The simple solution to handling packages

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By Barry Hume, president of Package Concierge

Many of today’s consumers enjoy the convenience of purchasing everything from groceries to gadgets online rather than traveling to brick-and-mortar stores. While the convenience is a great benefit, online shopping is driving the need for creative solutions to manage package volume in apartment communities – and that has made digital package lockers one of the hottest new amenities in 2014.

Why is the pressure growing for these kinds of solutions? The answer is simple: Package volume is rising rapidly. A typical 250-unit apartment community receives more than 20,000 packages each year. That’s more than 50 packages per day. That kind of volume requires concierge or leasing staff to spend more than 20 hours per week managing packages – time that could be much better spent catering to other resident services. And there is no end is sight. Online sales have grown exponentially over the last decade, and eMarketer predicts ecommerce in North America will grow from $482.6 billion in 2014 to $660.4 billion by 2017.

With the growth in online sales, package management is becoming an increasingly significant part of the property management business. Owners are recognizing that on-site professionals who manage packages are spending substantial amounts of time to individually log, store and send alerts for every package they accept. And that’s only the front end of the job. On the back end, they have to help residents when they come to pick up their packages throughout the day.

For residents in apartment communities, the growth in ecommerce has made package management a critical and valuable amenity. In fact, a 2013 National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) resident survey ranked access to packages as the second most important amenity, right after fitness centers. The reasons for the high importance ranking are clear: consumers don’t want to miss deliveries because they’re not home; they want to know their packages are safe and secure; and they want to have access to their packages at convenient times.

And while the greater volume of packages is a boon for delivery carriers, it also raises considerable operational challenges. If no one is available to accept a package delivery, it means the delivery professional needs to return and try again. Efficiency is an important factor in carrier profitability, and re-delivery of packages takes away from route optimization. Plus, more driving means higher gas and emissions from delivery trucks at a time when carriers are trying to meet higher sustainability goals.

Everyone involved in the process – residents, delivery carriers, owners and property managers – are looking for solutions to keep up with the rising popularity of online shopping. So, digital package lockers have become one of the hottest new amenities in 2014 for good reason. Owners offer them as a cutting edge amenity for automating package handling – an amenity that residents are often willing to pay for. Property managers advocate for them so that they can focus on their jobs, rather than on logging, storing and retrieving packages. Carriers love them because they only need to scan a barcode and deposit their packages into a locker; it doesn’t matter if no one is available to accept a delivery. And residents want them so they can rest easy that their packages will be safe and secure in a locker they can access at their convenience, 24/7.

Ultimately, digital lockers are also a great business investment. Property managers watch prospective residents walk away from apartments if the community has no package management solution. That loss can cost a property tens of thousands of dollars a year. Not only does a package management system keep potential residents from walking away, but it also provides the potential to reduce costs and increase revenue. Depending on how a property manages to cut costs or increase fees after installing a digital locker system, a return can be achieved in as little as 12 months. And if that’s true today, just think about the payback on this amenity as the number of package deliveries keeps growing in the years to come.

Barry Hume is the co-founder and president of Package Concierge, developer of a digital locker solution for package management at apartment and student housing communities. Previously, Barry was the managing director of Primal Manufacturing and president and CEO of MATS, Inc. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a Master of Business Administration from The Tuck School at Dartmouth.

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