Package Volume Increase Means Greater Need for Automated Lockers

Whether you are a retailer who ships orders to customers, or a multi-family property receiving those packages for your residents, you can attest to the continued increase in the amount of packages being sent.

According to the recently released Pitney Bowes Shipping Index Report for 2017, the United States has had an 8% increase in package volume from the previous year. What does that look like? A total of 11.9 BILLION packages sent in 2017. . .or an average of 37 packages per person! Multiply that number by your total residents and suddenly you have a number that can easily require a full-time job to manage. And, with that growth being attributed to the continued rise of eCommerce, retailers are also feeling the pressure to meet customer delivery demands.

Both retailers and multi-family property owners are meeting this challenge head on by utilizing automated locker systems as part of their solution. With a secure location for packages that can be accessed 24/7, automated locker users appreciate the convenience of retrieving their packages on their own schedule. But how do you determine how many automated lockers are needed per delivery?

A good rule of thumb is 1.75 lockers multiplied by the number of packages per day. So for instance, if you are managing 50 packages per day that would mean you would need to provide a minimum 88 lockers (1.75 x 50 = 88). Of course this just provides for an average delivery day and doesn’t take into account seasonality, like back-to-school or the holidays, where more lockers would most likely be needed.

Our product experts would be happy to help you determine the number of automated lockers appropriate for your situation. Simply contact us and see how easy it would be to add Package Concierge® locker systems into your location.

Introducing the New www.packageconcierge.com

By now we are sure that you have noticed our  website has a new look! As our products and markets have expanded, we wanted to make it easier for you to find information and explore solutions to automate your package management. Naturally we have all the cool features you’d expect, like mobile responsive design and plenty of ways to contact us. Some of the other cool features our new website includes:

But we’re not stopping there- the next phase of improvements is already in the planning stages. Because we are always looking for ways to improve, if you have any questions, suggestions, feedback or comments, please email us. Happy surfing!

Package Concierge®: Florence Built, Gibraltar Owned

You’ve known us as a great automated locker solution for your package management issues. But since it is what’s inside that matters, here is a little bit more about our story…

Our automated locker solutions are a fusion of the best of two companies:

  • Package Concierge® – who has been innovating package management software for over a decade
  • Florence Corporation – who has been setting the pace for innovation in the centralized mail and package delivery industry since 1934

Automated Lockers solve package management issues.

Package Concierge® founder Georgianna Oliver spent a year developing a solution to the escalating problem of package management before introducing her company in 2012. We were first to market with a solution that went beyond software that could only track the growing mountain of packages, and instead went directly to the heart of the issue – storage and security.

Partnering with Florence Corporation to develop an innovative automated locker that is Made in America, Package Concierge® offers the highest-quality solution in the industry. From its intuitive mobile app to shipping and returns, we are the only secure and seamlessly integrated system for 24/7 package management that also meets all fire and safety standards.

Package Concierge® was acquired by Florence Corporation’s parent company, Gibraltar Industries in 2017. A leading manufacturer and distributor of building products for the industrial, infrastructure and residential markets, Gibraltar’s mission is to achieve best-in-class value creation and shareholder returns through a business strategy focused on operational excellence, product innovation, acquisition growth and portfolio management. As part of Gibraltar Industries, Florence Corporation and Package Concierge® have the resources and reach to be your solution provider of choice.

With more systems and users being added every week, our automated locker solutions are installed throughout North America in a variety of business types:

  • Apartments
  • Retail
  • University
  • Corporate Office

We’d love to explore locker solutions with you! Together, let’s see how Package Concierge® can help improve your package management process. Simply contact us through our website, or by calling 888-989-7225.

Internet of Things and Property Management

A Look at IoT and its Affects on Property Management

By now, unless you have been living under a rock or off the grid, you are used to the “internet of things” touching virtually every aspect of your life. Your smartphone is smart because of the internet. Your car provides you with directions through its GPS using the internet. Your refrigerator may even be able to tell you what groceries you need the next time you are at the store!

But have you ever thought about the effect the internet of things has on commercial real estate and the changes that it brings to the manner in which asset managers conduct business?

Property managers and changing technology

Manufacturers have long recognized the benefit of integrating various production and management systems through the industrial IoT. These artificial intelligence systems allow for just-in-time ordering of parts, warn their human counterparts of potential difficulties in production lines and stop the line, and integrate production with office functions, automatically invoicing clients for products once they are shipped. Such integration saves time and money in manufacturing.

