Ecommerce Boom Puts Stress on Condo Lobbies


Logistics innovations

This article originally appeared in the Toronto Condo News on April 1st, 2023.

The ecommerce boom places immense strain on staff and space in multi-unit residential buildings.  Until recently peak package volumes occurred in December.  Since Covid, there have been sustained package volumes beyond what most communities are designed to handle.

A May, 2021 study (Statista Research) shows that Canadian retail e-commerce grew by 6.5 percent in 2018, rising to 8.1 percent growth the following year.  Growth since this time has been dramatically higher..

Buying habits are expected to continue their trend toward online shopping.  A Canada Post survey finds that 93 percent of Canadians intend to maintain or increase their online spending after the pandemic.  Much of the rise in ecommerce is attributed to younger generations.  Millennial and Gen Z consumers account for one-third of all online shopping and represent 35 percent of people who purchase more than 25 items online per year. Growing in popularity among these groups are online food purchases including meal kits and ready-to-eat food deliveries.

Increased deliveries have placed unexpected strain on staff and space in high-rise communities which is not expected to revert to pre-pandemic levels.

Lobbies were never designed to handle current package volumes.  Space and staffing shortages mean packages not being properly handled and delivered to residents in a timely manner.

“In staffed lobbies the concierge is typically responsible for granting access to the building for delivery drivers, accepting and signing for parcels, logging deliveries, storing them, and contacting the resident to pick up their package” explains Michael Trueman, President of ParcelPort Solutions, a provider of intelligent locker systems for residential and commercial properties.  “With each package taking up to ten minutes of time, there is now a continuous overflow of packages at concierge desks and in lobbies.  This backlog creates security and fire code issues.  For example, an overabundance of cardboard boxes in lobbies and trash rooms can be a fire hazard.“

The delivery and storage situation in unstaffed lobbies is worse with doorways and walkways blocked, and packages more easily stolen.

One way to resolve the problems of growing package deliveries is to reduce the time taken to handle each package and speed up resident retrieval.  Condo management software and apps offer effective and economical solutions.  Another approach is to eliminate the need for concierge staff to get involved in package deliveries by incorporating smart parcel lockers for secure package storage and resident that benefit both the environment and their finances.

While builders may have access to fewer tax incentives, the advantages of installing energy-efficient appliances are substantial. Investing upfront in appliances that have energy-saving settings and smart technology can not only increase the value of individual units but also boost their bottom line.