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How to choose the right apartment package management system

Learn how to choose the best apartment package management system for your multifamily communities, and consider the pros and cons of the four most popular methods. 

What are the pros and cons of apartment package management systems?

With so many people relying on online shopping these days, managing package deliveries is probably a major chore for your on-site teams. Even before the pandemic hit, and residents didn’t worry about venturing into a store, packages crowded the mailrooms and offices in your communities. And now, while people are avoiding trips to the store, the problem is snowballing.

Luckily, package deliveries don’t have to burden your staff. Or be an inconvenience for your residents. There are multiple systems for managing apartment packages that streamline the process. If you’re looking, there are four apartment package management systems to help you handle deliveries at your community:

  1. Package management apps
  2. Package locker systems
  3. Smart package rooms
  4. Package delivery services

Unpacking Multifamily Package Management Solutions

Check out our new free guide for guidelines on choosing the right package management solution for your multifamily community.

Apartment Package Management Apps

An excellent starting point to automate package management is with resident experience management apps. These apps speed up the process of logging-in packages. They also automate resident notifications. Since this is one of the most time-consuming aspects of managing packages, an app can save on-site teams a lot of time.

How apartment package management apps work:

  1. Carriers deliver packages to the community office
  2. On-site teams use the scan in functionality on their app to read package labels
  3. Scanners automatically trigger a push notification to the resident
  4. Resident retrieves their package from the community office
  5. On-site associates logs the package as being delivered

Benefits of package management apps

  1. Faster for on-site teams: Notifying residents about their deliveries is especially time-consuming. Package management apps take this step entirely off their plate.
  2. Improves documentation of packages: A paper-based tracking system is not ideal for packages. Apps digitize the process for better record-keeping.
  3. Cost-effective: Apps allow you to automate part of the package management process at a much lower cost than lockers or smart package rooms.
  4. Residents can use them to manage other apartment-related tasks: Community apps are multifunctional. Residents can pay rent, submit work orders, and register guests all through the same app.

Drawbacks of package management apps

  1. Residents still need face-to-face interaction with on-site teams: Residents who come in to pick up their package will still need to claim them from an on-site associate.
  2. On-site associates still have to log packages: Even though you will be removing the time-consuming step of notifications, associates still need to scan packages upon arrival.

Apartment package management lockers

The biggest pain points of package management – processing time, storage space, and resident convenience – can be tackled with the help of package lockers. NMHC’s 2019 Package Delivery Survey reported that 57% of property managers think that package lockers, like LuxerOne and ParcelPending, are the best apartment package management system.

How apartment package management locker systems work

  1. Carriers (e.g. UPS) bring packages to the package locker location
  2. Carrier uses easy scan-in functionality to add packages to lockers which automatically triggers an email/text to be sent to the resident
  3. Residents receive a notification of their package arrival and a secure access code
  4. Residents retrieve packages using their access code

Benefits of apartment package management lockers

  1. No work for on-site teams: Package lockers that are built for multifamily communities save on-site teams from logging in a package and notifying residents.
  2. Security: Lockers offer secure storage for packages until residents are ready for them to be claimed. And because they have a one-time access code for each package, it prevents residents from opening a locker if they don’t have an item to claim.
  3. Contactless: When social distancing is still a necessity, package lockers eliminate face-to-face contact between community managers and residents.
  4. Convenience: Lockers allow residents to retrieve their deliveries on their own time and without the assistance of a community manager.
  5. Accommodates temperature-sensitive packages: Some package locker systems offer units that can be refrigerated.

Drawbacks of apartment package lockers

  1. Cost: Package lockers are an investment. Luckily, there are options to lease lockers if you are not able to pay for them all at once, which is what many companies opt to do.
  2. Space intensive: Even though they come in a variety of sizes, you’ll need to allocate quite a bit of space for each unit. Some companies find they fit best outdoors. This allows them to move packages out of the office.
  3. May not accommodate all oversized items: There are many configurations that allow room for oversized items. But you never know how big some packages will be. Or if you’ll have enough oversized lockers to accommodate larger items.

Smart package rooms

Like lockers, smart package rooms also relieve on-site teams from processing deliveries. With this apartment package management system, a carrier arrives and places all of the community’s packages into one secure room. The room is run through an access control system that lets residents claim their packages on their own schedule. But the catch is that they are only granted access when there is a package waiting for them. Video surveillance with access logs maintains security and accountability.

