Online shopping has surged with hundreds of millions of Americans sheltering at home, bringing issues of package delivery front and center for many multifamily operators. Multi-Housing News hosted a 30-minute “Snap Session” webinar last week with ButterflyMX Founder Cyrus Claffey, Amazon Business Development Leader Kent Woodyard and CA Management CEO Steven Boyack to discuss how to manage property access, deliveries and operations during a pandemic that has led many real estate professionals to work remotely or adhere to strict social distancing guidelines.
“Property access has gone from enabling resident convenience to ensuring resident safety,” said Claffey, whose company provides remote-based access control technology such as smart intercoms. “Some of our built-in security functionality such as video calling has seen a five-time usage rate increase in the last four weeks alone. On-site staff are using it to see and speak with visitors.”
Prompted by concerns about hygiene, residents have begun to use touchless door opening functionality via mobile apps—rather than keys, key fobs or pins, according to Claffey. There is also huge demand for package room solutions that ensure access to deliveries without the involvement of building staff.
Woodyard noted that Amazon has Hub Lockers—secure, self-service kiosks for the company’s packages—in almost 4,000 properties around the country, plus another 8,000 retail lockers in front of stores such as Whole Foods. E-commerce has transformed from a convenient way to shop to “more of a public utility almost, an essential lifeline,” as many brick-and-mortar retailers have shut their doors,” he said.
Unattended package lockers have become critical as people practice social distancing, he added. “Working with Butterfly, we’re able to offer access to the building and then access to these lockers where the packages are ultimately delivered without requiring any human touch or point of contact.”
Managing an influx of boxes
Boyack observed that CA Management, which manages both student housing and multifamily properties, is seeing a jump in package deliveries ranging from 50 to 150 percent across the portfolio. “Residents being home has really helped in our ability to manage tremendous increase in input,” he said.
Food deliveries are also up by about 60 percent, he added. The crush of deliveries means that packages are being managed not only through package rooms and lockers but also amenity spaces being used as triage areas.
“Packages are now being scheduled for pickup so we can make sure there’s not any large groups coming at one time,” Boyack said. The parcels can then be sanitized and handed to residents to take back to their homes.
“We finally have an ecosystem that’s formed between all kinds of proptech companies,” Claffey commented. “Technology systems—lockers, package rooms, front entrance, smart intercom, IT-based access control—people are employing it in a way they’ve never done before. They’re seeing the value there. This is only going to accelerate going forward.”
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