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The Costly Loss Of Parcel Deliveries In Residential Blocks Can Be Solved


Parcels have become a big problem in residential apartment blocks and managed estates. Property managers are being forced to take responsibility for growing volumes of parcels each day, carriers are struggling to get parcels to the right location and many residents are claiming they don't receive parcels at all.

“Solutions do exist,” Quadient Commercial Director Bren Standell said. “Property managers need to be innovative and look to smart technology to find new ways of working that can cope with levels of parcel deliveries that are only set to increase.”

The volume of parcels delivered in the UK is increasing year on year, fuelled by the growth in online retail. From 2018 to 2019 volumes increased by 10% to reach 2.6 billion items according to Ofcom. The global coronavirus pandemic and lockdown period have caused an even greater increase. From March to June, Royal Mail said it shipped 117 million more parcels than during the same quarter in 2019.

Arguably, the UK’s parcel delivery system is struggling to handle such a rapid increase. Citizens Advice Bureau said that problems with parcels cost consumers at least £85M a year. Problems include parcels being left in an insecure location, delivery instructions being ignored and parcels arriving late or not at all. For residential property managers, poor parcel management leads to several problems, according to Standell.

“The first is too many parcels for a property manager in a high-rise block to handle, which leads to worsening relationships with residents,” he said. “Carriers might ask a manager to sign one proof of delivery for multiple parcels, which can easily be mislaid. The resident then can’t find the parcel but has proof of delivery, which leads to conflict between the resident and the property manager.”

Standell reported that Quadient, which supplies smart lockers, is increasingly hearing that carriers are relinquishing the need for a signature at all under pressure to meet parcel delivery targets. Parcels are being left in lobbies, outside and piling up in post rooms.

“A second challenge for property managers is time,” Standell said. “A property manager always has key performance indicators, such as resident satisfaction, growing rental and service charge revenues and ensuring smooth operation of the building. They need to be able to provide an exceptional living experience to meet those KPIs and maintain the opportunity to retain the building management contract into the long term. If the on-site team has its time monopolised by parcel management, however, they will struggle to maintain the important high levels of service to ensure resident satisfaction.”

Parcel carriers themselves are struggling with the growing mass of deliveries. For example, Standell said that some property managers are now refusing to take deliveries at all, leaving it up to the delivery driver to locate the right apartment and liaise with the resident to make sure someone is at home. The carrier’s client, a retailer, for example, could be impacted by delayed or misplaced parcels.

“Carriers are trying to recruit more staff to help ease deliveries and meet targets, but it’s not easy,” Standell said. “Hermes recently announced it is intending to hire 10,000 more staff in an effort to cope with the increased volume of parcel and package traffic.”  


Deliveries Can Be Smarter

As with many challenges created by evolving lifestyles, one answer to the parcel challenge can be found in the tech world. Smart lockers are becoming more prevalent in residential apartment blocks, managed estates and managed commercial buildings.

“Smart parcel lockers are secure, fire safety rated, can be accessed 24/7 and are easy to use, all aspects that residents, employees and other consumers value highly,” Standell said. “They remove the risk of parcels being lost and stolen by recording every entry of a parcel and when the recipient collects it in a completely audited process. The parcel is hidden from sight until it is collected by the recipient, which is particularly important if the contents [are] something sensitive like a credit card. If that were stolen, it could be considered personal data theft and there could be liabilities in terms of GDPR or personal information violation.”

Smart lockers aren’t new for 2020. Amazon introduced its smart lockers several years ago and their rollout has been gradual. Quadient started deploying smart lockers globally 10 years ago, with the benefit that they are agnostic. They can be used by all carriers, many of which are increasingly getting on board with the strategy of consolidated final mile deliveries, Standell reported.

Today, the contactless nature of smart lockers is particularly welcome for all those involved in the chain. When a parcel is delivered to a Quadient smart locker, the recipient receives a notification either by text, email or within the Quadient Smart Locker app. They can open the locker by typing in a code, using Bluetooth on their phone or by scanning a barcode. The process is similarly touch-free for the carrier.

For property managers that rely so heavily on excellent relationships with residents, finding a way to get parcels to them effectively is a priority. With smart lockers, the manager can have minimal or no involvement; once the lockers are installed, the passing of parcels can lie directly between the carrier and the recipient at any time.

The UK’s entire logistics sector is still going through change as online sales have increased gradually and retailers struggle to compete with the offer of same-day delivery. Anything that can be done to ease the final steps of a parcel’s journey will surely be welcomed. 

This feature was produced by the Bisnow Branded Content Studio in collaboration with Quadient. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.