Increasing Demand: Renter Survey Indicates Desire for Package Solutions Continue to Rise

High-speed Internet wasn’t a high priority for apartment residents in the past. Nowadays, it’s not only a demand – it’s an expectation.

The preferences of renters will evolve as technology evolves.

At the cusp of that ever-changing concept is the increasing demand for a package solution. According to the 2017 NMHC/Kingsley Renter Preferences Report, 57 percent of those renters surveyed were very interested or highly interested in package lockers. And 47 percent indicated they receive at least three packages per month, which coincides with the interest in package solutions.

The rising expectations correspond with the skyrocketing trend of ecommerce.  One can reasonably project that more than 80 percent of renters will desire a package solution within the next few years. Questions about packages weren’t even included in the 2015 version of the bi-annual renter survey. Since then, we have monopolizing e-commerce giants validating the need for the product and entering the multifamily industry.

Apartment renters are a clever bunch. They notice when a community cannot keep pace with the rising influx of packages. If you don’t believe it, just take a look at community reviews on Yelp, Google or Apartment Ratings.

While package preferences are definitely worth monitoring, here are a few other notable findings from the renter survey, which is the largest ever of apartment residents. More than 272,000 respondents took part.

Other must-have community amenities

Reliable cellphone reception, naturally, is an expectation for renters. Of those polled, 92 percent are interested and 78 percent of those interested won’t least without it. Secure resident parking (88 percent interest) and secure amenity access (84) also rate highly.

Must-have apartment features

We mentioned that high-speed Internet wasn’t always an expectation for renters. Now, 93 percent are interested and 63 percent will not lease without it. That is surpassed only by air conditioning with regard to apartment features, of which 94 percent are interested and 92 won’t rent without.

Renting is a lifestyle, not a necessity for many

People rent for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they just moved to town, are saving for a down payment on a home or are between homes. But the top reported reason, which is a key characteristic of the millennial demographic, is the desire for convenience and flexibility. Twenty-three percent of those polled rated this the primary reason why they rent.

Reviews, short-term rentals gaining popularity

Four out of five renters indicated that reviews influenced their decision, which is a concept that is continuing to evolve. Another growing trend is the desire to generate income through short-term rentals, utilizing home-share services such as Airbnb. This is particularly true among younger renters. Of those aged 25 or younger, 49 percent reported interest in short-term rentals (only 32 percent of those aged 65 or higher were interested).

Preferences of renters will continue to reconfigure, particularly with the onslaught of smart-home technology. The challenge for apartment operators is to keep pace with their demands.

 

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Package Concierge® GM and Founder, Georgianna W. Oliver, Talks with BostonVoyager

Package Concierge® GM and Founder Georgianna W. Oliver is passionate about bringing innovation to the multifamily industry. Recently, she spoke with BostonVoyager about starting Package Concierge and how it changed package management in the apartment industry.

Great things are happening in the world of package management. And we at Package Concierge are thrilled to continue to lead solutions in addressing today’s and tomorrow’s package management needs.

Today we’d like to introduce you to Georgianna Oliver.

Georgianna, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Package Concierge was founded in December 2012 in Medfield, MA as the 1st innovative system for packages in apartment buildings. Our first live installation was in October of 2013 at Chelsea Place Apartments in Chelsea, MA. Now, there are over 800 systems (including over 100 in the Boston MSA) across the country and last week we hit the 10m package transaction point.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The biggest struggle was changing the way the property managers thought about ways to manage incoming packages. Before Package Concierge, they had to log, store, notify and retrieve every single package or risk theft if the package was left at an apartment door. Once we had our first installations and the residents fell in love with the convenience, our sales doubled year over year as the industry embraced this new technology.

Read the rest of what Georgianna W. Oliver had to say here.

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INFOGRAPHIC: Package Concierge® Is Committed to Providing the Best Package Management Solution

Did you catch the latest news from Package Concierge®? We are so excited to have surpassed the 10 million packages managed mark!  We are committed  to providing the most innovative, Made-In-America package locker solution. Our software and lockers exceed expectations for both your on-site teams and your residents.

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Work-at-Home Businesses Require Package Efficiency

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.