This type of integration is now available in commercial building management through the use of AI for those property managers who understand the changing technology environment.

“Smart systems” – those that can “talk” to one another – have been around for decades in building management. AI takes smart systems to a new level. Through AI, the system itself can make appropriate choices in heating, cooling, and the allocation of other valuable resources to greatly improve cost-efficiency. And these decisions occur without human interface other than equipment and technology maintenance.

Tenants will demand more technology from their commercial space

Gone are the days when a commercial tenant needed only a solid landline and a reliable internet connection to process payment. Today’s commerce moves at the speed of light, both from the vendor and the customer point of view. Landlords would do well to keep up with the increased technological demand.

Newly constructed commercial space can design AI elements into the building plans. Older buildings must adapt as best they can to meet changing tenant needs. Not only are retailers using more bandwidth to manage business, accept payment and run websites, but consumers are also using online devices while shopping to comparison shop or simply stay in touch with friends and family.

As a result, top-speed, reliable Wi-Fi may well be the deciding factor for retailers in the coming years.

Cost/benefit analysis is key to determining implementation

While the benefits of AI and IoT are clear, such benefits do not come without a price tag. The benefits include lower cost of ownership through smart building maintenance, the ability to charge higher rents for higher tech retail spaces and the ease of accepting payments and holding real-time discussions with tenants through a variety of electronic devices.

The costs vary according to the size, age and condition of the rental property. Obviously, a newer building already contains components of becoming an AI building. Your 200-year-old Victorian Bed and Breakfast, however quaint, is likely not as compatible for today’s technology.

Package Concierge is one part of the technology equation that can help you run your building smoothly without costing you a small fortune. Our locker system ensures your residents and tenants that their packages are safe and available to them any time of day or night. Fully customizable, the system can accommodate both residential and commercial customers, notifying them when packages arrive. Since the packages can be retrieved with a simple code, you have one less technological component to worry about as you consider the other options that you can offer your residents and tenants.

Package Concierge® Helps Ivy League School Manage Shipments and Adds College Logistics Expert to Meet Growing Demand

Today, Package Concierge, the innovator of the digital locker system for apartment buildings, announced it is helping one of the most prestigious Ivy League schools in the country manage packages for its students. The company has also appointed former Pitney Bowes College Sales Director, Lance Whitson, as its new national university sales manager.

“The addition of Lance to our team signals our commitment to delivering the highest-quality solution on the market to more industries that need it,” said Georgianna W. Oliver, founder of Package Concierge. “College campuses must implement a more efficient way to manage the influx of shipments and our digital locker system makes package management hassle-free for both students and faculty.”

Package Concierge is currently working with numerous college campuses across the country and is continuing to gain considerable momentum. The company processes 30,000 packages a day, and that number will only get bigger as shipments worldwide have increased 48 percent in just the past two years.

“University bookstores no longer sell books – everything is done online, which has resulted in colleges being overwhelmed by the process,” said Whitson. “Package Concierge delivers security, reliability and cuts down on the wait time for students, while also lowering labor expenses for the staff and schools. And with a system that is both technologically-savvy and beautifully designed, I’m particularly excited to join the innovator in the market.”

Having dedicated the majority of his career to the mailing and shipping industry, Whitson brings a proven track record for growing teams and growing market share for logistics companies. He was recently at Pitney Bowes, where he pioneered the launch of its intelligent locker offering. Previously, he served as the National Vertical Market Manager for Colleges and Universities at Neopost.

To-date, Package Concierge has managed more than 15 million package transactions nationwide, and serves over 250,000 apartment residents and students. For more information about Package Concierge and its solution, please visit packageconcierge.com.

Valentine’s Day Gifts & Delivery

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Are you prepared with that special gift for that special someone? Is your building prepared for the onslaught of gifts that may arrive on that special day?

If you think that you can treat February 14 as “just another day at the office,” think again. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans shelled out over $18 billion in gifts last year – most of them purchased online. The NRF also noted that pet gifts comprised an astonishing 20% of the purchases!

Just as Cyber Monday rivals Black Friday shopping around Christmas, online retail sales for Valentine’s Day is on the rise. How will you handle all of the packages that will come into your building? Will your residents and office tenants be satisfied with the level of service that you are able to provide with your current equipment and personnel?

