As any multifamily property manager knows these days, package deliveries continue to pour into their communities. With the growing popularity of e-commerce, the parcel delivery market grew from $270 billion in 2015 to $300 billion last year, and it is expected grow by 20% annually over the next few years, according to the Parcel Delivery Services, Global Market Intelligence Report 2016. The surge is being further fueled by the impending explosion of online grocery shopping, which will not only add to the escalation, but increase the urgency of getting packages to residents quickly as well.

    As my colleague Mike Downey wrote, cities are dealing with the surge in parcel deliveries in different ways. Property managers know that such deliveries are manual-labor intensive, and distract their time away from managing their properties, serving residents and gathering new ones. Delivery errors and stolen packages only compound the problem for managers – and increase complaints by residents.

    An emerging solution to the package deluge is parcel lockers – electronic smart lockers that accept deliveries, notify recipients, and allow easy self-service pick-up around the clock. Despite their early success, many residents – and even property managers themselves – are unaware of them, their features, and how they work.

    Here are 6 things you (probably) didn’t know about parcel lockers:

    1.They’re high-tech: Package delivery locker systems are nothing like you might remember about your high school gym locker. Today’s parcel lockers combine modern software and hardware technologies to enable a smooth package delivery by couriers, who interact with the lockers with their existing handheld devices to assign the appropriate sized locker and the associated code that will open them. That code is automatically texted to the recipient’s mobile device of choice, who enters it into the locker to open the appropriate door to retrieve their package whenever they want – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    2.They work inside and outside: While many initial package locker implementations were installed in dedicated, indoor parcel locker rooms, other communities desired parcel lockers for an outdoor area. Fortunately, there are indoor and outdoor versions of parcel lockers available.

    3.They’re cool – literally: To address to oncoming growth of online grocery purchases, refrigerated lockers are the newest, coolest parcel locker technology available to accept and store perishable deliveries. These would include not only food (fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry, fish, dairy products, etc.), but beverages (milk, cream, and fruit or vegetable juices), pre-packaged meal kits (Blue Apron, Amazon Fresh), medications, flowers, and anything that might melt in the heat (cosmetics, wax items, plastics, toys, collectables).

    4.They report to property managers: Today’s advanced parcel lockers are able to track and report data back to property managers about their use. Such data, such as number and types of deliveries, as well as when packages are delivered and picked up, can help property managers align resources and optimize resident face time and revenue. Innovative package lockers even work with leading property management software packages (such as MRI, Entrata, and Yardi Systems) to provide data within these programs and to enable integrated reporting and analysis.

    5.Residents love them: While property managers love the immediate reduction in package management activities, residents are responding equally enthusiastically to their use. Several communities who have conducted before and after resident satisfaction surveys report that package lockers are receiving the highest satisfaction scores on record. Many residents report that they never even knew of package lockers before using them, but recognize the pain point only after such lockers were installed.

    6.They can help keep and attract residents: By providing convenient package lockers that are popular with residents, overall satisfaction can serve as a positive influence when it comes time for apartment renewals. In addition, package lockers can serve as a popular feature that adds extra appeal to potential new residents.

    Parcel lockers are indeed turning the negative of receiving too many incoming packages, into a positive of better serving – and even delighting – residents. They are a proven, emerging solution to a certain consumer trend: that growth of online shopping will be keeping packages pouring into multi-family communities for years to come.

    Rob Jensen is a guest blogger for Parcel Pending, a leading provider of package management solutions to simplify and secure the parcel delivery business. Visit www.parcelpending.comfor more information.

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