A decade in the last mile: the next chapter for Doddle with Blue Yonder
November 2023 marked a new start in the decade-long journey of Doddle, with the close of an acquisition by leading supply chain solutions provider Blue Yonder. Duncan Angove, CEO at Blue Yonder, noted that the product portfolios of the two businesses complemented each other perfectly, enabling Blue Yonder to “offer retailers and logistics providers enhanced growth potential and superior experiences for their own customers.”
Founded by Tim Robinson (who was Doddle’s CEO) and Sir Lloyd Dorfman in 2014, Doddle started life as a joint venture with Network Rail to tackle inefficiencies in home delivery with the UK’s first tech-enabled pick-up and drop-off (PUDO) network based in UK railway stations. From there, the company branched out into high streets, handling millions of parcels for Britain’s biggest retailers in its distinctive purple Doddle stores.
Doddle’s evolution saw a transition away from directly operating the PUDO network to becoming a technology provider for carriers and retailers globally. 2016 saw the introduction of the original Doddle Kiosk, and in the following years the business formed partnerships with key players like Australia Post and Yamato, ultimately coming to provide delivery options and returns journeys for over 900 merchant sites worldwide.
While the business evolved, the Doddle mission remained the same – to make e-commerce seamless, sustainable and profitable through a better first and last mile. With a range of first- and last-mile offerings, including self-service kiosks, PUDO networks, checkout integrations and digital returns journeys, Doddle prepares to enter its second decade and next chapter as part of Blue Yonder.
Teaming up in a returns crisis
The first contact between Blue Yonder and Doddle happened in 2021, when the former was in the process of being acquired by Panasonic. From that very first meeting, Tim Robinson says that the company’s long-term global vision reflected their own. “I have always been obsessed by “why” Doddle exists rather than by “what” Doddle does, and this has been reflected in our ability to pivot and evolve within our space”, states Robinson. “Blue Yonder is on a mission to build the “supply chain operating system for the world”, and we clearly fit well into that”.
“Blue Yonder were firmly top of my list. Despite the fact that they have been established for over 40 years they are still growing with turnover up year-on-year. They continue to invest heavily, US$1bn across three years in product development, and have a 700-strong and growing sales team.”
Before the acquisition, Blue Yonder had product gaps in returns management and final-mile delivery. Returns pose a huge risk to retailer profits, costing retailers approximately US$165m in returns for every US$1 billion made in sales. According to Doddle’s research, 63% of merchants cite returns as a significant problem, rising 11 percentage points since the previous year. Robinson states that “the issue of returns is fast reaching a crunch point for both retailers and carriers. It’s a hot space at the moment”.
With Doddle’s portfolio, particularly its digital returns platform providing paperless and frictionless returns that reduce costs and improve efficiency, Blue Yonder can fill product gaps and close the loop on being able to manage the full lifecycle of an online order. “No one else has that broad capability at scale,” says Robinson.
Duncan Angove, CEO at Blue Yonder, said, “Doddle has achieved what so few other companies have been able to accomplish: it has cracked the code of first and last mile together with omnichannel returns. The beauty of Doddle’s solution is that it solves the returns problem end-to-end. From returns initiation to returns rules, from in-store returns processing to self-service kiosks, right through to warehouse returns handling and back into stock. The proliferation of e-commerce – and, therefore, returns – has placed increased pressure on carriers, muddied the waters of inventory management and created frustrations for shoppers. Doddle’s capabilities unlock a differentiated, superior customer experience will help us to further our mission to transform the supply chain.”
What’s next for Blue Yonder and Doddle?
Blue Yonder and Doddle already share several clients and are selling to many of the same businesses. Initial response from clients has been positive, with Robinson stating that the Blue Yonder backing “provides an extra of reassurance around our long-term viability, ambition and capability”.
Together, Doddle and Blue Yonder will be able to provide customers with a complete end-to-end returns management system (RMS) alongside its existing Order Management, Transport Management and Warehouse Management solutions.
“Blue Yonder is evolving massively right now, leading a transformation across the supply chain that will see us all leverage new technologies, make better use of data and develop our belief in the power of the supply chain to drive growth and change”, says Robinson. “I love being part of an evolution so what better place could there be for Doddle to continue its own evolution.”
Doddle has spent the last 10 years working towards being the best first & last mile tech partner in global ecommerce. Joining the Blue Yonder fold, the company is set to spend the next 10 fulfilling its potential, with the backing of its equally innovative counterpart, Blue Yonder.
To find out more about the Doddle and Blue Yonder offering, visit doddle.com.