This article was contributed by asset tracking and package logistics pioneer Position Imaging, whose widely adopted Smart Package Room package management system is used by multifamily residence/property and commercial customers across the country
by Ned Hill — In 2020, Amazon Logistics (the delivery arm of Amazon) delivered 4.2 billion parcel shipments, up from 1.9 billion in 2019. It now makes up, by volume, 21% of the parcel shipments in the U.S., behind the USPS (38%) and UPS (24%) but ahead of FedEx for the first time (16%). By contrast, in 2014, Amazon delivered just 20 million parcels. Given the strong increase in parcel shipments, it’s clear that there is a trend for in-home deliveries.
Post Covid-I9, there continues to be an increase in-home deliveries — from office supplies and dry cleaning to daily necessities such as groceries. This e-commerce convenience has become a property manager’s nightmare for those managing multifamily communities.
Case-in-point: According to the National Apartment Association, nearly 39 million people in the United States, almost 1 in 8, call apartments home. In addition, young adults ages 18 to 34 are the largest generational demographic group and are delaying homeownership and seeking rentals. These stats are creating a perfect storm of packages, being propelled by a fleet of couriers who now need to contend with a time management decision. Do they take an extra hour per building to hand deliver packages to each resident, or do they dump the packages in the lobby or in front of lockers for the concierge to deal with?
Resident package delivery adds to a concierge’s time to process and secure all these items—while still performing assigned duties. In addition, courier services do not have the time to provide “white-glove” delivery to every resident’s door. Unfortunately, this leaves large amounts of packages left unattended in unsecured lobby areas, which promotes the opportunity for theft. According to Swiftlane:
- 20% of tenants aren’t happy with the way their packages are handled by their property.
- 84% of tenants would like secure, self-serve, 24/7 package access.
When couriers and concierges collide
When a delivery person enters the lobby with a cart full of packages, immediately the doorman is asked to be in two places at once, e.g., storing packages in a back room and attending the door. Multiply the time a doorman allocates for one courier times multiple couriers per day, and the hours consumed by package management quickly add up. This is becoming a widely recognized problem among property managers.
Property managers are now turning to smart package room solutions instead of adding costs by increasing staff. This decision also helps couriers because they are not willing and, in many cases, unable to extend their delivery hours to accommodate a greater number of residential package deliveries. In addition, these solutions remove the couriers’ responsibility for packages left because they are instantly logged into the multifamily housing’s management system. Simply put, smart package room solutions simplify the process by automating the package delivery and reducing the processing time to 10 seconds instead of 30 minutes to perform door-to-door delivery.
Some managers have considered package lockers as a means to this conundrum but figuring out the right formula for lockers needed in apartment buildings is often flawed. As a rule of thumb, it’s 1.75 lockers multiplied by the number of packages delivered per day. However, this does not account for seasonality or that deliveries are increasing every day. Unfortunately, the overflow or packages that don’t fit into lockers is given to the concierge by the courier, leaving the courier/concierge issues unresolved.
A smarter package room solution
What is the best way to address the courier and property manager package issues? More multifamily owners are turning to the latest smart technology to handle package management growth and moving away from traditional locker systems that can’t scale for the future.
Smart package rooms eliminate the concierge interaction to manage items. In addition, couriers simply scan package labels at the entry kiosk to automatically assign packages and notify applicable residents immediately of the package’s arrival. Computer vision technology watches each package until residents scan their QR Codes, received via text or email, at the smart kiosk showing package location within the package room. Using laser guidance, the system provides visual and audio prompts to ensure the correct item is picked up or sound notification if the wrong package is selected.
Scanning package labels in a smart package room complement a courier’s daily requirements to digitally track items being delivered — if they can work a cell phone, they can use these systems. It’s the missing link in the courier logistics chain for last-mile apartment drop-off confirmation. Now instead of promoting lobby clutter or inefficient use of a concierge’s and courier’s time going floor to floor and door to door, a simple label scan unlocks an automated and secure method to protect tenants’ packages while also giving them the option to retrieve at their convenience, e.g., no more reminder calls from the concierge.
Lifestyle changes have altered how commerce is performed, and multifamily communities need to recognize this as an opportunity to improve package delivery and resident experiences. A lack of appropriate space and ineffective delivery systems are no longer acceptable for couriers’ last-mile package processing. Today, the smart package room joins the expected amenities of smart home technology and is the must-have lifestyle convenience. Many property owners recognize this evolution in package management and are now using smart package rooms to attract and retain residents.
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.