Alice Sends You The Goods, a new e-commerce site, is trying to put a dent into those weekly trips to Target or Wal-Mart.
BusinessWeek has more:

Instead of buying the goods from manufacturers, marking up the price to make a profit, and then selling them–the traditional retail model–Alice makes no money on the sale of the goods. The manufacturer sets the price, while Alice handles fulfillment and customer service, passing along those costs, which are about 35% of the selling price, to the manufacturer. Shipping is free, and the company pledges to offer low prices that are competitive with discount retailers like Wal-Mart. “On average we are at or slightly above [the prices at] big-box retailers,” says McGuire.
To get around the issue that it’s tough to make money by selling one tube of toothpaste at a time–a lesson e-commerce pioneers painfully learned–shoppers at are required to purchase at least six items before checking out. In beta testing, the average purchase on came to around $50 from 11 items. “It’s a pretty interesting idea,” says Neil Stern, senior partner at retail consultancy McMillan Doolittle, adding that Alice’s model still could be challenged by shipping bulky items like paper towels for free.

I’m not sure if that’s a sustainable business model, but packaged goods manufacturers need every avenue to keep their brands in consumers’ minds. So if Alice starts gaining traction, marketers will want in–and will salivate over a database that tracks customer purchase habits.



About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.