Each year, as the leaves begin to change and the holidays approach, ads for online shopping and massive sales begin to invade of our email inboxes and take over television commercials. Yet, many mailrooms, including those at apartment complexes, offices and universities, are not equipped to deal with the influx of parcels that results from our online holiday shopping. According to a NMHC/Kinsley survey, a typical apartment community receives as many as 100 packages per week, which can nearly double during the holidays.

Today, many online retailers offer cheap, fast and convenient delivery options that make it extremely easy for people to do a huge amount of their shopping online, from their phones, tablets, and even work computers.

But this convenience on the customer side has made package management for mailrooms that much more challenging. For instance, as Business Insider noted, Amazon Prime’s two-day shopping for students is “wreaking havoc on college mailrooms” and forcing mailrooms to reevaluate their strategies. In fact, the survey also states, nearly ¼ of properties are seeking technology solutions to fix a problem that will only continue to grow, both in and outside of the holiday season.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Forrester Research expects U.S. online retail sales to increase from $263 billion in 2013 to $334 billion by the end of 2015. Clearly mail operations need a solution – and they need it now.

To help mailrooms put real solutions in place to manage the influx in packages during the holidays, we’ve compiled some top tips to help optimize mailroom operations.

· Identify The Source: Large universities and apartment complexes generally have smaller scale and very limited mailroom operations, making it difficult to keep up with sorting through packages for on-site staff. Identifying and targeting the sources of bottlenecks can enable you to plan and prepare for heightened periods of incoming mail. Pinpointing whether it’s a lack of physical space, problems with return mail, lack of organization, or a combination of the three will help you get on track to plan next steps.

· Develop A Custom Solution: After you’ve identified the problem, create a centralized custom solution tailored to your facility. For instance, at Novitex, we help clients set up solutions like “Intelligent Lockers,” which generate specific codes, notify recipients and allow them to pick up packages whenever is convenient for them. Taking advantage of new technological solutions, such as Intelligent Lockers and “Intelligent Mail” – which uses barcoding and data reporting to give you full visibility into your mailstream – can make a huge impact on the productivity and efficiency of your mailroom

· Mitigate Risk during Peak Delivery: To avoid lost packages or damage when your mailroom is at its busiest, implement new technologies and draw on the experience of experts. For example, “Digital Mailroom” operations allow incoming mail to be scanned and delivered electronically, keeping the process streamlined and reducing costs incurred from rerouting mail. Experts can also help you navigate export compliance and standardize a shipping and receiving program to avoid delays and reduce losses as well as penalties. You can event tap outside experts to handle all mailroom operations, which can increase productivity and cut back on costs.

Once you’ve put the necessary measures in place to handle the rush of packages, stay alert to make sure your processes are working and your team is firing on all cylinders. The holidays may be challenging in terms of mailroom management, but with these tips, you can start to avoid the “bah humbug” moments and enjoy the season of giving!

Christine J. Erna, Six Sigma Green Belt, AQS, MDP, is Senior Postal Solutions Architect, Novitex. Contact her at christine.erna@novitex.com.