Skip the Stores: Browse the Web This Year for Back-to-School Necessities

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.

Amazon

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.

Pinterest

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.

DormCo

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.

Dollar Tree

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.

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Tiny House. Big Impact.

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.

Tiny homes have become a solution to homelessness. 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

How tiny would your tiny home be?

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.

Want to learn more about us? Click here to find out – Package Concierge

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Delivery Madness: Are you ready for Prime time?

MThere are so many items to purchase on Amazon Prime day!any who deal with package management on a daily basis breathed a hefty sigh of relief in January. The holiday season had passed, which presumably meant it’d be another 12 months before another rush of that magnitude.

Well, hold on a minute. We know there are a few hidden holidays that impact the number of packages delivered but what about “self-created” holidays?

Prime Day is Prime Time

One wouldn’t think a self-created holiday would create such mayhem. Well, unless that holiday is all about packages. Introducing the third annual Amazon Prime Day, which absolutely fits that billing.

Delivery carriers and managers are advised to gear up for this one, which begins at 9 p.m. ET on July 10. Amazon hypes the event as a “one-day only global shopping event for Prime members.” It’s essentially an online version of Black Friday, and you better believe it makes an impact.

The e-Commerce giant launched its second ever Amazon Prime Day on July 12, 2016, and it resulted in the biggest sales day ever for the online retail giant, according to CNBC.

Amazon declined to disclose how many people signed up for Prime to participate in the sale, but U.S. orders rose by more than 50 percent compared to the first Prime Day a year earlier.

Package Concierge is the best way to organize all of your packages coming in from Amazon Prime day.Now that Prime Day is fairly established, it’s a reasonable expectation that the numbers will continue to rise. Last year, Package Concierge’s lockers experienced a 30-percent increase of package deliveries two days after Prime Day. Here’s hypothesizing that the increase will be even sharper this year. With Business Insider predicting Amazon could rake in $1 billion in 30 hours, we’re guessing our lockers will experience a 40- to 45-percent spike this time.

More Prime Opportunities than Ever

As Prime Day increases in popularity, other businesses are teaming up with the retail giant. Jet Blue, for instance, is offering 3,000 TrueBlue points (the airline’s equivalent to mileage points) for those who sign up for a yearly subscription to Amazon Prime ahead of Prime Day.

As July 10 approaches, several publications have created their own spin about the day. Tom’s Guide, for instance, put together a checklist of items to buy and avoid on Prime Day.  The guide claims it’s an excellent time to purchase Amazon devices at a discounted rate, including Kindle, Echo and Fire Tablets. But you might have a harder time finding discounts for Apple devices, laptops and HDTVs.

The Wirecutter published an article outlining what to expect and how to find the best deals. PCMag, meanwhile, composed a story outlining what you need to know for the holiday.

Translation: Amazon Prime Day has become a big deal. It can rival the holiday season with regard to volume of packages, and we can’t wait to see the numbers for 2017.

With that in mind, here’s a list of five items we believe will be hot on Prime Day:

  1. Alexa-Enabled Portable Bluetooth Speakers: Just tap it and ask for music from Spotify, Pandora and other music services.
  2. Huawel Mate9 Smartphone: These tech-savvy devices typically retail for about $600.
  3. Everyday Essentials: Stock up on Prime Day or take advantage of Prime subscription services on all your everyday living needs.
  4. Sneakers: Prime Day isn’t solely about tech products. Shoe brands such as Adidas and New Balance are known to dish out the discounts as well.
  5. MacBook Pro: Even though Tom warned us there might not be many discounts on Apple products, according to Techradar, you might be able to save $100-$200 on one of these laptops.

And here’s another Prime Day Bonus for you: all of these items will fit in your Package Concierge® locker! Happy Shopping!

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Top 10 Hidden Holidays You Need To Prepare For

We all know about how the winter holidays always lead to a profound uptick in the number of packages your residents are receiving. But as ecommerce continues to rise exponentially, there are so many other times throughout the year when package delivery may surge at your properties. Check out our list of “Top 10 Hidden Holidays” you need to be prepared for:

You can find anything you need on the world wide web for the hidden holidays.

