Loaded Lockers: Way to Manage Uncollected Packages


Logistics innovations

People shop online a lot more than they’d like to admit. According to an NPR/Marist Poll, 69% of Americans have shopped online since the start of 2022, while 25% of Americans shop online at least once per month. To entice additional demand, online retailers have begun offering free or fixed-rate shipping, as well as 2-day or overnight options. These days, it doesn’t take much for a community’s internal mail service or package room to become overwhelmed.

There is, however, a way to mitigate package overflow. Smart Lockers are an excellent option to safeguard packages before they’re picked up. These devices improve security and decrease the human labor needed to manage a condominium complex’s package service.

What is a Smart Locker

Smart Lockers are secure storage systems that manage package deliveries. Using integrated computers, a delivery person can drop off a package in a Smart Locker, securely close the locker slot, and be on their way. The condominium resident will then receive a notice and a scannable code indicating that their package has arrived. The locker then safely stores the package until the resident comes to collect it by scanning their code and opening the corresponding slot. Smart Lockers offer a convenient and cost-effective way to receive parcels and mail, especially for buildings and communities with multiple residents.

The Pick-Up Problem

With the increase in online shopping, condominium package distribution operations are easily overwhelmed. Even with the implementation of Smart Lockers, residents who fail to pick up their items promptly risk overwhelming the system. Think of how a retail planogram functions. Stores carefully manage their inventory to improve both the buyer’s experience and the employee’s experience. Package management requires a similar amount of attention to detail to keep residents happy.

Like the retailers themselves, management companies have a variety of options to help manage package intake, including:

Option 1 – Do Nothing

On average, residents generally pick up their packages within 1.6 days. In most cases, this turn-around won’t overwhelm capacity. However, each year is dotted with high-volume shopping days. These shopping periods also happen to fall around popular travel periods, like the winter holidays. During these high-volume weeks and months, it is common for lockers – and staff – to become overwhelmed.

Option 2 – Charge a Late Fee

Charging a late fee incentivizes residents to collect their packages while creating a fund to offset the Smart Locker’s operational costs. In addition, implementing a 2- or 3-day “expiry period” coupled with a nominal daily fee encourages folks to collect their packages sooner. Fees typically range from $1.50 to $3.00 per day, which, for a management company with dozens of residents, can add up to a decent sum in just a few months.

Photo of someone making a deposit into a ParcelPort smart locker

Smart Locker efficiency is dependent on timely pickups

Option 3 – Communicate with Residents

Sometimes, people just need an extra push. Though most residents will receive notification of delivery from the online retailer, some management companies prefer to notify the resident themselves. Using an integrated software solution, reaching out to residents is a softer approach than implementing a fee and usually increases the likelihood of a person collecting their package sooner. However, this type of communication, whether by phone or email, requires time and labor to execute correctly.

Smart Locker Solutions

Not all Smart Lockers are created equal. The quality of hardware from one vendor to the next can vary widely depending on the manufacturing controls in place, materials selected, and tolerances set. The saying “you get what you pay for” is certainly applicable.

However, the most significant difference between an average Smart Locker and one that is truly smart lies within its software. Smart Locker vendors who retain full control over its programming can customize how Smart Lockers interact with couriers, customers, property managers, and third party software.

Ultimately, the purpose of your association’s Smart Locker is to improve the efficiency of how parcels are managed. This means reducing or eliminating all unnecessary manual involvement by you or your property manager including automatically sending reminders to residents of uncollected packages and charging late fees.

To learn more about how your organization can maximize smart lockers to reduce cost, increase revenue, and delight your customers, contact the ParcelPort team online by visiting www.theParcelPort.com, email at sales@theParcelPort.com or calling 1-800-818-0870.