Most residential and office buildings have a system of check-in whereby the carrier delivers the packages to one, central location. Building and leasing staff then notifies residents that packages are available for pick up and during what hours. Of course, this system usually entails dedicating at least one staff member whose day will consist of constant interruptions to retrieve packages or allow residents into the secure package area.

If you are still looking for ideas for your Valentine, here are some helpful items.

What to Buy Him

You know him almost as well as you know yourself. You can, and do, finish one another’s sentences. Yet when it comes to choosing the perfect gift, you are stumped.

Don’t fret! The Huffington Post compiled a list of Valentine’s Day gifts for him that are not over-the-top lovey-dovey. Some of the gifts involve shaving products – not necessarily romantic, but perfect for the practical side of your man. Other gifts include clothing items, whether or not your man is infatuated with the great outdoors. Fitness items, concert tickets, home décor and electronics round out the list.

Framing his favorite photos or having them reprinted on glass presents another great option.

What to Buy Her

Flowers and candy are always good options and greatly appreciated but can be construed as trite. Jewelry may be out of your price range or simply not make the right statement at this point in your relationship. And clothing? Unless you can guess the perfect size and style, it is probably best to avoid this option.

Fortunately, The Washingtonian rides to the rescue with unique and creative Valentine’s Day gifts that will send the right message without breaking the bank.

Books of any sort show that you respect her mind, whether it is a kitschy coffee table book or a beautifully bound journal in which she can write her own story. Throw in a stylish pen set or a pack of fun, colored writing utensils, and you can show her that you truly understand her personality.

Gifts that pamper – whether a lovely, scented candle, a stove-top espresso maker, hair or skin care products, or something to make her home more cozy – always hit the mark. For additional pampering, try a box of scented bath oils or salt scrubs, or a gift certificate to a local spa.

What to Buy Your Building

Package Concierge provides durable, digital, fire-resistant lockers that safely store packages for pickup any time of the day or night, seven days out of the week. A simple, four-step system ensures that all packages are ready whenever your residents are.

Residents receive an instant notification that their packages have arrived. They can then retrieve the packages from their lockers using a pin number.

No stolen packages. No perishable items wasting. No upset resident that wasn’t able to access their special gift because the leasing office was closed before they could get home. In short, Package Concierge takes one huge worry off of your mind and your residents’ – whether or not packages will arrive safely. Now the only thing they need to decide is what that package will contain!

Ten Things To Look Forward To In 2018

As we say so long to 2017, we can’t help but wonder what the New Year is going to catapult our way.

Tech innovations are getting more advanced every day. The nation’s political climate is changing by the minute. Industries have been constantly adapting to our ever-evolving world – especially multifamily – which some say is a late technology bloomer and has plenty of room for growth.

What can we expect from 2018? Here are ten things that we can look forward to:

1. Purple is 2018’s Official Color

Pantone selected ultra violet as the color of 2018: a “dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade,” Pantone said. Inventive and imaginative, complex and contemplative and intrigue into what lies ahead.

2. AI and Smart Homes

Remember that Disney Channel movie from the 90s, “Smart House?” Sans the bossy AI-computer named PAT who goes rogue and takes control of the entire house and locks the family inside, smart houses are an actual thing. And smart apartment features are regularly being incorporated into new developments. This trend is not only a luxury; it’s becoming embedded into the workplace, is creating the biggest buzz in HR circles and ids becoming an expectation in apartments as technology becomes more mainstream for consumers.

3. Virtual Reality May Go Mainstream

Or it may not. But VR platforms are really appealing to people these days, and the tech industry is on a roll. We have seen VR enter the multifamily space and it has been steadily growing in the consumer world. Will it make a big jump in popularity in 2018? We’ll see.

4. eCommerce Wins Consumer Race

2018 might be the year eCommerce jumps ahead of traditional retail in the consumer-purchasing race. Online shopping isn’t running out of steam. More and more people find the notion of 2-day shipping or the potential for 2-hour shipping to be very appealing. But will it be too good to be true? It will be interesting to see if package delivery carriers can keep up with the demand.

5. Increased Marketing Automation

More and more industries are adopting marketing automation to keep up with consumers online. Apartment owners and operators have been investing in automation software to streamline processes that are eating up too much time out of leasing associates’ schedules.

6. The 2018 Winter Olympics

Who doesn’t love a good major international multi-sport event? The 2018 Winter Olympics will be held in PyeongChang, South Korea in February. The best from all over unite for days of competition and we root for the Red, White and Blue and always the underdog with the heartfelt story.