  1. Super Bowl Sunday. Once your team is out, you frantically buy gear for your de facto team of choice (let’s just say my son now owns a Falcons sweatshirt). Besides, how else are you going to get all football themes napkins, bowls, plates, etc. the Super Bowl Party?!
  1. 100th Day of School. Yes, this is a thing and not something we made up. It’s mostly celebrated by younger students sometime in February, as schools have fun with the number 100. Many Pinterest-loving mothers are known to order craft items at this time, which can lead to a sneaky increase of packages in some circles.
  1. Valentine’s Day. That oversized Vermont Teddy Bear isn’t going to drive itself to your significant other’s home. And neither is that sparkling necklace or whatever else you’ve ordered to make sure you’re not the goat on the international day of love.
  1. Memorial Day. Everyone wants to get away for Memorial Day. But it’s even better to leave town with that new tent, new fishing supplies, new tarps and other camping accessories. Late May always leads to a package boom.
  1. Independence Day. Yes, it’s illegal to ship fireworks by mail, so we’re not even going to go that route. But it’s also the heart of barbecue season and summer house parties, which leads to an uptick in online ordering of wide-ranging supplies.
  1. Amazon Prime Day. The monster online retailer held its first holiday exclusively for its own “Prime” members in July 2015, predictably resulting in an online ordering frenzy. 2016’s Prime Day, which Amazon touted as “one-day-only global shopping event,” was even bigger. The retail giant has vowed to bring back Prime Day this year although an official date has not been announced. So what can we expect from this year’s Prime Day?! If it’s anything like last year when we saw more than a 30% increase in packages two days after Amazon Prime Day, it will be one of the biggest package delivery days EVER!
  1. Back to School. Mid- to late-August means back-to-school time. This can create a sizable package rush, particularly for student housing communities. College students are continuing to seek alternative methods to purchase textbooks, such as sites like Chegg and eCampus, rather than buying them for full price on campus.
  1. Labor Day. While Memorial Day unofficially signifies the beginning of summer, Labor Day serves as its end-of-summer counterpart. That means one last chance to escape the grind. It also means heavy discounts on outdoor merchandise as retailers look to make a push before camping season ends.
  1. Pre-Halloween. While it’s a given that packages will arrive in droves during the Christmas season, this holiday can creep up on you. Some even call it a pseudo-holiday because no one ever gets the day off for Halloween, but expect a full package room as people continually opt to purchase their costumes online.
  1. Home Events. As families convene, host homes don’t want to disappoint. While orders of kitchen and culinary supplies increase, families also commonly spruce up their homes to make a favorable impression on their visitors.

Visit our website here to help you manage these holidays to come.

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Flawlessly Deliver the Gift of Love

Has this ever happened to you?

You spent hours researching and planning the perfect gift for your special someone. You went so far to make your purchase with a prepaid gift card online so they wouldn’t see what your ordered on the bank account. You had it all planned – nothing could ruin it. Or so you thought.

Valentine's Day packages

The package arrived but you weren’t home when it arrived so your special someone picked it up. They mindlessly open it and that perfect gift you spent so much time trying to surprise them with is staring them directly in the face.

All of that planning ruined with a misstep in the package delivery process. It is probably safe to say a lot people can relate to some part of this shipping mishap, and that’s unfortunate.

What is fortunate though, there is a solution for apartment dwellers: a package locker system.

Package Concierge® offers a robust and innovative interface for our locker installations providing every resident a unique, individual access code. That’s right, each person, not a code for the apartment home, ensuring there is no longer a potential the wrong person will pick up the package.

This practice in individuality will certainly come in handy this Valentine’s season when residents are really hoping to surprise their special someone with something they will love. In the last 3 years, we have seen a significant increase in the number of packages delivered the week before and the week of Valentine’s Day – some communities are receiving 50 percent more packages in these two weeks and seeing their package volume return to normal the week after.

How heartbreaking would it be if any of these packages were discovered before they were given? Show your residents some love and contact Package Concierge® today to set up an installation!

Still looking for that perfect gift? Check out these 5 online sites still offering 2-day shipping:

  1. Amazon.com – This is a no brainer if you are an Amazon Prime member. With access to hundred of thousands of gifts, you are sure to find exactly what you are looking for. And if you aren’t a Prime member, you can sign up for a 30-day trial to make sure your package arrives in time.
  2. Walmart.com – Now this may not evoke the spirit of Valentine’s Day but the major retailer has recently announced free 2-day shipping for any purchase more than $35. If your loved one is looking for something like a FitBit Charge, new camping gear or even the uber popular InstaPot, this might be a new go-to shopping site for you.
  3. Sharperimage.com – For those who enjoy a tech-savvy treat, Sharper Image has unique high-end gifts such as a light and massage therapy hair brush or heated indoor-outdoor slippers. Use promo code VDAY99 to get free 2-day shipping for orders over $99 till February 10th!
  4. MichaelKors.com – Speaking of high-end, this top designer ensures that amazing purse, luxurious wallet or killer pair of sunglasses will arrive on time if ordered by February 9th. Just be sure to use the code VDay for free 2-day shipping.
  5. Apple.com – For the tech lover in your life, order any Apple product by 5pm today to receive free 2-day shipping. Apple Watch for all!
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5 Million Mark: A Measure of Skyrocketing Ecommerce Industry

In some ways, 5 million represents the perfect storm.

