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Re-Delivery Services Pose Problems For E-Retail

As online retailers search for ways to make deliveries as convenient as possible for customers, third-party services are trying to fill the gap -- with potentially problematic results, according to ECommerceBytes.

Case in point: Doorman, a package-delivery scheduling startup that "allows you to get your online purchases (or anything else) delivered to your door until midnight," according to the company. The San Francisco-based company provides customers with a shipping address to use with online retailers, then alerts the customer when the package has arrived, and customers tell Doorman when (between 6 p.m. and midnight, seven days a week) to deliver the package.

Pricing ranges from $3.99 per package with two-hour delivery windows up to unlimited packages for $29 per month with one-hour delivery windows -- all on top of a first-package-free trial.

But shoppers already have greater flexibility than in the past. Among shippers, that includes UPS's My Choice, in which the delivery company sends advance delivery notifications that let customers reroute packages to a different address or reschedule deliveries for a future date before delivery. Doorman and its direct competitors are also up against in-store pickup and delivery lockers.

Third-party "re-deliverers" also pose the problem that online merchants can't confirm customer delivery time, and it's likely to be impossible to determine who's responsible for a package that's damaged -- or simply gets lost -- when yet another third-party is inserted in the delivery process.

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