The holidays are right around the corner and so is holiday shipping. Black Friday is eagerly sitting on top of a massive pile of delivery packages with a Grinch-esque smile on its face just waiting for the festivities to begin.
As we enter the last months of the year, peak gift-giving season is upon us. Shopping and holiday shipping are about to get wild.
Online shopping industry continues to flex its market muscles as the go-to method. But the aura of the holiday season still holds a strong draw towards brick-and-mortar stores. Yes, people will still ship gifts purchased in person as opposed to ordering online. And with the emergence of shipping and returning apps, holiday gift shipping is going to be in full force this year.
Aside from cost-savings, a chief advantage to this shipping is that you don’t have to wait in line at the Post Office or FedEx. Stores like Crate & Barrel and Nordstrom’s will ship in-store purchases directly to an address. Now you don’t have to worry about dealing with that on your own.
Another popular trend, “ship-from-store,” is where brick-and-mortar retailers fulfill online orders from stores nearby; not from distribution centers miles away. This helps retailers stay competitive against e-commerce giants and also offers the customer faster shipping at lower costs and reduced markdowns.
But the game-changer in retail shipping is the peer-to-peer shipping app.
Dubbed Uber for shipping, apps like Roadie, Dolly, UberRush and more connect drivers/transporters and senders. Anything from packages to pets can be transported this way. Apps like these, either for local or international shipments, are especially handy for holiday shipping.
The changing landscape of peer-to-peer shipping is something the multifamily industry should be cognizant of. Many apartment communities have already had to come up with package management solutions with the influx of deliveries from the rise of online shopping. But many are still manually holding deliveries in the back office instead of in package lockers. A strong package management solution ensures the office staff is able to keep up with all the incoming deliveries. And it will also make peer-to-peer shipping much easier as well.
Regardless of where the package is coming from, technology has made shipping easier and more convenient for everyone. Contact us to get your package management solution installed before the holiday rush.
The rise of the Internet has impacted the globe in many ways. One of the biggest changes from the digital age is the fact people don’t have to leave their homes anymore… for anything, really. People can have a work-at-home business. They can shop from home. They can get groceries delivered straight to their front door. It’s easier than ever before to place orders online with the click of a button.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Many are enamored by the ease of running a home-based business. However, apartment renters, who make up a large portion of the millennial/Gen X demographic, can find it to be quite challenging because of the abundance incoming and outgoing shipments. These businesses require frequent, if not constant, deliveries that are shipped and received at home. Lost or delayed shipments can result in an immediate negative impact to their business success.
Apartment communities can assist here. Any community equipped with a 24-hour package locker system and a package room for larger shipments can dramatically help residents successfully run their home businesses. Depending on the industry supply contents can vary. However, in nearly every case, timely shipments are the lifeblood of the business.
Here is a look at some of the most common products shipped to these types of home-based, digitally run businesses:
- Home Decor
- Skin Care/Cosmetics
- Craft, Textiles & Other Homemade Goods
As work-at-home business continues to expand, so will their presence at apartment communities. Shipments will be amplified for these residents, and having an effective package management system in place can be the difference between losing and retaining them. With the sizable increase of work-at-home businesses, having a package solution onsite can serve as a marketing tool on its own. Prospects are already excited when they see package locker systems at a community they are touring. Having this amenity could be an even bigger draw to someone who is interested in or has already established an at home-based business.
We are proud to share this article on how our founder, Georgianna W. Oliver, continues to disrupt the norm with her entrepreneurial expertise and enhance the practices within the multifamily industry.
Expert Tips on How to Disrupt Multifamily – For the Better
Package Concierge Creator Georgianna Oliver shares her experience and knowledge from having owned several start-ups
by: Jennifer Castenson
Some people are born to disrupt things. Like self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneur” Georgianna Oliver.