While package delivery continues to increase exponentially in the ecommerce market, Package Concierge® has tirelessly aimed to keep a steady pace by installing innovative package lockers in as many locales as possible.

In Spring 2016, we surpassed the 2-million mark in package transactions. At the time, it signified a hefty achievement. But as consumers continue to gravitate to online shopping and nationwide demand for package solutions rises accordingly, we’ve experienced more than a 200-percent spike in package lockers installations.

With that, the number of package transactions has quickly ascended to 5 million.

5 million

To be clear, the 5 million figure isn’t something we’re thumping our chest about. In our eyes, the number more represents the thriving ecommerce industry and the suddenness of it. This hasn’t been a gradual rise – it has been meteoric. There is a reason why businesses are closing brick-and-mortar stores but continue to thrive overall. It’s because their merchandise is being ordered through a few clicks online, and consumers are utilizing package delivery at ultra-historic rates.

Ecommerce Increase Means More Deliveries

Internet sales accounted for a mere 3 percent of consumer expenditure as a whole in 2006. That number rose to 15.5 in 2016 according to Business 2 Community, and the U.S. is at the forefront of this global movement. Ecommerce is a $220 billion market in the U.S. and has grown at annual rate of 17 percent over the past decade.  This figure is likely to increase even more with Walmart’s recent announcement that is it offering free two-day shipping.

The trend within the trend is that consumers are not only shopping online, but increasingly doing so through mobile devices. Experts predict that mobile transactions (those conducted through smartphones and tablets) will account for 26 percent of retail ecommerce sales in the U.S. by the end of 2017.  This figure is likely to increase even more with Walmart’s recent announcement that it is offering free two-day shipping.

What to expect?

Packages are being delivered at such a fervent pace that Amazon is unveiling its own delivery service. The Wall Street Journal reported in July that ecommerce growth played a key role in 3.2-percent profit growth for the United Parcel Service. Naturally, Amazon’s decision to utilize its own deliverers could put a dent in overall numbers for UPS, FedEx and USPS. But no matter the method in which they are shipped, the packages will continue to arrive.

Looking to the Future

Along with the demand, residents are expecting to receive their packages in a convenient, hassle-free manner. That’s why we believe it is important to parallel the growth of ecommerce with solutions that fit.

Perhaps in six months or a year, we’ll view our 5 million package transaction as obsolete, as antiquated as the dial-up modem. But for now, the figure holds some clout when looking at ecommerce as a whole.

5 million.

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Amazon’s Forthcoming Addition of 100,000 Employees Underscores Package Boom

Warehouse worker taking package in the shelf in a large warehouse in a large warehouse

Warehouse workers search for their packages in an unorganized package room.

It is no secret that the trend is there. Package delivery is increasing on a daily basis, as millennials prefer the convenience of shopping from their phone.

Even older generations are beginning to resist shopping in stores, opting for the alternative of making a few clicks and waiting a few days for the package to arrive at their doorsteps. That’s why, despite strong industry-wide sales, prominent retailers such as Macy’s and Sears are closing many of their brick-and-mortar stores.

This trend is not a momentary blip. In fact, a recent proclamation by tech giant Amazon indicates package delivery will continue to steamroll in this direction for the foreseeable future. Amazon, widely known as the king of package delivery, has indicated that it will create 100,000 jobs in the U.S. by 2018, according to a recent article by USA Today.

Apartment operators should prepare accordingly, as this is not a knee-jerk move by Amazon. First Data reports that ecommerce’s share of retail sales in the holiday season was 21.3 percent, a hefty increase from the 15.4 percent of 2015. Expect the numbers to rise again in 2017, as the Internet now represents six percent of the total U.S. economy. And it’s not only going to grow during the holiday season. Package delivery is steadily increasing year around, with significant upticks around back to school, Halloween and even Mother’s Day.

If your apartment communities have not yet adopted a solution to combat the influx of packages – such as a smart room, package lockers or a package management team – now is the time. While many apartment owners/operators were ahead of the curve and enjoyed a much smoother 2016 holiday season, still a large number of the industry saw overflowing packages, leaving overburdened members of the leasing team with the cumbersome task of sorting through them.

In September, Amazon announced intentions to deliver its own packages, eschewing traditional delivery services UPS, FedEx and USPS by building its own delivery service. Now comes news of Amazon’s hefty six-figure addition of employees, with many of the positions slated for four soon-to-come fulfillment centers.

The additions of fulfillment centers in California, Florida, New Jersey and Texas have clear objective in mind: Get packages out more quickly. Amazon went from 56,200 employees in 2011 to 306,800 last year. Now 100,000 more are on the way to keep up with the country’s propensity to shop online.

The packages are coming at a historic rate and, as indicated by the actions of one of the nation’s premier tech giants, the breakneck pace will continue. Make sure you’re proactive rather than reactive, or you might end up beneath the pile.

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