My first thought was, yet another site succumbing to the NSA. My impression was reinforced by the name, "Alice" being one of three first names (Paul, Alice, Eve) often used when discussing cryptographic scenarios.
So, sigh. Maybe there's something interesting here. But, if so, it's about ordinary business failure, not spookery.
I remember finding it via Ars Technica, who did a comparison of online grocery services: http://arstechnica.com/business/2010/03/the-new-age-of-onlin...
"Alice is not a traditional middleman reseller. It takes no markup, CEO Brian Wiegand told me. Instead, it collects a "fee" from the consumer packaged good (CPG) manufacturers--the people who mix your toothpaste and put it into tubes--for shipping products out, and it passes all the customer data it collects from people buying the products back to the companies that make them. The manufacturers set their own prices. "
Alice.com provides eCommerce and interactive marketing services exclusively to the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry. The company’s eCommerce platform allows CPG manufacturers to create branded storefronts that make it easy for the mainstream consumer to buy all of their household goods online. Co-founders Brian Wiegand and Mark McGuire have an entrepreneurial track record that includes three previous start-up successes: Bizfilings.com (sold to Wolters-Kluwer in 2001), NameProtect.com (sold to Corporation Services Corporation in 2007), and Jellyfish.com (sold to Microsoft Corporation in 2007).
And a link to google's cache of the home page:
There were a number of issues which were eclipsed by Amazons offering when they began selling the same things:
Shipping was glacially slow.
Products were packaged poorly and would often arrive with opened and broken bottles which spilled contents over your other products ordered.
The prices were not competitive with purchasing from cvs or target with discounts.
Amazon subscriptions gives you discounts.
One advantage they had at the time was you didn't have to order 6 shampoos. Amazon now does the same with their add-on service.
The only way it made sense was their initial 50% off gift cards. After that the convenience factor didn't outweigh the price, especially compared to Amazons offering in the space shortly after.
Otherwise they had a great site with a great UI.
Amazon charges tax in some states.
Alice didn't charge sales tax in my state.
Alice.com is a marketplace that enables you to buy direct from multiple manufacturers without a retail middleman. Because of this direct relationship, we need to collect and remit sales tax in all jurisdictions. The sales tax will be calculated based on your ship-to zip code and therefore, you won't see it in your Order Summary until you enter your shipping location. You will see the final sales tax amount before confirming your order on step 3 of checkout."
I don't think they had a presence in CA though I could be wrong.
And I just looked back over my Alice orders from a few years ago. They do indeed include tax charges! Bummer.
And it looks like there's even a new version since last I visited.