When COVID-19 closed stores and confined Americans to their homes in the spring of 2020, they turned to their computers or phones to make purchases. E-commerce sales jumped 31.8% from 2019 to 2020, according to U.S. Department of Commerce retail data and Digital Commerce 360.
Since then, the number of packages arriving at apartment communities has only increased. In apartment properties that use systems from ButterflyMX — a New York City-based property technology company specializing in smartphone-based access control — deliveries in 2022 have risen nearly 200% percent from the same period in 2021.
The share of renters who received three or more packages per month increased from 55% to 76% from 2019 to 2021, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council/Grace Hill Renter Preferences Survey Report.
“All of multifamily has spent a lot of a lot of time on packages in general with the explosion of Amazon and other services,” said Carol Jackson, area vice president for King of Prussia, Pennsylvania-based Morgan Properties, the No. 3 largest owner of apartments in the country, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council. “It used to be something that we just dealt with seasonally — from Thanksgiving to New Year’s.”
As packages pile up, companies like Morgan have invested in technology and redesigned space to make room and to prepare for times where package delivery is heaviest, like the holidays or last week’s Amazon Prime Day.
Steve Hallsey, executive vice president of operations for Atlanta-based Wood Residential Services, the management arm of No. 4 developer Wood Partners, said that his properties didn’t really need to change operations for Prime Day.
“Most of our buildings have package rooms, which allow for more capacity than a locker system,” Halsey said. “Also, on some properties that don’t have package rooms, we contract with Fetch to deliver packages to a resident’s door during an arranged time.”
Diane Batayeh, CEO of Southfield, Michigan-based apartment manager Village Green, the No. 38 manager in the country, is in a similar situation. After 2020, the company converted some manual properties to automated package rooms and partnered with third-party companies that specialize in package management as a supplement to on-site staffing,
“We are also now exploring some relatively new options for our higher-end portfolio that consists of dedicated package concierges,” Batayeh said.
By making expenditures to put these new package-handling systems in place, companies can reduce the burden on on-site staffers. “Our goal, all above, is to remove this process from our on-site operators as it can be a full-time job,” said Yakov Belousov, executive director of operations at Alpharetta, Georgia-based apartment operator Pegasus Residential, the No. 37 manager in the country.
But despite the strides the apartment industry has made in package management, there is still more work to be done. Aaron Rudenstine, CEO of ButterflyMX, says future package rooms will be integrated into a shipping provider’s systems to enable couriers to access the package room without needing to enter a PIN or request access.
“The industry is still in the early stages of creating solutions to manage the growing number of packages — not just on Prime Day, but every day,” Rudenstine said.
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