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How Can Multifamily Communities Keep Up With The Package Onslaught?

Online deliveries are overwhelming multifamily property managers.

The package rooms in multifamily buildings have already been stressed by a spike in e-commerce orders, and that growth is unlikely to slow down any time soon. 

2020 was a banner year for package delivery. As Americans avoided stores and moved to online ordering for groceries, clothing and everyday needs, the number of packages arriving at multifamily communities rose dramatically. Overall package volume coming into multifamily buildings increased 27% from 2019 to 2020, according to Package Concierge, a package locker and management provider. As the U.S. went into lockdowns during Q2 2020, year-over-year package growth hit a record-high 31%.

Even as businesses reopen, American ordering habits seem to have changed for good. Package Concierge reports that year-over-year growth in deliveries were still at 20% in 2021, despite storms that knocked out deliveries in the Northeast and Texas earlier this year. 

“Ordering levels have not dropped,” Package Concierge’s Donna Logback said. “We continue to maintain steady levels that rival normal holiday levels.”

A smart locker system from Package Concierge.

Many property management companies whose package rooms were built with pre-pandemic delivery levels in mind have been strained by the growing influx of packages. Most have limited space for storing and distributing packages. Plus, their employees now have to allocate additional time to accepting a constant stream of parcel deliveries on behalf of tenants while also notifying residents of their package arrivals.

The situation has tested every management firm’s resources, Logback said, but it also presents an opportunity to deliver greater value to existing tenants and lure new tenants with additional amenities.

Management companies that want to streamline the package pickup process for tenants and free up staff time to handle other resident needs can turn to access-controlled lockers and package rooms that run on proprietary software combined with carrier-agnostic locker systems to provide tenants with 24/7 retrieval and contactless delivery.

With so many residents working from home and on-site around the clock, residents have demanded more from their buildings and building ownership. A national survey of multifamily residents conducted by Zogby Analytics in December, commissioned by Package Concierge, found that apartment dwellers are re-evaluating their rental priorities. Of those residents actively searching for a new apartment, 91% said that amenities play a factor in their apartment search, while 43% of those who are not actively looking for a new apartment say that home amenities will play a role in renewing their current apartment lease.

However, not all amenities hold the same sway for current and future tenants. Among those that lessees consider key are smart home devices such as temperature control and digital locks as well as gym and recreational sports facilities, pet services and package management systems.

A smart locker system from Package Concierge.

“Last year, people spent more time in their homes than ever before, so finding a place to live that incorporates critical amenities is top of mind for everyone in 2021,” Logback said. “Renters have grown to expect secure and convenient package management solutions like smart package lockers and access controlled package rooms as a critical must-have amenity when deciding on a place to live.”

It isn’t simply the fact that consumers are doing more of their shopping online that has caused them to prioritize their building’s package handling. The increase in package arrivals has also overwhelmed a lot of building managers, leading to disorganization, lost packages, restrictive windows of time when tenants can retrieve their packages, lag times in delivery notifications and a lack of social distancing and safety measures. In properties that accept and deliver the packages for the residents, it takes on average five minutes to accept, log, store and deliver the package to the resident. That can become hours per day that building staff is spending to manage package deliveries.

These issues are affecting multifamily property management across the board. From buildings with high student occupancies and no full-time management on-site and multi-tower residences with a single, central leasing office where packages are delivered to more boutique buildings with limited units and a small leasing office with limited staff and limited storage space, there’s no one segment within the multifamily sector that’s free from the issue.

Frustrated residents expect solutions, and multifamily management companies are responding. Some property management firms have already upgraded how they handle package deliveries since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Some have hired more staff to manage the package flow. But even more have implemented new technology and new systems in order to improve package handling.

Among respondents to Package Concierge’s survey, 36% reported that their properties had changed their package management solution, and 66% said they were satisfied with how their properties now handled package management.

“Of the issues that renters are citing with their current package management solution, a comprehensive package locker and room system solves for every single one,” Logback said. 
“So, the resident who just ordered four new snow tires and the resident who received their new textbook can both be accommodated.”

This article was produced in collaboration between Package Concierge and Studio B. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.

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