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19 April, 2014


Time-slot deliveries – sooner than you think »

Fulfilment for smaller e-retailers »



It's a Doddle: Network Rail pitches into delivery solutions market

Network Rail's Doddle pickup points

A drop-off service for home shopping deliveries and returns is being trialled by Network Rail. It has been given the imaginative name Doddle.

All Doddle locations are expected to be staffed, and will be open to all carriers and retailers, which differentiates the proposition from most others of its kind in this market space.

The first Doddle location is at Milton Keynes central station, where it will be tested by 3,000 of Network Rail’s own employees. It is due to be followed closely by sites at London Paddington and Woking stations, and the company says others will follow during 2014.

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ByBox takes over ParcelXchange locker network

ByBox has acquired the locker-box delivery network of Business Direct, along with the related field support operations of its parent, DX Network Services. It gains an estimated 356 ParcelXchange box-bank locations to add to the 1,500 in own network.

DX chief executive Petar Cvetovik says the sale will enable DX to concentrate on its core B2B and B2C services, leaving the field service operation in the hands of a company specialising in in-night deliveries.

DX acquired Business Direct in 2008, and the locker-box operation has remained a specialist unit in its portfolio. Until recently it was the only company in the UK apart from ByBox to run a network of intelligent locker banks, though some rival field service specialists do offer various other types of box system.

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Yodel launches C2C parcel delivery service

Consumers and small businesses can now send parcels via the Yodel delivery network without first setting up an account. They simply order the service online.

The new service is branded YodelDirect, and has its own separate web site, www.yodeldirect.co.uk. Yodel says it has been set up in response to customer demand.

There is no volume threshold; users can send just one parcel if they want to. However, the company says they can still benefit from volume discounts, which kick in automatically according to the number of parcels that are collected at one time.

Two service levels are offered – next-day and two-day – and prices for one-off consignments start at £9.99 and £8.99 respectively. There is mention of prices as low as £5.49 for sending second or subsequent parcels.

The service includes proof of delivery and insurance of up to £20 per parcel as standard, and all consignments are trackable. Special terms are offered for services involving addresses in Northern Ireland and the Highland and Islands.

According to executive chairman Dick Stead: "The launch of YodelDirect opens up a whole new market and makes Yodel’s services available … to online marketplace sellers, entrepreneurs and small businesses. It’s a hassle-free alternative for busy people who don’t have time to wait in a Post Office queue."

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John Lewis trials outgoing shopping deliveries via CollectPlus

John Lewis trialling CollectPlus

John Lewis is trialling a scheme under which home shoppers will be able to have their goods delivered to a CollectPlus outlet instead of to their homes.

Initially the system will be trialled in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and South West of England, and will involve 1,500 of CollectPlus’s 5,250 outlets.

John Lewis already allows customers to return home shopping through CollectPlus outlets under a nationwide scheme, so it seems likely that the outgoing service will also go nationwide so long as the trial is regarded as successful.

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Ireland to get postcodes within two years

Ireland is finally to get a formal postcode system. The Irish government has confirmed that it is to go ahead with a plan to launch a system by 2015, and says a consortium headed by Capita Ireland will mange the roll-out

Ireland is notorious in home delivery circles as being the only country in the OECD and the EU without at least some kind of official postcode system. According to some sources, up to 30 per cent of Irish addresses are duplicated, posing major difficulties for home delivery operations.

Despite these apparent problems, AN Post (the Irish Post Office) has in the past been reluctant to push for a postcode system, arguing that its advanced optical sorting technology obviates the need for one. However, the lack of a system has inconvenienced other carriers for many years, and makes activities relying on geolocation (satnav, for instance) much trickier to implement and use.

The new postcodes will use a seven-character alphanumeric system in the format A65 B2CD, and existing Dublin codes will be incorporated in the first part (the general area), satisfying residents of districts where such postcodes have achieved a status value.

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