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Doddle’s new retail strategy driven by expensive mistakes says chief customer officer

Paddy Earnshaw

Doddle is changing its business model to open concessions within supermarkets, department stores and other high street retailers. This follows the closure of the majority of its standalone stores as they were deemed to be too expensive to run – and to be badly designed.

A candid assessment of the click and collect brand’s retail strategy was shared by Paddy Earnshaw, chief customer officer at Doddle, at Retail Design Expo. He admitted the brand has made a number of mistakes in its mission to bring a parcel collection service to the high street.

Morrisons has announced that it will be hosting branches of Doddle, which already has a presence in Cancer Research charity stores. Earnshaw also revealed the click and collect service is trialling a concession within a “well known stationers”.

The focus on building concessions has come about through trial and error, admitted Earnshaw. "We’ve built badly but we’ve changed quickly and as you’ll see we’ve pulled back from buying 2,500 sq ft [232 sq m] stores and started to put [Doddle stores] into other people’s environments.

Lack of research, poor planning and ill-thought-out designs are to blame for the brand’s initial failings on the high street said Earnshaw: “What at the time we thought was a truly innovative and genius design, we now realise is an A-Z of what not to do in retail design,” he quipped, adding, it’s a “wall of shame, rather than a wall of fame.”

Earnshaw listed a number of mistakes, including renting prime retail space that was too large for its needs, putting “cool” but non-integrated technology into stores, and making design errors such as opening a store in Waterloo station that had too little space for storing parcels and too much empty space at the front for customers. “We’d forgotten some of our fundamentals,” he said.

Whilst the brand is focusing on concessions its remaining standalone stores have been redesigned. Its third iteration - which can be seen at Liverpool Street station – is designed to be both efficient and customer-friendly. The shipping container has a much smaller footprint than its other stores but can hold 1,800 parcels, and hand held technology has been integrated. 

“The reality is that we’re encouraging people to become part of our environment but we’re integrating the technology in a way to make the experience sympathetic to customers,” added Earnshaw.