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As out of home delivery continues to gain in popularity, with Metapack’s Ecommerce Delivery Benchmark Report 2023 finding over a third (34%) of consumers would happily switch to parcel lockers or click and collect services, DeliveryX sat down with Doddle’s Katie Langley at The Delivery Conference 2023.

Katie Langley, global sales director, Doddle

What does your company do, and what is your USP?
Doddle is a technology company, we work with postal operators, carriers and 3PLS to revolutionise their out of home delivery networks. That falls into a number of different areas but ultimately, our goal is to drive more volume into that out of home delivery network.

We look at what the customer experiences are on our preferred delivery network and we look at how that delivery network is presented at the checkout of the merchant. We also look at, one of the biggest topics that’s being talked about today – returns and how consumers return those parcels into that delivery network.

We have a technology portfolio that helps support improving all of those areas and driving the maximum volume into the network.

On returns, how can an out of home network streamline the process?
It’s an area where merchants lose margins. One of the reasons is that they don’t know when it’s coming back, they don’t know where it’s coming back from, and they don’t know who it’s coming from.

We’re all about providing additional data to the merchant to be able to start making more economic decisions to get more profitable returns. They start to get that additional visibility of where that parcel is coming back from and how it’s been returned.

Then when you start to look at all of that data, you can start to make decisions. For example if it’s a low cost item, should it be going back to my return centre being reprocessed and being resold? Or should it actually go to a charity shop? Or should their consumer keep it and it not be returned?

The more data you start to collect about the return of that parcel, the more beneficial it comes for everybody in the chain.

Digitising the returns journey is also more beneficial for a consumer. It’s a better consumer experience, not having to print a label at home, stick it on your parcel etc.

Returns are not financially sustainable, and the returns process could be greener. Can technology help the merchants and consumers make more sustainable choices?
Sustainability is becoming an area that is really important to consumers. Metapack’s data shows 63% of shoppers are spending more time looking for a retailer that is more sustainable. That’s a really important stat because sustainability is going to change consumer behaviour.

And data can help provide more sustainable options. Collecting that data, digitising that experience will continue to support it.

There is another element of the out of home delivery network. We provide technology that allows a carrier or postal operator to have a great experience in the out of home delivery network. You start to look at what is the best out of home network and look at dense, quite fruitful urban areas. It is really where carriers can start to make additional savings, additional benefits and have an impact on sustainability.

And for a great customer experience, we have seen so much delivery disruption this winter, can an out of home network help retailers limit that disruption? Or speed up delivery, and improve that customer experience?
In the UK specifically peak has been so disruptive. Royal Mail striking will have a huge impact on so many different areas in the UK. It was a really hard time for carriers and for merchants to actually continue the level of service that they wanted to at the cost that they wanted to.

In conjunction with everything that’s happening with our economy and consumers being much more cost conscious it was a really disruptive time.

Out of home delivery feels right, I don’t want to say the quick win, but it does seem like the easy answer. Ultimately the simple economics of delivering 50 parcels to 50 homes on an island the size that we are, with the carrier numbers that we have, isn’t sustainable. It’s not for a green agenda, it’s not cost effective either.

For a customer experience it may feel like it’s a premium service having your parcel delivered to your front door. But the reality is with a shortage of drivers, they are under a huge amount of time pressure to deliver that parcel, so consumers either get a parcel left on a doorstep or in a safe place, or the ‘missed your delivery’ card – that isn’t a great customer experience.

How do you combat that with the fluctuation of ecommerce parcels, and all of the different pressures that are coming from your carrier network? An out of home delivery network, PUDO location, or postal operator seems like the logical next step for us.

PUDO has really taken off in Europe – it’s had great adoption in Poland, across Nordic countries – is 2023 the year that the UK starts to catch up, or are we talking about a long term project?
2023 and 2024 are probably the years that we start to catch up with the rest of Europe. The UK is such an interesting market, because we have so many carriers and they have their own out of home delivery network. We have such a small geography with the amount of carriers that we have.

I think the Post Office has a unique opportunity here. They are linked with Royal Mail but they can also take volume from a number of other carriers in the UK, and can really consolidate the outbound delivery network and provide an agnostic out of home network.

Having lots of different carriers deliver their parcels to the Post Office becomes really convenient for the consumer, you can collect all of your parcels from one location, and the Post Office has the network to support it.

It’s going to be interesting to see what happens.

One of the things that I think carriers, and merchants, miss out on is offering out of home networks at the checkout. We have seen with Australia Post, and in Japan with Yamato, offering out of home networks at the checkout, in the right way, is really key to driving volume to that network.

In the UK we see outbound volume going to out of home networks traditionally done by in flight redirects. Or it’s done by failure to deliver at home and then goes to the out of home delivery network. If you start presenting it the right way at the checkout to the consumer, it will have a really positive impact on the volumes.

Presenting it as the more sustainable option gives consumers that visibility, and they will start to use those networks more. We know from when a consumer uses an out of home delivery network, they then go on to use it 8 more times. There’s a huge repetitive usage.