Smart parcel lockers can keep deliveries secure, facilitate pick-up for residents and relieve staff from time-consuming handling duties
Online shopping means more and more parcels are being delivered to Build to Rent properties.
Astonishingly, online shopping now makes up around a quarter of retail sales and even pre-pandemic, eCommerce was growing with a 2019-20 eight per cent year-on-year increase in UK parcel volumes – a phenomenal 2.8 billion delivered items, according to Ofcom research.
Operational implications of missed deliveries
This presents a challenge for BTR properties.
Parcel handling takes up considerable staff time. In fact, based on an average of 60 packages per day, six days a week, at a rate of 10 packages per hour, up to 36 hours can be spent each week handling and sorting.
As owner-operators strive to provide all the amenities residents expect, they will aim to turn parcel deliveries around as rapidly as possible. After all, next or same-day delivery is fast becoming the standard. BTR parcel management processes must therefore maximise:
- Convenience and simplicity for residents
- Efficiency for administrators and staff
- Cost effectiveness for owner-operators
This is tricky if staff have to take in parcels themselves, log them manually and get them to residents. Nor do the problems end there. If deliveries are made to a communal space, such as reception, they can create an untidy environment and potentially pose a trip or fire hazard. What’s more, left in reception areas or outside residents’ own doors, parcels are at risk of going missing. It’s not the best resident experience.
Velocity Village provides studio, one, two and three-bedroom apartments to rent in the heart of Sheffield. One of a number of sites in the UK managed by AddLiving, the 300-unit village offers a range of amenities for professionals and students.
In 2019, AddLiving introduced secure parcel lockers to give residents 24/7 access to their delivered parcels.
Vicky Gill, lettings negotiator at Velocity Village, said: “It was hard for residents to collect parcels and it took up a lot of staff time, especially as parcel volumes increased with more people shopping online. We wanted to explore options that would make the whole process easier and minimise the amount of staff intervention required.”
On a quiet day, the office could take delivery of around 20 parcels for residents. This would increase to around 100 deliveries a day at peak times, such as Christmas.
To test the theory that parcel lockers can contribute to reduced congestion and pollution, Parcel Pending by Quadient ran a pilot project in the US with the University of Washington and its Urban Freight Lab7, with the participation of two carriers (UPS and USPS), property managers at the Seattle Municipal Tower (CBRE), the Seattle Department of Transportation, and building residents.
The results revealed:
- Total delivery time plummeted 78 per cent, compared to floor-to-floor and door-to-door delivery
- There were zero failed deliveries to the lockers, compared to seven in the traditional delivery model
- A significant reduction in dwell time (time spent parked in a loading zone) reducing traffic and carbon emissions.
Quadient’s intelligent parcel lockers were chosen for the secure storage of delivered parcels at the Velocity Village.
Vicky Gill said: “Residents love the parcel lockers, they’re really user-friendly and mean they can collect their parcels at any time. They’ve also taken pressure off staff who now have very little to do with parcel deliveries.”
Erdal Kacar, operations director at AddLiving, said: As a company we embrace technology and new ways of solving old problems. The lockers are now an amenity which we are proud of and are well liked by our residents.”
Implications for residents and their experience
Residents are often out when deliveries are made, making tracking them down an issue. Staffing levels often vary too and building access for delivery couriers may be restricted. If couriers can’t make their drop-off, they must make a redelivery, generating more traffic to the site and adding to congestion and carbon emissions.
Implications for the wider environment
A 2020 World Economic Forum (WEF) report estimates the demand for last-mile delivery in urban areas will increase by 78 per cent by 2030, leading to a rise in emissions from these deliveries of over 30 per cent in the world’s top 100 cities.
In 2017, the RAC reported vans were the fastest-growing traffic segment in the UK and that, whilst eCommerce was not a dominant part of the traffic mix, by 2040 vans were forecast to create 21 per cent of all traffic miles. Therefore, maximising the chances of first-time success in deliveries has side benefits for urban traffic flow and minimising emissions.
Resolving these issues
Times have changed and the manual process of receiving, logging, storing, and distributing parcels are creaking under the strain.
Smart parcel lockers providing secure storage, offer a solution.
Here’s how they work:
- The delivery driver or on-site staff member selects the resident from the electronic directory
- They choose a locker box according to the item’s size and shape and place the package inside
- The resident is sent an automatic electronic notification with a PIN and barcode
- They use the details to open the locker when they’re ready to collect
It’s simple, convenient, reduces staff involvement and means parcels are no longer left lying around awaiting collection.
What’s more, according to survey results gathered from case studies conducted with residents of Cortland Partners properties, lockers provide a better resident experience and can drive increased renewals by 40 per cent.