Network Rail is to test the concept of a parcel collection and delivery service at its mainline stations to capitalise on the booming online retail market.
It will be the only one of its kind that is available to every retailer, e-tailer, parcel carrier and shipper, creating a network of single points for the collection, return and sending of parcels.
Following over 12 months of researching and monitoring the sector, Network Rail said it has decided to initially test the concept at Milton Keynes Central station with its 3,000 employees who are based near by and which is close to a number of key delivery operations. This will be followed closely by trials at London Paddington and Woking stations with other stations to follow throughout 2014 once the concept is proven, creating up to 4,000 new jobs.
The new business initiative is called Doddle and is a joint venture with leading entrepreneur and philanthropist Lloyd Dorfman, best known for creating the Travelex Group which is now the world’s largest non-bank foreign exchange business.
These dedicated parcel shops will be open seven days a week, early until late, to fit with people’s busy lifestyles and enable them to choose exactly how, when and where they send and receive parcels. There will be an easy-to-use transactional website and advanced touch point notifications through a mobile app, SMS and email.
Retailers who opt for the service will benefit from an increase in first time delivery success rates and the return of goods will be easier, quicker and more efficient, the company claims. Doddle said it will ultimately enhance customer satisfaction and the overall shopping experience to help drive repeat sales, as well as reduce unnecessary costs and remove inefficiency associated with missed or lost deliveries by minimising customer service enquiries, complaints and compensation claims.
Designed to create a positive experience for the consumer, the Doddle service will provide a complementary brand extension for retailers. The service is also highly flexible and scalable to handle sharp increases in parcel volumes during peak trading periods, taking advantage of safe and secure premises, professional and friendly staff and leading technology solutions. Added-value solutions such as quality checks, technical swaps, loan replacements and high security services will also be offered.
Peter Louden, project director, said: “Our initial conversations with both leading retailers and carriers have been extremely positive with many indicating a desire to become an early adopter. They are excited by the fantastic locations and the guaranteed footfall which is expected to increase by 30% by 2020. There are around 1.5bn passenger journeys taking place every year plus a large proportion of the UK population lives within five miles of a railway station making it a highly convenient solution for many consumers.”