7. Redheads Get An Emoji

This is really a thing that’s being voted on by the Unicode Technical Committee. If it’s a “yes,” expect redheads coming to your emoji keyboards in June. Also, being voted upon: a frowning pile of poo. Because the happy poo just isn’t enough.

8. New Entertainment Releases

From movie releases to new TV show series, from new albums to released concert dates, the entertainment industry always churns out new content to look forward to. We hear rumors of a new Beyoncé album, so we will have to wait and see along with the rest of the Beyhive, but 2018 should rock.

9. It’s Not Just Planes That Can Fly

One way to beat stifling rush-hour traffic: fly past it. That could be a reality in the near future, as Uber is set to team with hovercraft creator Kitty Hawk in 2018 in hopes of developing a flying taxi program. Additionally, the bike-share market will continue to evolve. China and parts of Europe are already using a dock less system in which that allows users to park and share rented bikes anywhere using an app or QR code. This will soon enter the U.S. and might cause cities to rethink their current approach.

10. Super Bowl LII

Since the Super Bowl is one of the first things to happen at the beginning of a new year, we spend most of the year pining away for the next one. The 52nd Super Bowl is right around the corner on Feb. 4 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, and Justin Timberlake is performing sans Janet Jackson. Apartment communities should capitalize on such a celebrated non-official American holiday.

What will 2018 have in store for us? We will have to wait and see but we do wish everyone a healthy and happy year.

Looking Back on Memorable Moments of 2017

The most anticipated solar eclipse on record. The emergence of bitcoin and continued technology advancement. One of the most devastating hurricane seasons on record. The #MeToo movement. Selena Gomez retained her status as most-followed celebrity on Instagram with more than 130 million and #love was the most used hashtag. Massachusetts earned designation as the healthiest state (shout out to our home state!) followed by the Aloha state Hawaii. Meanwhile, Florida and Utah, experienced the largest improvements. 2017 has certainly been filled with memorable moments.

The multifamily industry produced its share of news as well, as hints of a slowdown were premature and the latest tax bill might prove to have numerous wins for the industry. With that in mind, here are some of the industry’s most noteworthy and memorable moments from the year:

      • Package Concierge® sold to Gibraltar

        An exclusive multifamily partnership was forged when Gibraltar Industries acquired Package Concierge® in February. As the apartment industry’s leading supplier and innovator of electronic package management solutions, and Gibraltar, a leading manufacturer of commercial building products, come together multifamily properties gain access to the most innovative package management solutions. We are excited about what 2018 holds for us and the Gibraltar team!

      • Apartment List getting aggressive with ads

        Apartment List got hard-hitting with its social media marketing strategy by partnering with Facebook and Realtor.com. Now the ILS will display ads more prominently on platforms visited by millions on a daily basis. The move represents the massive shift in the way renters are searching for and finding their apartments online.

      • NMHC/Kingsley survey recognizes package boom

        The emergence of ecommerce is a new-school concept that the largest resident survey didn’t even include package questions on its previous edition. In August, the NMHC/Kingsley Renter Preferences Report unveiled 57 percent of respondents were very interested or highly interested in package lockers. And 47 percent of those individuals indicated that they receive at least three packages a month.

      • New tech companies make waves

        Technology has been shaping many different industries. But the ways it’s playing into the multifamily industry is groundbreaking as it has notoriously behind the tech curve. SOCi, STRATIS and ApartmentJet are the three biggest shake-ups. SOCi is changing the social media and marketing management game. STRATIS is innovating through its mobile access for residents and property managers to adjust energy and automation control for their units. ApartmentJet is the only existing short-term rental platform to assist multifamily operators to generate revenue through vacant units.

      • Bitcoin emerges

        We’ve been hearing about the infamous bitcoin everywhere. So it isn’t surprising the emergence of the digital cryptocurrency has been seeping into multifamily as well. Bitcoin can be used to purchase real estate in the U.S. and other countries.

These are just a few of the defining moments of the past 12 months and some of the apartment industry’s. As we move into 2018, these trends can suggest that even more tech and digital marketing changes are on the horizon.

Is Your Leasing Team Too Busy?

Your leasing team is an integral part of your company. They’re the public face of the property. They are the key liaison between the management team, the current resident and the prospective resident. Managing incoming packages used to be a minor part of leasing offices duties. But today, maneuvering the influx of package deliveries eats up significant time in the day of a leasing associate.

