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Doddle CEO: the value of empty space

Underutilized space Underutilized space
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Setting in motion underutilized space is nothing new. The concept behind Uber, BlaBlaCar and Airbnb is now being transferred to the parcel industry.

Last night 800,000 people rented accommodation from a service offering millions of rooms in 34,000 cities around the world.

These people slept snugly in beds that weren’t given to them by hotel chains, but instead, private individuals like you or I, joined together through an online booking site and an inescapable urge to source the best deal available.

The two in synergy have helped transform tourism around the world.

Now, you may be reading this and thinking- surely this is the same premise as a bed-and-breakfast, organizing a lift with your next-door neighbour, or looking after a friend’s pet whilst they are away?

And yes, to some extent this is true, but there’s a single, important caveat in all this that no neighbour can offer.

Unless they are Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin or Larry Page, they wouldn’t be able to provide you with the instantaneous potential to set in motion your underutilized space with millions of individuals around the world.

The concept of using underutilized space in property, road vehicles and man hours has been around for years.

These enabling platforms, the likes of Airbnb, Uber, BlaBlaCar and others offer unrivalled choice, ease, and speed to consumers at an unprecedented scale.

Technology and underutilized space

The concept of using underutilized space in property, road vehicles and man hours has been around for years.

In the 70s and 80s we saw it in the proliferation of companies such as Tupperware and Avon, companies that relied upon the time and property resources of stay at home parents and retirees to use their homes as mini show rooms and distribute products.

It was just a matter of time before the technology and platforms behind these businesses reached a point where the efficiency and trust to match millions of “haves” with millions of “wants” could be met on a scale that would kick-start a revolution.

The “underutilized space” (every spare seat on a long car journey, every vacant room in a flat or house) is simply being placed in the eye line of the consumer, packaged in such a way that affords the impression of ultimate control.

Take Uber as the prime example, with over 1 million trips completed per day, Trevor Kalanick has built the most successful taxi service of all time – and the great thing about Uber – you get to see which driver has accepted your request for a ride, you are able to see their rating and if you don’t want them to pick you up, you move onto someone else, it’s entirely up to you.

The same concept is what I am trying to do with the parcel industry.

Over time, the volume of parcels needing to be delivered has grown dramatically, exacerbated at peak periods by mega shopping events such as Black Friday, which will hit on 27 November this year.

Salmon consultancy predicts Black Friday will generate over £1 billion in online sales in the UK this year, however to deliver this volume of sales to consumers requires more tech and more muscle from the supply chain.

In just the last few weeks we’ve heard that Royal Mail and Amazon are taking on 19,000 new employees each, Yodel is recruiting 7,000 additional van drivers and DPD have built a £100m parcel superhub. All of this suggests the industry is in good shape. But how will it impact consumers?

Last Christmas customers voted with their feet with 39% of online shoppers opting to use click and collect rather than wait in for a delivery. This year we expect to see exponential growth in click and collect volumes, in our own network we’re preparing for 400-600% volume growth compared to an average week.

The consumers most likely to adopt our services over this time are those who want to kick the Christmas Grinch of missed deliveries.

Whilst one-hour delivery windows for food are becoming commonplace, shoppers still want more solutions that help them manage their precious time and avoid the inconvenience of having to wait in for their stuff or chase a delivery they missed.

Parcel services that give consumers greater control and flexibility over how, when and where they send and receive parcels will emerge victorious.

Ultimately, deploying underutilized space is about making life easier.