Oliver has introduced several innovations to the multifamily housing industry in the past decade, including Package Concierge, one of the earliest automated package-locker systems for apartment properties. She also created AptBudget, a Web-based budgeting solution, and EverGreen Solutions, a technology-focused consultancy that helped owner–operators manage major technology implementations or moves from one property management system to another. (The latter two products have since been acquired by RealPage.)
What’s behind Oliver’s seemingly magical creativity? Read the full article here.
Overwhelmed leasing team members were creatively dealing with package management by stacking packages to clear out enough space to get to their desks and start the day.
It’s a plight many in the multifamily industry have become privy to. There has been a spike in online ordering but a lack of space to store the overabundance of packages. Currently, Americans spend more than $300 billion annually on online retailers. Community managers, leasing agents and team members burn several hours a week organizing these packages. That organization is just so they’ll have some idea where to look when residents come to pick them up.
To end the madness, communities are adopting package management technologies as a brisk, effective solution. However, communities shouldn’t wait until panic-mode sets in to make the call. Rather than grasping at contingency funds, planning ahead by adding a line item into the 2018 budget to implement a technology that best suits community needs will be a true life saver.
There are five options available to create more efficient package management. When evaluating which is the most appropriate solution for your community, keep in mind factors like your community size, accessibility, possible locations and even your renter demographic.
Package Logging Software: Through this service, residents receive text and email reminders that a package has arrived. This eliminates the steps in which residents call to check if a package has arrived, or a community team member calls the resident to notify them that it’s in. This is a solid option for smaller and midsize communities. It is cost-effective and allows for near-immediate implementation. However, some of the existing hurdles will remain. This solution still requires some staff involvement and doesn’t allow for round-the-clock package retrieval.
Software-Driven Package Rooms: This service remains cost-effective, further reduces staff involvement and allows residents round-the-clock access to retrieve their packages. Residents receive a text and email with a one-time code and their signature is required for entry into the package room. However, privacy and security isn’t as thorough with the packages on shelves rather than in lockers.
Smart Package Room Systems: This is a more technologically savvy version of the software-driven package room and features similar benefits. Camera footage of those retrieving packages is available to assist with accountability. Licensing fees might also be a little higher. While it offers a high level of security, it still isn’t quite as secure as a package locker system. Technology innovations are moving towards greater security.
Digital Package Locker Systems: The most convenient solution. It has the highest level of security, greatest privacy and the least amount of staff involvement. It also serves as a 24/7 amenity. This solution is also a future-proof solution, with the capability to incorporate any technological updates into the existing framework. While this solution has the highest upfront capital expenditure, the ROI in staff time saved and resident satisfaction can cover the cost within the first year.
The Full Package Package Management Solution: eCommerce trends are shifting. Residents are ordering more, bigger items and looking to ship items to their friends or family and want an easy way to return items. A key solution is combining the convenience and security of locker systems with the flexibility and size of smart rooms. With lockers installations that can be customized to fit any aesthetic or configured in a variety of ways, this comprehensive solution is primed to meet any future package management needs a community may have. Consider a new comprehensive package center for your residents with secure, easy-to-use lockers next to a smart room with a commercial grade freezer for all possible shipments that need refrigeration, custom shelving units to fit packages of any size or even tables equipped with packaging materials for every carrier. With this solution, the options are truly limitless.
Online package ordering is increasing nearly 10% each year and the trend, if anything, is increasing. If your community team can handle the influx, that’s fantastic. If not, we recommend budgeting now and planning ahead for one of the above solutions.
One hurricane already has landed on U.S. soil. Another is about to do so. And a third could be on the way if Hurricane Juan builds momentum. Hurricane preparedness is the utmost importance now.
It’s a small measure of relief that technology allows near-precise timeliness of when and where these devastating acts of nature will make impact. Technology can also help you best prepare for disaster.
In the case of Hurricane Irma, residents in Florida, the Gulf Coast and the eastern seaboard had more than a week’s warning for the most powerful Atlantic hurricane on record.
