March 9, 2001, 12:00 AM

zBox readies to land on porches

zBox, which makes locked delivery boxes designed to receive e-commerce purchases, is about to move out of its test phase.

zBox, a company that makes locked delivery boxes bearing the company name and designed to receive e-commerce purchases, is about to move out of its test phase. The boxes will be ready for distribution later this month, says co-founder Tony Paikday. The company has been testing the boxes, which have unique access codes for each delivery, in 100 households in the San Francisco area since this past summer.

The rollout comes on the heels of an announced investment by Whirlpool. Neither company will say how much Whirlpool gave zBox or what it gets in return. The investment also signals the extension of a corporate alliance between the two for new product development and distribution. By leveraging Whirlpool`s distribution agreements with brick-and-mortar retailers, the zBox could be on retail shelves by summer. There are no plans for the zBox to carry any of the Whirlpool brand names yet. "There`s definitely some benefits to co-branding with Whirlpool," Paikday says.

The boxes are 2 feet by 2 feet by 2 feet and are designed to sit outside a single home or small apartment building. When an online shopper is checking out, zBox software on the shopper`s computer attaches a one-time access code to the order. The delivery person enters that code to open the zBox and leaves the package.

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