categories for the company, which will launch in the first quarter of 2000, according to Park. Future offerings will include alcoholic beverages and cigarettes, he said.

"These new categories essentially make Kozmo the 7-11 of the Net," Park said. "If you have a cold or the flu, you can get relief delivered to your door in under an hour."

The Minimart category includes baby care products, film, eye and oral items, as well as men's and women's grooming products.

Earlier in the day, the site was down for a planned outage, and visitors logging on to Kozmo were greeted by a message that said inventory would be completed by 10 a.m.

Analysts are closely watching companies such as Kozmo and UrbanFetch.com that have ventured into the competitive same-day delivery business. Their methods--which include scattering legions of delivery men across cities in vans, motor scooters and bicycles--could help alleviate one of e-commerce's biggest handicaps: delivering goods quickly.

Kozmo operates in cities such as New York, Seattle and San Francisco and plans to serve 30 cities by the end of the year.

The privately held financiers include Flatiron Partners, Oak Investment Partners, Chase Capital Partners, Hambrecht & Quist, Thomas Weisel Partners and New York City Investment fund, among others.

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