As anyone who works full time can tell you, getting deliveries can be a nightmare. With online shopping in the UK growing at a rapid rate (up 30% on Black Friday 2015 compared to the previous year), a new category has emerged to help you avoid the dreaded “Sorry we missed you” note.

To ensure they can get their parcels without having to wait in a Post Office queue, an increasing number of shoppers are opting to click and collect, and a range of companies has sprung up to meet this need.  One of these is Doddle. They were started 18 months ago as a joint venture between Network Rail and Lloyd Dorfman, offering stores across the UK where consumers can send and collect parcels on their commute, and are a brand that we’re really excited to be working with!

Third party parcel stores such as Doddle are an interesting development in the click and collect arena. Currently a third of online orders are being delivered via click and collect[1], and this is expected to increase. However, for shops that offer their own click and collect service, pricing margins can be very low, with delivery often offered for free - and with companies like Amazon developing their own delivery services, pricing pressures increase even further[2]. This is where third party parcel stores such as Doddle really come in to play.

By either taking over, or working alongside, the click and collect function that retailers offer, Doddle gives consumers a greater degree of flexibility in how they shop, as well as allowing brands to meet the demand for click and collect. However, as a challenger brand in a market that includes big players such as CollectPlus, Doddle has to find a way to stand out. By launching Runner, where parcels can be collected or delivered directly from you, and Neighbour, where enterprising people in your neighbourhood can set themselves up as mini Doddle stores to make collecting even more convenient, they are certainly starting to differentiate themselves from other major players in the market.

Doddle still has some big challenges ahead; raising awareness of their services, better understanding their customers and how to meet their needs, and constantly competing against more established and larger collection services. Here at Netfluential we love working with challenger brands, and are really excited to help them overcome these challenges - by helping to map and size the market, ensure that propositions such as Runner and Neighbour are positioned in the best possible way for customers and supporting the value that they provide to brands. In true Netfluential style we’re using multiple methods and talking to a whole range of staff, customers and retailers to capture market understanding and in the moment experiences. Success? It’s a doddle.