Getting More from Package Lockers

As more consumers have their packages shipped directly from online retailers, the influx of packages has put a strain on property managers responsible for accepting and holding deliveries year-round.

Ann Matheis

E-commerce has significantly impacted the American retail experience. According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, approximately 80 percent of U.S. adults are online shoppers and 15 percent make an online purchase on a weekly basis. Not surprisingly, this transition from brick-and-mortar shopping to at-home deliveries has caused shifts in the multifamily housing industry. As more consumers have their packages shipped directly from online retailers such as Amazon, Etsy and eBay, the influx of packages has put a strain on property managers and apartment staff responsible for accepting and holding deliveries year-round. Without a process in place, this can drain a property’s resources, cause congestion at concierge desks and make for frustrated residents when packages are misplaced or lost.

“The volume of packages coming to our properties has absolutely exploded,” said Jim Brady, vice president of property management at Castle Lanterra Properties. “Residents were lined up three to four deep, just to get their packages.”

The company recently implemented an automated package locker system to tackle the onslaught, which now frees up his onsite staff  to do more important jobs, such as leasing apartments. Multifamily operators who have implemented these systems say there’s more to lockers than just holding space, or freeing up staff time. Integrating those lockers into property management and access control systems, as well as granting—or being able to revoke and audit access is crucial to getting the most out of the room a property has. In addition, doing so helps gain insight into when, and how residents use this service, as well as other amenities.

Georgianna Oliver, CEO of Package Concierge

Georgianna Oliver, CEO of Package Concierge

“In business, if you’re not measuring it, you’re losing money. Different amenities go in and out of vogue and developers and designers struggle with that,” said Georgianna Oliver, CEO of Package Concierge. “But now, if you integrate them into your property management and access control systems, you can see that 80 percent of your residents use the lockers once a week, but that only 20 percent used the pool all of last year. You know what’s important to them.”

For example, apartment residents can use the same fob on the front entry door, Package Concierge’s automated package lockers, the fitness room, or the community theater. When they do, apartment operators can see, via logs in their property management and access control software, exactly how often residents use all the amenities tied to the fob.

In addition, just as a unified access control system ensures that only current residents can access the building or common areas, integrating amenities like package lockers means residents who have moved won’t take up valuable space with errant deliveries at their old address, since packages won’t be accepted for individuals who aren’t on the lease. For that reason, best practice is to link each amenity to a particular resident’s use versus binding it to an apartment, or in the case of package lockers, having a different access code for each package delivered.

“Amenities should be tied to the resident and not the unit. As much as you can make the experience of living at your property seamless for residents, it’s better for everyone,” said Oliver. “At this point, all the third-party technology vendors in the multifamily space know what they need to do to make it work. But what operators should do is hold their vendors accountable and tell them it’s required to integrate into this particular software or system. Everyone has to work together.”

From a technology perspective, the key to gaining that kind of insight comes from ensuring that the data in your property management system is accurate and up to date, with accurate emails and phone numbers for each resident on the lease, while insisting that different amenity providers work proactively with each other. By tying amenities like package lockers – and anything else—to your electronic access control system, you can get a leg up on a lot more than just the boxes that used to pile up in your lobby.

Ann Matheis is the marketing director, multifamily for Allegion. For more information, and to sign up for Allegion’s Multifamily newsletter, visit us.allegion.com/multifamily.