Amazon Key & Multifamily: What You Should Know

The new service will allow drivers to drop off packages inside a customer's house. Why this might be good news for your community.

jfiur thumbnailE-commerce is everywhere. In fact, according to a 2016 report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, nearly half of U.S. households have an Amazon Prime membership. And it has many benefits, most important of which is obviously the ability to buy things while wearing your pajamas. But, of course, there are some downsides as well. One of the issues is the fact that if people aren’t home to accept their packages, they are often left at the front door—making them susceptible to theft or damage from the elements (rain, snow, people tripping over them because they didn’t see it when they were trying to get into their house and then kicking them because they’re so angry).

But Amazon is trying to fix this. They’re launching a program called Amazon Key. Available to Prime members (currently only in certain cities), this will allow you to install a smart lock and camera to your doors so delivery people can drop the package off inside your home.

My first thought when hearing this was, of course, “Oh my god, we’re all going to get murdered!”

Then I calmed down and thought for a second. “Don’t be ridiculous,” I thought. “We’re probably not going to get murdered. Just robbed.”

However…

Call me Chicken Little, because I was also dubious when Foursquare and Facebook allowed people to check in to places. “People are going to know when we’re out of the house or on vacation! Why would anyone announce that?” And then I heard about Airbnb and Uber. “We’re just asking for it now!” I thought.

package deliveryObviously, I got over it. We all did.

That’s not to say criminals don’t take advantage of these systems. But, the benefits might outweigh the negatives in this case. Especially if the negatives are hypothetical.

For Amazon Key, the drivers are supposedly vetted. Customers have video access to who’s at their doors and can choose to let people in or not. Plus, it doesn’t have to be limited to deliveries. The service can be used to give cleaning services or other visitors access to a home without giving someone a key.

That actually sounds pretty good.

If your apartment community has a concierge or a package delivery system in place already (lockers, a mail room, etc.), then this new system might no even affect you. But if you don’t, this, or a similar remote-access system, might be something to consider for your residents. In addition to package delivery, it could be a good way to give maintenance access to units. Sometimes, the resident doesn’t know that someone is planning on doing work in their units, and it’s unnerving if they see things out of place when they come home.

And, for smaller communities where residents rely on a landlord to help out with an issue, this could alleviate the need for a renter to sit home all day waiting for someone to show up so they can let the person in. Instead, they’ll get an alert and can choose to unlock the door or not.

If you can’t include it in all units, or pay to reconfigure all the doors, it could be something you could install if residents request it—this could be a way to increase ancillary income in your community. And when those residents leave, that unit will have upgrades that can be included in the rent for the next renter.

After all, it’s not like we’re all of a sudden going to decide to put on jeans again to go shopping, so it’s not like the package delivery issue is going to go away anytime soon. So it’s certainly something to think about.

What do you think of this system? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Post your comments on our Facebook page or send a tweet to @MHNOnline or @jfiur.