Managing packages in your strata

Date Published : Jan-27-2021

Written By : Kim Brown

Your package has arrived! Who doesn’t love receiving that message? But, when you live in or manage a strata of 500+ people, package deliveries can quickly cause more grief than joy. 

The winter holidays have come and gone, but many strata corporations are finding that the influx of Amazon boxes, furniture, clothes and groceries is not diminishing. In fact, stratas have been receiving more online deliveries, even before the pandemic hit. But, after multiple stay-at-home orders and shopping restrictions were introduced in 2020, e-commerce sales hit a record $3.9 billion in May of last year, reported Statistics Canada. E-commerce sales more than doubled year over year, with a 110.8% increase compared with May 2019.  

Online deliveries are convenient, and in some cases, the only option right now. But, concierge staff, or whoever is responsible for package management, are feeling overwhelmed. Some staff are spending 1/3 to 1/2 of their shift logging and storing deliveries. The margin for error increases when there are literally hundreds of boxes coming to the front desk every week, and packages that aren’t picked up right away get buried by new deliveries. This leads to dissatisfied owners and residents, who expect better from their building. Just one lost package can tarnish the strata’s reputation, and create a dispute between an owner and management.  

 

 

Solutions to package pileups

Stratas understand that they can’t keep doing what they’re doing; deliveries will only increase as more businesses move online.

Common solutions include encouraging residents to send deliveries to a nearby post office or parcel pickup store, investing in a parcel locker, or getting assistance from a software system. While all of them have clear benefits, you may find that one solution works better for your community than the others. Take time to do research, and talk with other stratas in your area to see what they’ve done to address this issue.  

 

Parcel pickups

The first option lightens the workload for staff because they are responsible for fewer packages. The storage area or mailroom is also easier to navigate when it’s not overflowing with deliveries. The downside is that residents have to do more work. It’s inconvenient for them to have to collect their deliveries from another location, and if they are ordering something big, like an office chair, transporting that item back to their home can be a real challenge.

 

Parcel lockers

The second option has proved to be very effective for small and large strata corporations. Parcel lockers are customizable, easy to use, and very convenient. Some lockers even have temperature control, meaning perishable groceries can be safely stored until the recipient is able to pick them up.

Parcel lockers allow delivery personnel to drop off items without having to involve concierge. Notifications are sent directly to residents once the delivery has been entered into the locker’s system. Residents can collect their items at any time; it only takes a minute to type in their unique code and retrieve their stuff.   

Unfortunately, cost may be a barrier for some corporations. Parcel lockers for strata communities of about 250 units will cost roughly $25,000 with installation.

 

Package management software

The third option has been proven to be effective, affordable, and convenient. Package management software enables concierge to automate this time-consuming process so that they can devote more time to other tasks. Using a system like Condo Control, staff would only need their phone to scan new packages. They can scan and log multiple items in a short amount of time. The app recognizes recipients’ details on the package, and syncs with residents’ files to quickly log the parcel. The resident will get a notification automatically once their package has been logged into the system.

Instead of taking notes by hand or on a program like Excel, concierge can use the package tracking feature to quickly log specific details, like which courier delivered the package, whether or not it is perishable, what the package looks like, and where in the storage area it was placed. These records can be pulled up at a moment’s notice, and if the staff member who logged the package is finished working by the time the recipient comes for their item, the new staff member won’t have any trouble locating where the delivery was stored.

Package management software is suitable for small, medium and large buildings. It is less expensive than parcel lockers, and doesn’t take up any additional space.    

Another benefit to having this software is that management can view data about how many parcels are delivered to the strata each month or year, and how long it takes for residents to pick them up. Using this information, you can determine if new policies or procedures are needed to ensure there is enough room for everyone’s deliveries. 

 

Package policies

In some cases, stratas may need to create parcel pickup policies to encourage residents to collect their items in a timely manner. After a certain number of days, the strata may decide to issue fees to residents who haven’t picked up their packages. Stratas may also create special rules about grocery deliveries or oversized items.  

The increased level of online shopping is something that is here to stay, even after the pandemic is over. As with all facets of strata management, technology can play a big role in lessening the burden of package management for concierge and managers. Better organizational systems can make a world of difference, too. For example, to establish a more functional storage room, encourage staff to:

  • Log a brief description of each package in the tracking system that the strata uses so that it’s easier to find
  • Write the unit number of the recipient on the front of the package
  • If possible, place packages numerically along the shelves
  • Alternatively, they can organize parcels by size. Large parcels should be stored close to the ground, while small and medium parcels should be placed on the middle and top shelves
  • Store envelope-type deliveries that do not fit directly into mailboxes in a secure filing cabinet or drawer. Organize the envelopes by unit number

Conclusion

Online shopping will undoubtedly bring more mail and boxes into strata corporations. It’s easy and convenient, especially for people that don’t own a vehicle or don’t have the time to make multiple trips to multiple stores.

Strata staff have been working hard to keep up with all the mail, but they should not have to spend half of their shift logging deliveries and notifying residents. Instead, corporations should work together to find solutions that will help automate this process and make it easier for residents to collect their orders in a timely manner.