While that doesn’t soften the potential impact for apartment residents and operators, it gives them more sufficient time to prepare. As many go to local shops and stores to get supplies the result is often bar shelves. However, a few-day window exists to utilize online shopping. Apartment communities could see a gigantic rush of supplies ranging from non-perishable foods, flashlights, batteries and other survival-type goods.
This is also the time for property managers to have a firm emergency plan intact. It is vital to have procedures in place to notify residents and team members. This isn’t the time to ignore evacuation orders or the advice of first responders.
But no matter how direct, widespread or valuable the advice, some will choose to wait out the storm. In fairness, south Florida apartment developments are better prepared for a hurricane after 1992’s Hurricane Andrew. Construction standards have increased, windows are designed to withstand high impact and most new developments can absorb winds of up to 175 mph. But that doesn’t mean newer apartment communities can be perceived as an impenetrable fortress when hurricanes approach.
For those who plan to stay – or end up caught in an apartment community during a hurricane – here are a few survival tips:
Remain in the stairwell of your building
This is generally the safest place you can be, as it is the sturdiest part of any high-rise. The cooling tower atop the building also is built to withstand exceedingly heavy winds, particularly in newer buildings. The drawback with both these options is that you’ll be difficult to reach in the aftermath of the emergency.
Keep windows closed and balconies clear
These precautions might seem apparent enough. But the slightest gap in an open window can allow the storm to enter and could create a suction effect. Some might be tempted to open windows because the loss of power means the loss of air conditioning, which can create brutal inside temperatures.
Stay clear of low lying areas and windows
Although many believe the threat of danger elevates the higher you go, the most devastating impact typically occurs at ground level. That’s largely because ground-level items often stay close to the ground when they are uprooted and tossed through the air. And even though many new apartment communities feature glass that can withstand significant impact, stay as far away as possible despite the inclination to watch what’s happening outside.
If you safely wait out the storm and live on a higher floor, be mindful of the elevator situation. Shifting in a building typically equates to elevator problems, and they could be inoperable for the foreseeable future. So if you live on the 25th floor, be ready for an abundance of stair climbing each time you come and go.
Here’s hoping that hurricane season passes quickly and with as little damage as possible. For those in the path, stay vigilant, stay prepared and stay safe.
We have all been watching the news, concerned about those who live and work in Houston. It is truly heartbreaking to see the devastation they are going through right now. We can only hope the worst is behind them.
Now is the time for us to come together to help those so profoundly impacted by the floods. We need to let them know we are there are them – today, tomorrow and in the weeks and months to come.
Here are some links for organizations currently accepting monetary donations as shared by Huffington Post:
For in-kind donations, including blood, please check into these organizations:
- South Texas Blood
- Texas Diaper Bank – currently accepting donations but may take in-kind as well
- Feeding Texas
And finally, as an industry, there are ways we can step in to help the residents of Houston – both apartment renters and single-family owners.
- Consider offering model and vacant units as temporary housing. Airbnb is waiving its fees right now, this might be an option as well.
- Host meals for those who are displaced or for First Responders and volunteers in the field, or even better for all.
- Take moment to promote donation channels on your social media channels. Feel free to use this blog post to share some links.
- Engage your residents and collect in-kind donations of clothing, toiletries, household items, etc.
- If your property is pet friendly, consider becoming a foster to displaced pets. Or wave pet fees for any current residents who want to become a foster. Check out The Animal Defense League of Texas or San Antonio Pets Alive to sign up.
Although the devastation is happening right now, Houston is forever changed and will need assistance for weeks, months and potentially even years to come. I know what the multifamily industry is capable of and I urge you to consider holding donation drives throughout the year to help those in Houston – don’t let this be a one-time donation.
We can all help to build up this community to be #HoustonStrong once again!
~ Much love from the Package Concierge Team
A new school year is upon us. Time to gear up – mentally and physically.
Traditional back-to-school shopping in stores can be overwhelming. Aisles and checkout lanes get congested, hot supplies can sell out quickly. Sometimes you run around all over town looking for that one thing that doesn’t even seem to exist – like that elusive yellow pocket folder.