Some leasing offices are quite literally drowning in resident packages as ecommerce continues its skyward surge. Our data shows that an average 250-unit apartment community receives over 50 packages a day. This number increases three-fold during the holiday season with some communities seeing close to 150 packages come through the doors.

Deliveries can be so time demanding that onsite leasing teams have no choice but to neglect tasks that are more integral to community success. Often companies are limited on the number of staff per property. And adding more personnel is an additional expense.  Sure, leasing teams have time to handle packages, but wouldn’t you rather have your leasing teams performing more valuable tasks?

Giving tours to prospective residents

The community tours are critical to closing with your prospects. Highlighting the key features and amenities that set you apart from your competition is vital to any property tour. Apartment shoppers want to be able to get a good feel of their community, see their next home, and they want to love it. If your leasing associates are tied up with organizing packages in the office, the prospect will move on to the next property that has the time to give them tour of their property.

Addressing resident concerns

One of the most crucial duties of the onsite job is making sure residents are happy and satisfied with their living experience. Addressing resident concerns and servicing the community is of upmost importance and can make or break the community’s reputation – especially online. A majority of happy residents will renew their leases which help retain the high occupancy rate.

Freedom from package duties means spending more time engaging with residents to make sure everything is operating smoothly for them. It’s also a great opportunity to discover upgrades and improvements that can be made to community operations and amenities.

Respond to online reviews

Online reputation management is a necessity of today’s apartment industry. So, having a good ORA rating is a must have. Many prospective renters review the ratings and reviews of every item they purchase, including renting their next apartment and positive ratings and reviews of current residents are key to gaining the new residents. Leasing associates and community managers should be responding to online reviews and maintaining digital content.

Following up on prospect leads

A lot of money is spent on the marketing to attract the new leads for your property. So, how are you going to gain new prospects if you don’t follow up on all your qualified leads? Answer: you’re probably not. Chasing down leads and following up with potential customers are high priorities in the multifamily industry. It’s key to a solid NOI.

These are just a few things the leasing team should be doing instead of grinding away organizing packages. These items make all the difference. And the time adds up quickly when it comes to gaining and attracting and retaining residents.

Apartment Communities and the Increasing Carrier Companies

As ecommerce continues to grow at an astounding rate, the package delivery process has no choice but to expand.

Not long ago, FedEx and UPS were responsible for most forms of package delivery. Today, there are even more carriers in the delivery race with the innovation of services like UberRush and Roadie. Combine these new delivery services with the increasing number of national retailers – like Costco and Kroger and the recent announcement from the USPS about Sunday deliveries, it might grow increasingly more difficult to determine just who your carrier is.

This trend, naturally, is to offer increased convenience for consumers. But as apartment operators and community managers, are you ready for it?

Apartment communities are constantly devising and revising driver training as package delivery continues to mutate into a much larger entity. Training was a relatively simple task when there were only a few carriers to educate. Now it’s becoming more challenging with the possibility of several different drivers arriving on a daily basis.

The more prepared you are – whether its having a capable package management solution in place or have an all-encompassing training process that can easily be relayed to the endless stream of new drivers – the less likely it is that package management will disrupt your day. Here’s a look at some of the new carriers that will be delivering packages to your communities soon, or more likely, already are:

UberRush

Just like the popular ride-share service drivers are at the ready and those closest to the shipment can retrieve it and shuttle it to its destination. The service also partners and integrates with businesses such as Shopify, Clover, Bigcommerce and 1-800 Flowers to help build deliveries into day-to-day operations.

Roadie

These carriers are similar to Uber, Lyft and Amazon Flex drivers. Like the ride shares, these drivers set their own schedule and work at their convenience. That means apartment communities might see a different driver every time a shipment is delivered. Guiding them to your package locker system and showing them how to operate it can become a repetitive task, which is why it’s best to have a streamlined process in place.

DHL Parcel & eCommerce

For international shipments, a DHL driver might arrive at your community. The service supports work-from-home retailers by offering international and domestic ecommerce services. While the company sometimes seeks out reliable transit to deliver shipment, it offers last-mile delivery in some markets.

The overriding theme is that packages are coming from all angles, and like the ecommerce boom itself, the trend shows no signs of dissipating. Are you ready? If you have a solid solution in place and have educated yourself on the vast amounts of carriers, you’re one step ahead of the game.