By Mike Ratliff, Senior Associate Editor
When I rented my first apartment six years ago, not a single thought was given to how packages were delivered. At the time I actually had a P.O. Box and every once in a long while would get some cookies in the mail. Four years ago when I first moved to New York, we had a package room on the other side of our tenement-style building open between 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Not very convenient for us working folk, but I still didn’t receive packages very often.
Fast forward to today, where almost all of my shopping—aside from groceries—is done online. I seriously don’t know how I used to shop. Here is a log of items I have received since Tuesday, February 25:
- 1 Book (Principles of Commercial Real Estate Finance, published by the MBA.)
- 1 pair of Volcom chino shorts (These were on sale, and I hope it will be warm enough to wear them at some point in my lifetime.)
- 1 pair of 7mm surf booties (If you haven’t heard, we are having a cold winter here in New York.)
- 1 ‘Pro’ 2000-Watt hairdryer (My wife is a very talented hair colorist.)
- 1 pair of New Balance cross trainers (These are actually a size too big and are being exchanged, no questions asked. Thanks Amazon Prime.)
The point I am trying to make is that e-commerce has changed the way I, and pretty much everyone I know, shops. Finding these items in a store within walking distance is not possible even within New York City. (O.K., so I could have probably found everything aside from the surf booties and real estate book, but that would have taken an entire afternoon.)
We have a doorman who is in charge of receiving the packages, entering them into the building’s management system, and organizing them on a rack. Residents receive an alert via email or on the flat screen in the lobby, and we come down, let the doorman know we have a package, and sign for it. This is a great system, and I couldn’t be happier. This is, however, a lot of work for the doorman, who is usually logging in and distributing all the packages while the residents are returning home from work and food delivery men are showing up with dinner.
This is where a system like Package Concierge could simplify things. The full service, 24/7 package locker solution for apartment and student housing assets really is designed for the e-commerce generation. The secure, digital locker system has a special log-in for the delivery carrier, who then scans packages at the kiosk and places them into a locker. Residents are notified they have a package via a text or email. They can then enter in the sent passcode, or scan an RFID fob to retrieve their goodies. Simple as that. The lockers feature durable steel doors, a 24/7 camera and manual override for apartment management in case of an emergency.
This system can save some serious time and money. According to Package Concierge, a typical 250-unit property will process more than 20,000 packages each year. That’s more than 50 packages per day, a number that is only expected to increase. This translates into roughly 20 man hours per week for apartment staff.
To get a bit more information on how the lockers work, please read our Q&A with Barry Hume, co-founder and president of Package Concierge, below:
MHN: Where did the idea for Package Concierge first come from?
Hume: After hearing from colleagues in property management about the growing amount of time and energy being spent on handling packages, we decided to look at the problem more closely. There was no one in the U.S. providing a complete solution—and certainly no one focused specifically on the multifamily housing space. So after considering several options, including dynamic storage systems and carousels, we settled on designing a locker system. We started out manufacturing our system in China, but we quickly realized that quality would be an issue. We are now thrilled to be manufacturing our system in the U.S.
MHN: What kind of ROI are communities looking at with Package Concierge?
There’s an initial hardware cost for the lockers and an ongoing access fee. Management decides whether to include the cost of the lockers in an amenity fee or to charge an initial registration fee to residents. Depending on the fee structure and the potential to cut labor costs, the payback period can be as little as 12 months. Even when not reducing headcount, there is also value in freeing up staff to focus on other services for residents.
MHN: Can you tell us a bit about the space requirements for installation?
Hume: Our smallest standard solution is 7 feet wide and the largest is 13 feet wide. One of the benefits of our system is that it is modular—so we can customize it to accommodate any space, including “L” and “U” shaped configurations.
MHN: How many properties are you currently serving?
Hume: We have several pilots in Washington, D.C., Boston and the New York area with some of the largest management companies in the U.S., including Riverstone, Equity Residential, Bozzuto and Winn Residential.
MHN: How do you expect the growth of e-commerce to impact the popularity of Package Concierge?
Hume: The growth in online shopping is happening for all of us. While lockers for package pick-ups are common in other countries, they are just now becoming important in the U.S. We expect e-commerce growth to increase demand for these kinds of systems. As we grow our business and residents become increasingly accustomed to having this kind of amenity, we expect them to be asking about it when looking at their rental options.