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MDU property managers shut door on lockers in favor of smart package rooms

Oct. 20, 2022
To solve the package delivery glut, commercial property managers are realizing that building lobbies need not function as micro distribution centers.

According to eMarketer, the United States e-commerce market reached over $843 billion in 2021, number two behind China. And according to OBERLO, out of the 7.87 billion people in the world, 27.2% of the global population is now shopping online.

These statistics underscore the fact that the number of packages received per person is dramatically increasing—especially true for renters in multifamily units and apartment buildings.

In addition, the 2022 NMHC/Grace Hill Renter Preferences Survey Report confirms that:

The share of renters who received two or fewer packages per month dropped from 45 percent in 2019 to just 24 percent this round, while the share who received three or more packages per month increased from 55 percent to 76 percent over the two-year period.”

Shutting the door on lockers

Delivering all these packages to these residents puts an enormous burden on concierge services. The fact is that these properties are not equipped to process and secure large amounts of packages.

Because of this, more apartment and multifamily building owners are turning to innovative technology to help them securely manage and automate the package delivery and distribution process.

However, the most helpful package management technology doesn’t use a “cram-to-fit” locker system that can’t conform to large package sizes or keep perishable foods fresh.

Instead, the most valuable systems leverage a smart shelving system inside an enclosed area to securely stage items of any size or type for residents’ retrieval.

Advanced intelligent package room technology uses computer vision to watch each item until residents scan their QR Codes, received via text or email, at the intelligent kiosk to enable entry.

Once in the secure room, a laser guidance system provides visual and audio prompts to ensure the correct item is picked up. Then a sound notification is used if the wrong package is selected.

For property managers across the country, these intelligent package rooms have become the clear choice for ensuring simple, secure package delivery and pickup because the solutions:

  • Free-up staff to focus on core duties.
  • Provide affordable, scalable package management.
  • Streamline package delivery and pickup.
  • Eliminate package management tasks and responsibilities.
  • Ensure package safety and security.
  • Enable details and proof of delivery and pickup.
  • Minimize liability for package loss and theft.

Smart Package Room: Case Studies

Tucked away in a cozy corner of Manhattan, 210-220 E. 22nd Street offers spacious studios, one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments, and duplexes in the Gramercy Park neighborhood.

Modern style blends with a nod to the building’s historical past to serve a one-of-a-kind living experience. In addition, the property consists of two buildings that connect through a common corridor on the ground level.

The way the building is constructed, there is a concierge service on both ends to support the daily package deliveries. To better manage and process the volume of packages, 210-220 selected Position Imaging’s Smart Package Room.

“Since we implemented the Smart Package Room, there have been quite a few changes,” said Vincent Cricco, Property General Manager, 210-220. “The staff has had more time to do their day-to-day activities, and as a result, the length of time spent by residents picking up packages has been reduced. In addition, the clutter in the lobbies has disappeared. Previously, the larger packages overflowed into the halls because of limited package space–it was unsightly.”

A similar staff productivity experience occurs at Country Club Towers in Denver, Colorado.

Constructed in 2017, Country Club Towers contains 558 units with 850 residents. Once the buildings reached a hundred percent occupancy, they received 520 packages per day. Four hundred to five hundred boxes would be tossed on the floor by the courier, and it took the concierge team three to four hours to manage them all.

Some apartment or multifamily housing managers have considered lockers a means to the package delivery mess, but figuring out the right formula for lockers needed in apartment buildings is often flawed.

In addition, lockers cannot account for seasonality or increasing deliveries every day. Unfortunately, the overflow of packages that don’t fit into lockers is given to the concierge by the courier, leaving courier/concierge issues unresolved.

“The back hallway was the overflow for packages. Anything that did not fit into our former package system would overflow into the hallway, creating a mess with people walking into items– it was not a secure location,” said Dane Groteluschen, Concierge, Country Club Towers. “Things will get misplaced, and it would be tough to find the package. The Smart Package Room was step-by-step and explanatory. It made storing packages twice as easy. Now you can scan a package, place it on the shelf, and the system registers it.”

Perhaps the most notable benefit of the Smart Package Room is the time returned to staff to conduct their daily assignments.

Timothy Colgan, Regional Property Manager and General Club Manager at Country Club Towers, explains more, “The biggest difference is the labor hours my team has gotten back. The couriers are held accountable for putting the packages into the room. The ease of use in the training makes it extremely simple for the couriers and the employees.”

Smart Package Rooms: New Must-Have Resident Amenity and Utility

However, the biggest test of any new amenity is how residents embrace it–and once residents use the Smart Package Room, they cannot live without it. The most prominent convenience residents rave about is how it conforms to their lifestyle.

“In my experience, picking up packages is easy. I don't have to bother the front desk because they're so busy,” said Kelly Forrister, resident at Country Club Towers. “I just flash my phone, and the Smart Package Room’s lights tell me where to go inside the room. I can go any time of day, 24/7, at 5 a.m. or 10 p.m., and it doesn't matter; it's super easy.”

“I can go in at 11 p.m. or 6 a.m. It’s super simple and organized.  It only takes me three to five seconds to get my package. Then, I'm out, and I'm done,” said Alex, resident, 210/220, New York.

In 2020, Amazon Logistics (the delivery arm of Amazon) delivered 4.2 billion parcel shipments, up from 1.9 billion in 2019. The Amazon statistics illustrate that click-based shopping is increasing at an extraordinary rate, forcing property managers to turn their lobbies into micro-distribution centers.

However, rather than ignore this trend, managers and property owners must embrace it to distinguish themselves with a much-needed amenity—intelligent package rooms. 

Intelligent package rooms are becoming a seamless utility like ATMs or WiFi to enhance residents’ lifestyles with simplicity and convenience.

Embracing this technology will create new efficiencies for couriers, alleviate concierges from post office duties, and enable residents to retrieve packages at their convenience, 24/7.

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About the Author

Ned Hill

Ned Hill is the founder and CEO of Position Imaging (PI), a pioneer in the field of advanced tracking technologies. Under Ned’s strategic vision and guidance, PI has developed an industry-leading tracking solution, utilized computer vision and laser guidance to simplify item delivery, and created unique AI-based technologies. These combine to improve logistics efficiency and continuous visibility to items at any stage in the process. Ned has raised close to 20 million in funding, driven product development, and created a partner ecosystem of industry leaders in hardware (Hitachi-LG Data Storage, Intel), software (Microsoft, Salesforce), solutions (Zebra, Lozier), and service (Bell and Howell). Ned is the inventor or co-inventor of over 50 patents/patent applications and a speaker at industry conferences including CES, Live Free and Start, and at MIT.  

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