Managing condo package pileups during and after the pandemic

Date Published : Feb-08-2021

Written By : Kim Brown

How does your condo handle all of the parcels that are delivered to the building every day? There’s a good chance that your security and concierge staff are responsible for logging and storing packages, and notifying residents that their delivery has arrived. While this task doesn’t seem too time-consuming, it can quickly become overwhelming if there are 200+ boxes to log during an 8-hour shift. Depending on how many people live in the building, staff could be devoting up to half of their time managing packages. 

 

The pandemic has caused too many package pileups

Packages have been piling up on lobby desks well before the pandemic hit. But a growing inconvenience quickly ballooned to a chaotic issue now that restrictions and limitations have been placed on retail businesses. More people are doing their shopping online, and this trend has been particularly taxing for high-rise buildings. Packages are getting lost or misplaced. Owners are upset that staff can’t locate their items, and concierge struggles to find time to take care of anything other than parcels.

According to a report from Statistics Canada, e-commerce sales hit a record $3.9 billion in May of 2020, a 99.3% increase from February. Even more shocking, those numbers don’t account for sales from Amazon, since it is a foreign entity.

In June of 2020, the most popular online retail websites worldwide were Amazon, eBay, and Rakuten. No surprises here. These platforms let online shoppers order almost anything directly to their homes.

 

In Canada, only the food and beverage subsector saw an increase in in-store sales from February to April. Most Canadians stayed at home. But they still needed things to consume and keep them occupied. So, they went online to order furniture and home supplies, workout equipment, hobby items, and lots of food and beverages. Businesses were forced to move products online after lockdown orders were introduced, which encouraged even more online shopping.

 

 

The problem won’t solve itself

With so many people placing regular online orders, high-rise condo buildings are very aware that they cannot carry on with the status quo. A minority number of buildings may be getting by, but most are finding that they need a new solution. Boxes that got dropped off in the morning get buried in the back of the storage room by the end of the day. It’s harder for concierge to leave the front desk with so many deliveries coming in (and if they do leave, packages may be vulnerable to theft). If residents don’t collect their items quickly enough, the storage room fills up, and staff may have to redirect mail couriers to a nearby post office. That cancels out the convenience aspect for residents who weren’t prepared to lug their new office chair or weights from the post office back to their home.

Even when the pandemic ends, online shopping will continue to be a popular option for condo dwellers. So, what can corporations/associations do to accommodate the deliveries and restore order at the concierge desk?        

 

Establish some rules

Many condos have bylaws and rules that govern the relationship between residents and condo corporations/associations. These bylaws may include what services will and will not be provided, under what circumstances they will be offered, and limitations on services, such as the number of packages that the condo will accept on behalf of the owner.

Your building’s bylaws and rules may need to be updated to reflect the increase in parcel deliveries. While limiting residents’ parcel orders may create more issues than solutions in some communities, the board could instead create a rule stating that parcels must be picked up within 48 hours, unless special arrangements have been made. The condo may be able to implement fines or penalties if the rule is broken.

Condos that are short on space may also ask residents to make special arrangements when ordering oversized items. Either have the items delivered directly to the unit, or to a nearby parcel pickup location.

Automate package management

Even with good rules in place, automation is a key component to lightening the load for concierge. Logging items manually is a tedious task, and it’s easy to make a mistake when you’re cataloguing hundreds of deliveries each day.  

Package management software enables concierge to improve this time-consuming process so that they can devote more time to other tasks. Using something like Condo Control’s package management solution, staff only need their phone to scan and log parcels. They have the option to scan multiple items all at once, and it takes far less time because the Condo Control app automatically recognizes recipients’ personal information. The package is paired with the correct recipient’s unit file, and the resident will get a notification automatically once their package has been logged into the system.

Instead of keeping paper records or logging parcels on a program like Excel, concierge can use the package tracking feature to quickly catalogue specific details, including:

  • Which courier company delivered the package
  • Whether the items are perishable
  • What the package looks like (size, colour)
  • Where in the storage area the package was placed

Records can be pulled up at a moment’s notice, and the entire concierge team can locate packages for residents far more easily, even if they weren’t the ones to put the packages away.

Package management software is suitable for small, medium, and large buildings, and it can grow with your building. It’s very easy to use, and requires very little equipment. It is also an affordable solution, and the software doesn’t take up any additional space.   

In addition to being practical and flexible, package management software collects useful data from the building, which management can use to gain a deeper understanding of how quickly deliveries are increasing. Compare monthly or annual statistics to monitor growth and trends. Management could even pull numbers to see how long it takes for residents to retrieve their deliveries. Using this unique information, they can determine if new policies or procedures are needed to ensure packages aren’t sitting around for too long. 

 

Take concierge out of the equation

Condos that simply don’t have the space to keep all deliveries organized and secure are turning to parcel lockers to solve their package pileup problem. Parcel lockers can be assembled to fit almost any free space, they are easy to use, and very convenient. Residents that have access to these lockers appreciate that their items are stored safely, and are accessible at any time. 

Furthermore, parcel lockers allow delivery personnel to drop off packages without having to involve concierge. Notifications are sent directly to residents once the delivery has been entered into the locker’s system. This means concierge staff can be more productive, and focus on other duties.

Parcel lockers are an expensive investment, but they pay off in the long run.  

 

Conclusion

Efficient parcel management has become a key component in facilitating productive and happy condo communities. Parcel deliveries will continue to increase, even after the pandemic has ended. Condos should begin planning for that new reality now (if they haven’t done so already) to ensure staff and residents aren’t left scrambling when more mail arrives.