How smart package rooms work

  1. Carriers (e.g: UPS) bring packages into the building
  2. Carrier uses easy scan-in functionality to add packages to a secure, locked room within the apartment complex
  3. Residents receive a notification of their package arrival and a secure access code
  4. Residents enter in the secure access code to a tablet stationed outside the package room, which unlocks the door and grants access to the room

Benefits of smart package rooms

  1. No work for on-site teams: Smart package rooms automatically generate notifications for residents and let them retrieve them without burdening community associates.
  2. Cost-effective: Due to its simplistic nature, package rooms are about half the cost of a locker system
  3. Contactless: Like lockers, smart package rooms eliminate face-to face contact between residents and community managers
  4. Convenience for residents: Residents can pick up their packages at any time, without needing assistance from a community manager

Drawbacks of smart package rooms

  1. Space intensive: Smart package rooms need a large amount of consolidated space that may not be available at your communities.
  2. Less secure than package lockers: In smart package rooms, every parcel is openly displayed in one room. Even though there is a digital paper trail and video footage of who comes and goes, ultimately it’s residents can take packages that don’t belong to them. For residents who are concerned about security, smart package rooms may not be appealing.
  3. Temperature-sensitive packages still need appropriate storage: Within your smart package room, you’ll need to determine where perishable items will be stored. Some companies buy refrigerated lockers that go inside their smart package room.

Third-party package management and delivery

What if your on-site teams never had to spend another minute managing packages? That’s the goal for some property management companies.

In the past few years, third-party package delivery companies have become popular. Their approach to managing packages offsite and directly delivering to residents is appealing to some.

How outsourced package management works

  1. An apartment community partners with a package delivery partner.
  2. Residents order their packages to be delivered to these companies office – not their home address
  3. The package is delivered to the company and residents receive a notification
  4. Residents schedule when they would like the company to deliver the package to them (often nights or weekends)
  5. The company delivers the package to residents

Benefits of third-party package management and delivery

  • Residents get packages delivered to their door: The biggest advantage for residents is that they do not have to make a stop into the community office each time they have a delivery. They can schedule it to arrive at a time they will be home.
  • No resources needed to devote to package management: Since packages are delivered to an offsite location, on-site teams don’t spend time logging deliveries or notifying residents. There’s also no need for communities to have separate space for packages.

Drawbacks of third-party package management and delivery

  • Added cost for residents: While they are getting white-glove service with their deliveries, it costs residents. Many are irritated to pay for something that’s considered an expected amenity.
  • Confusing for residents: Residents have to use an outside address to ship their packages to. This causes confusion, and sometimes adds a delay. Packages that are accidentally marked with their home address are usually returned to the sender.
  • Slower delivery times: Remember, residents expect a fast turnaround on packages. Inserting a middle man adds time to the delivery process. And as mentioned above, if they accidentally use their home address, the package gets returned.
  • On-site teams cannot help when issues arise: While some companies like their on-site teams to be hands-off, this is problematic if a problem arises with the delivery company. And, it can lead residents to become unhappy with their community’s package policy. On-site teams have no insight into deliveries, leaving residents to fend for themselves.
  • Potentially unstable solution: Package delivery companies are fairly new businesses. However, several have gone out of business in a short period of time. So there is a chance you may not have a long-term solution.

Tips for picking the right apartment package management system

Clearly, there are several options for apartment package management systems. So how do you determine what will be the best fit? Here are some things to ask yourself as you weigh the options.

Will the apartment package management system accommodate the number of units?

More units inevitably mean more packages. So an automated process makes the most sense to alleviate manual work for on-site teams. Lockers, smart package rooms, and in some cases, package delivery companies can all be a good fit for large communities.

How does it impact the resident experience?

Since receiving a package is now an everyday part of life, you want it to be a frictionless process for your resident. Here are some questions to ask yourself. Will it be convenient? Does it keep packages safe? Do residents get timely notifications?

Will the benefits justify the cost?

Depending on what you choose, there will be some upfront costs (software, equipment, etc). If, in the end, it’s saving your on-site teams time and residents are happy, then it’s probably worth the investment. You might also ask yourself what the cost is to NOT find an apartment package management system. The hours of administrative work for on-site teams add up quickly!

How will it integrate?

Move-ins, move-outs, and any other resident updates should always be current in your property and package management systems. You should also find out if locker systems or package rooms integrate with community apps. You may want one down the road (if you don’t already have one). And it will be better to have a system that already accommodates that.

Apartment package management systems are a win-win

No matter what apartment package management system you pick for your community, your on-site teams will be grateful. Because with the help of automation, their time will be better spent. And residents will have more flexibility when it comes time to pick up their packages. To read more about apartment package management systems, download our free guide, Unpacking Multifamily Package Management Solutions.

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