Apartment blocks and other managed rental properties around the country are experiencing an upsurge in delivered parcels. The convenience of online shopping, together with benefits like free and next-day delivery, has led to a rise in the volume of packages delivered on a daily basis.
It’s a situation that’s become more acute with people spending more time at home as a result of the ongoing shut down of many retail shops, businesses and restriction to travel. Online shopping, already a popular option, has become a mainstay for many. What’s more, there has been a shift in the handling of parcels and packages, with new pressure for reduced-contact deliveries.
For most forms of managed properties, evolving trends in parcel management create a number of issues. Processes and systems are having to be adapted to deal with changes in the type and volume of incoming mail. Without a clear parcel management strategy, problems can occur, and residents may be dissatisfied.
In unmanned apartment blocks, couriers may be unable to access buildings, leading to missed deliveries or parcels being left in unsecured locations. Where access is possible, parcels can build up in unattended reception areas causing obstructions and security issues.
On the other hand, where apartment blocks do have concierges or other on-site staff, they may find themselves burdened with the responsibility of both securing parcels and tracking down residents to make final deliveries. It’s a manual approach to an issue that has arisen in the digital age.
For this reason, all forms of property companies are turning to technology for a solution. Electronic track and trace of parcels with secure storage that’s available to residents 24/7 to collect their parcels with minimal interaction helps alleviate issues with inbound parcel management, without recourse to an increase in staffing and storage space.
A growing problem
The volume of parcels continues to grow. One report cites a total 2.6 billion items (2018-19) in the UK[i] while another reveals that 87 per cent of internet users had bought or ordered goods or services over the internet in the prior 12 months[ii]. The challenge now is how customers take final delivery of their purchases.
Some online retailers offer collection from self-service locker hubs. This can help unite parcel and shopper, provided the hub is conveniently located and the customer is prepared to travel to it. However, this service is most likely limited to deliveries from the retailers’ own outlet, so the problem of receiving parcels purchased elsewhere remains.
Technology Provides For A Better Experience
Technology is having an increasing influence in real estate, as in all industries. New roles within the industry focused on technology may help smooth the way for innovations that benefit both property management companies and residents.
NMHC notes that the apartment industry is moving away from manual forms of package handling, such as notices on doors and phone calls alerting residents to the fact they have a package to collect, in favour of electronic notifications. Over three-quarters (77%) of buildings now have, it states: “a dedicated space for package storage with package lockers being the preferred method among respondents.”[iii]
Simple, secure and convenient
Such a solution removes the need for alternative – less satisfactory – delivery options (such as returning the parcel to depot, leaving it with a neighbour or depositing it in a subjectively ‘safe’ place). For staff in managed residential properties, it alleviates the responsibility of storing parcels and trying to track down recipients. For the customer, getting hold of their delivery is stress-free and there’s no more guesswork about where their parcel is.
Instead of leaving a parcel in a reception area where it could go missing or placing the burden of delivery on staff in residential properties, the item is placed in a secure on-site, parcel locker. The resident receives a notification that they have a parcel waiting for them, along with a unique PIN and barcode. The resident then collects their parcel from the locker located conveniently in a communal area in the building at a time that suits them, without the need for property staff to be present. They simply enter the code via a touchscreen or scan the barcode to open the relevant locker.
As shoppers make an ever-greater proportion of their purchases online, it’s important to them to know that receiving their parcels will be simple and convenient and, for now at least, that they don’t necessarily have to come into direct contact with anyone to receive them. In this way, well-managed deliveries become a selling point to prospective new tenants of apartment blocks and a reason to stay for existing ones.
[i] Ofcom: ‘Annual monitoring update on the postal market, Financial year 2018-19’
[ii] ‘E-commerce statistics for individuals’
[iii] NMHC: ‘Special Delivery: 2018 NMHC/Kingsley Package Delivery Report’, 14 November 2018