Forget drones and driverless cars, Doddle is going back to basics with a team of runners at the ready to pick up parcels direct from customers’ homes and workplaces.
Initially only covering London postcodes in the EC1-4 neighbourhood (think Clerkenwell, Moorgate, Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, and the eDelivery office) the launch team of five runners will sprint to the aid of customers who make bookings via the Doddle Runner app: the customer uploads a photo of the parcel, inputs the weight and dimensions, the app also allows for the parcel to be tracked once posted.
With plans to expand to other parts of London, and then out to other parts of the UK, the launch coincides with the opening of the first Doddle store in Canary Wharf, the heart of London’s financial district. A further seven runners are to be recruited in the immediate future.
Pounding the pavements will have its limits and the Doddle Runners will be supported by a fleet of vans, which will come in handy in the event they are called upon to collect particularly heavy or bulky items. Other than that, the Runners will have just a rucksack, an Oyster card, their wits and their feet to rely on.
The concept was put to the test in a #RacetheRushHour contest with the team behind Epic Challenges, who were challenged to see if they could deliver a parcel faster on foot than a Boris bike, the Tube and a London bus across the same distance. You can watch a video of that here, which shows four contestants starting out just outside Monument Tube station, just down the street from the eDelivery office, and heading for Cannon Street Tube station.
Tim Robinson, Doddle CEO, said: “We’ve all had those moments when we realise we need to get a parcel to someone for the next day, but we’re short on time to send it, or we’re running out of time to return something bought online that we don’t want.
“Doddle Runner solves this problem by coming to you and getting your parcels to where they need to be. We’ll do the running around so you don’t have to. In designing Doddle Runner we wanted to create a service that we would like to use as customers, no hassle and no worries.”
Doddle is a joint venture between Lloyd Dorfman and Network Rail. It employs more than 300 people and has 35 stores across the UK.
Runners will collect parcels with a maximum weight of 16kg each, with maximum combined dimensions of 150cm (longest side can be 60cm). The service costs £5, not including associated postage charges, which are estimated via the app before the parcel is collected.