Special Delivery

By on Dec 4, 2014 in News

More than 37 million U.S. apartment reshutterstock_159698678sidents receive enormous numbers of holiday packages every year. A load that large requires more than mere tracking numbers. For that reason, one in four apartment communities use specialized software to manage residents’ packages on site.

These are among the findings from the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) and Kingsley Associates’ 2014 Package Delivery Survey. The survey was fielded in October of this year, with 2,758 community managers from 28 leading firms responding.

The survey also found that during the holiday season, a typical apartment community can receive double the typical 100 packages received weekly. After all, consumers spent $2.3 billion on Cyber Monday in 2013 alone.

In more than three-quarters (77 percent) of apartment buildings surveyed, package carriers try to deliver to the door, as opposed to going to the manager’s office, but the number drops to one in five (20 percent) in high rises.

If residents aren’t in, carriers take packages to the management office 70 percent of the time. This results in an enormous number of packages for the community manager to handle.

“Managing deliveries is a real issue facing the industry,” says David Smith, chief operating officer and vice president, San Francisco-based Kingsley Associates. “There is inherent risk and valuable time associated with sorting, storing and notifying residents of package deliveries at the community level. Senior executives are clearly taking note of the escalating staff hours spent managing the process, particularly during the holidays.”

Many apartment companies are increasingly adopting software solutions to help them get a handle on packages. Almost one-quarter, or 24 percent, of properties utilize software to track packages and notify residents.

Among high-rise apartment communities, 60 percent are relying on specialized software.

Apartment managers are as likely to notify residents by text or email (26 percent) as via phone. In 18 percent of the cases, old-school approaches like notifying residents through means of paper notices are employed.

Approximately 9 percent of apartment managers are using a new approach, that being a locker system permitting residents to pick up deliveries on their own schedules. “When you receive 200 or 300 packages a week, it puts tremendous pressure on the staff to manage the influx of deliveries,” says Rick Haughey, vice president of industry technology initiatives for Washington, D.C.-based NMHC.

“And with 90 percent of retail sales still taking place in brick-and-mortar buildings, we’re only at the tip of the iceberg in terms of e-commerce,” Haughey continues. “Moving forward, we’ll see more use of technology and automation that not only manages the volume but gives the residents flexibility. Online shopping and technologies like instant streaming put the control in the consumers’ hands. Picking up your packages will ultimately be no different.”

This post originally appeared in Multi-Housing News.