While we will remember 2020 for many reasons – a global pandemic, economic instability, and the year we all worked from home – we might also remember it as the year eCommerce skyrocketed. Even before the pandemic, eCommerce made up about 12% of all consumer purchases. Once COVID hit American shores, that number grew exponentially.
Multifamily property managers are already struggling to keep eCommerce deliveries organized and safe. Now that the holidays are here, multifamily property managers can expect an even greater package onslaught. How can property managers maintain safe and secure package delivery for tenants as eCommerce expands?
The Rise of Online Shopping Amid COVID
In January 2020, off-site package solution Fetch found a modest 2% increase in package deliveries from the previous year. Even then, all indications pointed to eCommerce as an unstoppable force in the retail sector.
At the time of that release, our world was but weeks away from a massive shift in lifestyle. By February, package deliveries were up 29% from the previous year. By June, as most of the country faced significant shutdowns and Americans retreated to their homes, Fetch reported a 63% increase from 2019.
As we head into the holiday shopping season, online retailers are again breaking records. Online spending is up more than 30% ahead of the holidays, according to some reports. Most consumers say they're shopping online rather than in-person out of concern about the COVID-19 virus.
While this increase in eCommerce is excellent for online retailers, it is causing challenges for the nation's multifamily property owners and property managers. Before the pandemic, many apartment buildings were already finding ways to address increasing mail deliveries. However, the pandemic's parcel explosion has forced many property management teams to implement creative solutions – and implement them quickly.
Of course, these increased deliveries represent a variety of potential problems for multifamily property managers and tenants. The constant traffic in and out of building lobbies presents potential health concerns amid a growing virus. An onslaught of parcels creates storage and distribution challenges. And increased foot traffic from delivery drivers means more wear and tear on buildings.
While this year is undoubtedly unprecedented in its challenges, multifamily property managers can expect continued increases in eCommerce deliveries. This year may have seen more eCommerce deliveries than in years past, but our buying habits aren't likely to change anytime soon.
How to Handle the Onslaught of Mail
Multifamily properties in all classes are scrambling to find sustainable solutions to support increased package deliveries. Each property is unique, and property management teams will have to adapt to their specific environments. Parcel storage and delivery is not a one-size-fits-all approach.
Incorporate Parcel Pick-Up Lockers
A simple Google search will reveal several top-rated package pickup solutions for multifamily complexes. These on-site locker systems allow mail carriers to deliver packages directly to tenants, in a secure location, without assistance from a property manager or property staff member. Furthermore, many of these locker systems are automated, notifying tenants of deliveries. Residents can then retrieve packages safely, without any person-to-person contact.
Encourage Off-Site Deliveries
If your property cannot handle the onslaught of packages, encourage your tenants to utilize off-site parcel pickup locations instead. Many online retailers, including Amazon, Walmart, and Target, allow consumers to pick up in-store or at other locations near the buyer. For instance, Amazon Lockers will deliver to safe and secure kiosks near the buyer, eliminating the need for apartments to accept packages. Property managers should only use this as a short-term solution, however. As eCommerce becomes more commonplace, apartment buildings will need to address this issue.
Repurpose Unused Space
Perhaps the greatest challenge for apartment buildings and property managers is identifying and utilizing square footage for parcel storage and distribution. Consider repurposing any underutilized spaces on your property. With COVID restricting gatherings, for instance, you might consider repurposing common areas or conference rooms, turning them into parcel lockers for residents.
Maintaining Safety and Social Distancing
Of course, this holiday season, property managers must consider residents' and staff's health and safety above all else. During a global pandemic, increased foot traffic means increased risk. Therefore, many apartment complexes are turning to automated systems, allowing delivery drivers to safely and securely access mailrooms and other areas with limited person-to-person contact. Some of these solutions may represent a significant financial investment. But all indications point to eCommerce expanding in the future, making it a necessary investment.
The information provided herein does not constitute legal advice and is for general informational purposes only. This website contains links that are only provided for the convenience of the reader. All liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this site are hereby expressly disclaimed. No representations are made that this content is error-free. Please consult your attorney to determine if the information contained herein is applicable to your situation.