It's a Doddle: Network Rail's new parcel drop-off service

Posted on by Mike Evans

Waiting at home parcel deliveries is a pain. For some, busy working during the day, it is impossible. It really bugs me and I would surely buy more stuff from Amazon and other on-line retailers if I didn't face hassles in getting my hands on the goodies. It isn't too bad with Royal Mail packages, which can be picked up at a local sorting office, but courier companies are invariably located in the boondocks. For example, every time Apple tries to deliver flashy new product I end up trekking miles to the nearest courier depot.

Amazon has introduced drop-off services at local stores in some areas and this is a welcome move. But not all Amazon sellers are in the scheme and, of course, it is restricted to the one web site. Happily, more progress is on the cards and I was encouraged to read that Network Rail is to introduce collection stores at three busy stations, Milton Keynes, Paddington and Woking. During the trial period this new "Doddle"[1] system will be open to rail employees before being opened to members of the public who take out a free registration. If it is successful, as I am sure it will be, Doddle stores will be rolled out to other stations throughout the country.

Many times I decide to buy from a brick-and-mortar store somewhere in the vastness of London rather than choose a slightly cheaper product from the internet. The reason is convenience. The idea of having a drop-off for all my on-line purchases at, say, Paddington Station, is attractive and will certainly encourage more internet sales traffic from Macfilos. Railway stations are an ideal location because commuters, who are seldom at home to receive parcels, can easily collect after work.

For others, such as me, stations are convenient transport hubs. The ability to have anything delivered to the Doddle store is a good interim measure while Amazon is fettling its low-flying drones. Come to think of it, though, who is going to be at home to "sign for" a drone delivery? Back to Paddington.

[1] I am not sure if the phrase "it's a doddle," meaning it is really easy, is current outside the UK, but it is an inspired bit of naming.

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