Doddle, the UK’s first fully dedicated, staffed, online shopping collection and returns service located in Network Rail train stations and major hubs has announced it will open in 300 new locations in the next three years, creating 3,000 jobs.
The unique £24m company is partnering with some of the nation’s biggest retailers including ASOS and New Look, with many more to follow.
In addition to the pilot store in Milton Keynes station, the first Doddle shops to be opened will include London Waterloo (which last year enjoyed a footfall in excess of 100 million), Bromley South, Brighton, Chelmsford and London Cannon Street.
Open seven days a week, early until late, the Doddle shops will fit in with people’s busy lifestyles and enable them to choose exactly how, when and where they send, return and receive parcels. Many will feature changing rooms and there is an easy-to-use website and notifications service through SMS and email.
Doddle is an independent, standalone limited company, with Network Rail and Lloyd Dorfman holding equal majority shareholdings.
This is the latest venture for Lloyd Dorfman, who will act as Doddle chairman and is best known for founding the world’s largest retail foreign exchange business, Travelex. He said: “I signed the Doddle joint venture contract literally hours after signing the recent Travelex deal. We intend to take the experience of creating a challenger brand to provide a game-changing service for millions of online shoppers.”
Doddle’s research reveals 59% of British consumers, equivalent to 30 million, now use click and collect (up from 45%, equivalent to 23 million, six months ago) but they would be more likely to use the service if there was a more convenient method of making returns.
Any retailer can offer the service, with customers of the nation’s biggest online stores already selecting the Doddle option at the checkout. Leading brands offering the service include: ASOS, the online fashion retailer; New Look, the leading multi-channel fast fashion retailer; and T.M. Lewin, the business wear specialist, with more brands to be announced soon. Both New Look and T.M. Lewin are using Doddle to sit alongside their existing click and collect and next day delivery services.
The Doddle service is the only one of its kind that is available to every retailer, e-tailer, parcel carrier and shipper, creating a network of dedicated single points for the collection, return and sending of parcels. This open access approach will enable retailers and carriers to enhance and complement their existing delivery offering, plus allow consumers to combine collections and returns from multiple retailers into one trip at a time that suits them or coincides with an already planned journey.
Tim Robinson, chief executive at Doddle, who was previously route managing director, Sussex at Network Rail and has been responsible for driving the development of the Doddle concept within the business, said: “We created Doddle to improve the online shopping experience. We’re not another “me too” click and collect offer, it’s a game-changing service consumers are crying out for but no one else can provide.
“We offer a premium service with contemporary shops, advanced technology and highly trained staff delivering a dedicated customer experience. It is the next major step in online shopping, providing a parcel collection, returns and delivery service that has customer choice and convenience at its very heart. What’s more, we are delivery carrier and retailer agnostic so any brand can offer the Doddle service to their customers.”
Robin Gisby, Network Rail's managing director, network operations said: "More people are travelling by rail than ever before and stations have become more than just a place to wait for, or get off a train. We've adapted to passengers' changing needs and now offer quality retail, food and drink at our biggest stations, such as London Waterloo.
"Introducing Doddle to stations will enable us to reinvest our profits back into the railway and is a natural next step to help passengers and people who work and live near stations, whose lives are increasingly busy and on the move."