Purchasing school, even college, necessities online can be a huge time-saver. It can also be extremely beneficial for sparing sanity and conserving the bank account. Here are some of the top websites for all your back-to-school necessities from clothing to classroom supplies:
Target + Walmart
Target offers a larger variety of brands and price ranges in-store, but nothing really beats the Target.com feature “School List Assist.” It allows users to order a student’s entire school list with one click. Find all your supplies behind a desktop or click of a mobile device, and you’re all. Shoppers can either have the haul delivered or pick it up at a store. Like Target, Walmart.com also allows users to purchase entire school supply lists with one click.
The retail giant is an obvious go-to online shopping choice, especially when it comes down to big savings on textbook expenses. Amazon really does have it all in addition to reliable, fast delivery options. Students can also gain significant savings with a six-month free trial of Amazon Prime Student, and 50 percent off a Prime membership upon upgrade.
Staples + Office Depot
Staples has every type of in-classroom gear any student at any level could ever need, sometimes accompanied by great sales. Office Depot offers free delivery on qualifying orders of $9.99 or more if you’re in one of its local delivery areas. Oh, and your online order will be ready in an hour.
This isn’t really a typical place to shop for school necessities. It does offer great ideas for all types of school supplies, it also has so many different, unique products for purchase. You can search under
“buyable pins” for anything from clothing to pencils or even dorm room decor. Simply browsing Pinterest can also give people plenty of great ideas for repurposing old items or finding cheap, easy DIY projects.
Here’s a website where you can purchase bulk packages of dorm essentials at massive bundled savings. Everything you need for college, from bed sheets and cooking gear, to desk supplies and backpacks, is on dormco.com. And shipping is always $2.95 on your entire order, whether you order one time or 100.
If you’re just going for mega-savings, this is your best option, hands down. This is a great place to help stock up your teacher’s supplies too. Think pens, notepads, stickers, sticky notes, antibacterial wipes, tissues and even zip-lock bags. It is a one-stop shop to help provide some much needed supplies for those teachers who work so hard for our kids.
Back-to-school in Multifamily
Keeping in mind that 37 percent of American households rent rather than own – and 61 percent of these renters live in apartments – having a reliable way to retrieve packages is a must for a significant segment of back-to-school shoppers.
This is where apartment operators should take heed. Roughly 25 percent of your residents are currently in some state of back-to-school mode, and they crave a safe, secure and convenient place to get their items. This is another hidden season in which a package locker system – or package room for larger purchases such as bedding and desks – can make a world of difference for your residents and keep your leasing offices from pulling up with back-to-school supplies.
Whether consumers are picking up school gear at the store or getting it delivered, online shopping has undoubtedly transformed the art of back-to-school shopping. Apartment communities that provide a reliable place to receive the influx of new goodies are ahead of the game.
Some college textbooks seem to weigh about 12 pounds. Yet, it’s often the cost of these textbooks that weigh students down more than the actual pounds in their backpacks.
Textbooks have often-astronomical costs, adding several hundred dollars to an already pricey tuition fee. So now students, more than ever, are seeking alternative options in the form of used textbooks.
Websites such as Amazon, eCampus, Chegg and Valore Books offer textbooks at significant savings, changing the book-buying ways of many students. But ordering a textbook is one thing. Receiving it is another.
Student housing communities equipped with package lockers and package rooms make it easy for their students. Order it. Receive a message when it arrives. Pick it up. But for the many who live at communities that don’t offer a package service, the time-sensitive shipment might take significantly longer to get into your hands.
That puts the student in a tough spot, because you need a quick turnaround. You don’t want to be the one glancing at your neighbor’s textbook during the lesson, or someone who has to borrow one from a classmate while awaiting the arrival of yours.
Hopefully your student housing community has a reliable package management solution. But if it doesn’t, here are a few options for to consider for those who have ordered their textbooks but don’t have a surefire way to receive them in a timely, hassle-free manner:
Have them shipped to the home of a local friend.
