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Making collection and delivery a doddle

By Retail Technology | Friday August 22 2014

‘Doddle’ has kicked off its national roll out at railway stations and major hubs across Britain

A new parcel collection and delivery service called Doddle has recently announced that it is to open at 300 new locations within the next three years, creating 3,000 new jobs.

The announcement follows a successful pilot of the service at Milton Keynes by Network Rail employees from its nearby national centre and local businesses such as Santander.

Busy customers

“The key USPs for Doddle are the convenience of our store locations and the focus on customer service,” explained Gary O’Connor, CTO at Doddle. “We understand that our customers are busy people with time at a premium. Stores in prime locations with excellent store staff really help in that situation and the feedback from our early stores has reinforced this view.We believe that by using the right technology, we can ensure a great customer experience tailored to individual needs as we grow.”

With immediate effect Doddle will operate as in independent, standalone limited company, with Network Rail and Lloyd Dorfman CBE holding equal majority shareholdings. Lloyd is best known for creating the Travelex Group.

Retailers on board

Leading online fashion retailer ASOS is to be one of the early adopters of the service, initially offering it for returns to over 40,000 customers in the Milton Keynes region. 

Others include: New Look, the leading multi-channel fast fashion retailer; Countrywide Farmers, the country and equestrian clothing specialist; and TM Lewin, the stylish business wear specialist who is using Doddle to sit alongside its existing click & collect and next day delivery services.

Five new shops

The first five new Doddle shops will be at London Waterloo which last year enjoyed a footfall in excess of 100 million, Bromley South, Brighton, Chelmsford and London Cannon Street. They will be located in dedicated retail units within the stations or within built–to-order facilities.

Facilities will be open seven days a week and are linked to a website supported by notifications through SMS and email.

Retailer and customer pain

“The main pain point is the fulfillment of e-commerce orders. Everyone knows how annoying it is to find a card pushed through the door instead of the product they were expecting,” continued O’Connor. “Often it’s even worse when the next step is a difficult trip somewhere inconvenient to pick up the goods.”

O’Connor believes returns are also a key pain point for retailers with a smaller store footprint. “Frequently, potential customers are deterred from making a purchase based on the perception of a returns process that is time consuming or difficult,” he said. “This is especially true for clothes. Finding locations that are convenient for consumers while providing an economic logistic solution is one of our key strengths.”

Technology is key

“We're looking to apply leading edge web technologies to maximise our agility and productivity,” explained O’Connor. “That's why Cloud, more specifically Platform as a Service (PAAS), will play a significant role in our future. We're excited by some of the emergent technologies in this space as the market matures. 

“Continuous Delivery is important to us and we're excited as test-driven infrastructure matures, with the help of products like Docker,” he continued. “This really unlocks truly agile delivery of business functionality. From a development technologies point of view, like almost everyone we have some Java code. 

“However, we see the future involving more node.js, along with Scala for some of the more resource intensive tasks”, he concluded. “The combination of node.js, Platform as a Service (PAAS) and the ubiquity of JavaScript across platforms is particularly powerful.

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