Smart package processing rooms ease commercial property operations

Posted On November 30, 2022

Originally Posted at Smart Building Technology

The pandemic-inspired e-commerce boom has created an increasing glut of packages now landing in apartments and multi-family lobbies. But smart package processing rooms with smart shelving hold an answer for property managers.

The COVID pandemic has altered our mindset from window shopping to shopping via Windows on laptops. Couple this with Amazon’s zero-cost shipping fees, and the U.S. has created an e-commerce boom. However, convenience sometimes comes with growing pains, and e-commerce has created a glut of packages now landing in apartments and multi-family lobbies.

The lack of appropriate space for all these packages is no longer acceptable for couriers’ last-mile package processing — nor is it OK for concierges to bear the burden of securing and distributing them.

Today, the intelligent package room joins the expected amenities of smart home technology and is rapidly becoming a “must-have” lifestyle convenience. Many property owners recognize this evolution in package management, and are now using intelligent package rooms with smart shelving to ease concierge burdens as well as to attract and retain residents.

When couriers and concierges collide

U.S.-based apartment and multi-family residents have pivoted their shopping preferences from in-store purchases to online shopping. Multi-Housing News reported that in 2019, “apartment communities were charged with holding and handing off packages to more than 39 million apartment residents.”

And during the period between 2019 and 2021, the volume of packages per renter dramatically increased, as the 2022 NMHC/Grace Hill Renter Preferences Survey Report confirmed, in stating:

“The share of renters who received two or fewer packages per month dropped from 45 percent in 2019 to just 24 percent this round, while the share who received three or more packages per month increased from 55 percent to 76 percent over the two-year period.”

Delivering all these packages to residents puts an enormous burden on concierge services.

When a courier enters an apartment lobby with a cart full of packages, the concierge has to be in two places at once, e.g., storing packages in a back room, and attending to the door. This added concierge stress occurs because courier services do not provide “white-glove” delivery to every resident’s door.

Multiply the time a concierge allocates to process one courier delivery by multiple courier deliveries per day, and the hours consumed by package management quickly add up.

It’s Amazon’s world

Many multi-family units were not originally designed to process and secure large amounts of packages. In the past, these facility managers could store and notify residents of deliveries because the volume of packages was few.

However, the advent of Amazon Prime’s free delivery, and the wide variety of inventory, from food items to furniture, has made it easy and economical for residents to “click and purchase.”

In 2020, Amazon Logistics, the delivery arm of Amazon, delivered 4.2 billion parcel shipments, up from 1.9 billion in 2019.

Fast-forward to now, and Amazon Logistics makes up 21% of the parcel shipments in the U.S. by volume, behind the USPS (38%) and UPS (24%) — but, for the first time, ahead of FedEx.

Smart shelving cuts costs

Property managers are turning to intelligent package processing rooms with smart shelving solutions instead of adding costs by increasing concierge staff hours to address the package processing issue.

Intelligent package rooms eliminate concierge processing because couriers automatically scan package labels at the room’s entry kiosk to assign them to residents.

Once the courier places a package on a shelf in the room, computer vision technology watches each item until residents retrieve it by scanning a QR Code (automatically sent to them via text or email) to unlock the room.

Once in an intelligent package room, laser pointers and audio prompts guide them to the correct package or provide sound notification if the wrong item is taken.

An intelligent package room solution simplifies the courier’s process by automating package delivery and reducing the processing time to 10 seconds from 30 minutes to perform door-to-door delivery.

Now, instead of promoting lobby clutter or inefficient use of a concierge’s time, a simple label scan unlocks an automated and secure method to protect residents’ packages, while also giving them the option to retrieve items 24/7.

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