Odds are that you know someone who lives in a house off campus, particularly if you’re an upperclassman. Ask if you can have the textbooks delivered there. Even if it means you have to pick up lunch on your shoestring budget, at least you’ll have your books in time.
Have them delivered to your hometown address.
If you have early access to the textbooks you’ll need, order them early. You can have them delivered to your parents’ house before your summer vacation ends. This also works if your college isn’t far from your hometown and it’s no problem to go retrieve them.
Get an off-campus post office box.
If you’re concerned about the way packages are handled at your community, perhaps it’s worth spending a few extra bucks on a P.O. Box. That way you’ll receive a slip in the mail when packages arrive instead of wondering how long it will take for your shipment to be sorted from the other hundreds of packages at the community.
Receiving your textbooks from a secondary source – often at a fraction of the rate – is a magnificent idea. Just make sure you have a way to retrieve them in a timely manner so it doesn’t backfire.
Tiny housing making big impact on combating homelessness in America
Affordable housing and providing access to quality housing is a vital social responsibility for the multifamily industry and something that is near and dear to the heart of Package Concierge, especially founder and CEO Georgianna W. Oliver. As such, we wanted to share with you this blog from Andy Helmer, CEO of Shelters to Shutters, a national non-profit working to help combat homelessness, on how our industry can make a difference.
The fight to end homelessness in this country is a massive undertaking. About 3.5 million Americans experience homelessness each year, according to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. Alleviating this problem in a meaningful way will surely require a multi-faceted effort involving federal, state and local governments, non-profits and the private sector.
Here’s one possible component of the solution to this giant issue: tiny homes. Across the U.S., organizations are using tiny houses and apartment homes, which typically range from 100 square feet to 500 square feet, to provide shelter for the homeless.
For instance, the nonprofit American Family Housing recently opened Potter’s Lane, a 16-unit community in Midway City, Calif., to house homeless vets. The property features 480-square-foot apartment homes made from energy-efficient shipping containers.
Across the country, in Newfield, N.Y., the nonprofit Second Wind Cottages, relying heavily on donated materials and volunteer labor, built a community of 12 tiny homes that house homeless men. Residents pay rent as they are able to help defray the community’s operating expenses.
Other examples of similar communities include the Tiny House Village in Seattle and the Community First! Village in Austin, Texas.
Advocates of these developments note that they are comparatively cheap to build, and constructions costs often are further mitigated through the use of materials and labor supplied for free by area businesses and residents.
Can the multifamily industry incorporate tiny apartment homes for the homeless into their communities? It’s certainly something to think about. With its ample resources and vast supply of creative and intelligent people, the multifamily industry should not be shy about stepping up to the plate to help address this critical issue, and tiny apartment homes might be one way to do that.
Another Piece to the Puzzle
Shelters to Shutters (S2S), a Fairfax, Va.-based nonprofit, offers another way for the apartment industry to reduce homelessness. S2S currently works with 23 apartment management companies – including such large operators as
AvalonBay Communities and Equity Residential – to place people experiencing homelessness in onsite, entry-level jobs and provide them with housing at the same communities at which they work.
Overall, these apartment companies have moved more than 100 people out of homelessness in the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Northeast, South and Texas. And they’ve gained hardworking, loyal associates in the process. The job retention rate for S2S participants is 92 percent while the average industry turnover rate, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council, is 31 percent.
S2S provides its apartment management partners with pre-screened, job-trained candidates for entry-level positions such as maintenance technicians and leasing agents. The organization focuses on the 70 percent of the homeless population who are situationally homeless due to a life-altering event such as job loss, medical or health emergency, divorce, domestic abuse or the loss of a primary income earner.
Whether it’s through tiny homes, working with nonprofits like S2S or some other method, the multifamily industry can make a real difference in the fight against homelessness. I strongly urge you to consider how you and your apartment company can do just that.
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