An increasing number of millennial and Gen-Xers are operating businesses out of their homes; representing companies such as LuLaRoe, Matilda Jane, Thirty-One and Etsy.

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:

  • Clothing
  • 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.

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Technology Implementations Today, Avoid Budget Busters in 2018

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.

Sound familiar?

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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Finding Cheaper Textbooks Half the Battle, Receiving Them Promptly is the Challenge

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.

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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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Hardwire Internet has important edge over Wi-Fi for Apartments

The world is linked by wireless Internet, but even Wi-Fi can experience some connection tangles from time to time.

While, Wi-Fi is a more popular, widely used method of Internet connection these days, don’t be so quick to bail on the good ol’ Ethernet cord – at least for the backend of your apartment community. Wi-Fi is more convenient and tops the resident demand list, but a trusty hardwire connection is immensely more secure and challenging to hack.

Convenience is a great sell, and your property probably won’t meet its occupancy goals without wireless access for daily use in your resident’s apartment homes. You have to have it. Although, when it comes to operations, nothing beats top-notch security, especially digital security, which some residents don’t realize they actually need.

The Package Concierge Premier system is eye catching at Blair Tower.As more apartment communities begin to rely on Internet connection for day-to-day operational functions, like rent payment portal sites and electronic package locker systems, property managers should consider some of the pitfalls of a wireless connection before rolling up the Ethernet cables for good:

Wi-Fi signals commonly drop with interference

Wireless doesn’t have as stable an Internet connection as a hardwire because it only works within a certain range, and is more susceptible to interference and objects blocking the signal. Any wireless user can vouch a Wi-Fi signal can get pretty feisty.

In an apartment community, if the wireless were to go out, it could disable an entire system that operates via Internet. If Wi-Fi loses a signal during a streamed video or game, it’s an annoyance. If the signal goes out at an apartment community running package lockers or a security gate system, it potentially puts residents’ safety and possessions at risk.

Wireless offers easier setup, less return on investment

A downfall of hardwired Internet is the setup and connection takes a bit more time and work to configure than Wi-Fi. However, hardwire is a vastly more consistent, and even faster, connection once it’s up and running. Property managers will get back what they put into setting up a more secure connection system for residents.

The return on investment from a hardwire connection is worth the initial time. Residents are more likely to use something that works efficiently, without many issues. Wi-Fi is quicker and easier, but will likely have more problems down the road, draining management’s time and energy and taking associates away from other important community tasks.

Not as much data protection

Since hardwired Internet is more difficult to hack, it is also better equipped to guard data than a password-protected, private Wi-Fi connection. When overseeing many different residents in an apartment community, data protection is crucial not only for the management’s sensitive and private information, but also for the protection of residents’ personal information and privacy.

Wireless encryption standards are always being changed because the connection is just not safe. With a hardwire everything is contained.

Of course, we are not suggesting to move to hardwire.

Smartphones have drastically changed the way we must think about cyber security and wi-fi capabilities.

Cell phones use wireless connection, so different resident and community apps are exclusively Wi-Fi driven. However, keep in mind, some community amenities that utilize Internet can benefit from connection via hardwire, like [Package Concierge’s] electronic package locker systems.

Wi-Fi is definitely convenient and a must-have amenity that residents demand in their homes. However, for an apartment community on an operational level, it’s not necessarily offering residents the security and reliability they need, which hardwire provides.

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Avoid a Package Tower! A Recap of Fun Shared During the NAA Learning Zone

The multifamily industry is constantly spawning fresh innovations year after year. What’s a better way to learn about some of the cool, pain-reducing apartment technology than with a little friendly competition?

At this year’s NAA Conference and Expo in Atlanta, we explored package management advancements in our Learning Zone. Participants played “Avoid the Tower of Boxes,” a hands-on experience of the common package management pain-point plaguing our industry today. We hoped to deliver that “ah-ha” moment about why things don’t have to be that way anymore.

Allison Blair discusses the importance of having a package management system in place.With the rise of online shopping, packages are towering up daily in leasing offices, and it’s only going to get worse. Leasing professionals face a daily average of 30 resident packages delivered on-site requiring significant time management. Onsite team members must stop what they’re doing to process packages, which can take at least 5 minutes per package. Add to that the struggle of finding a place to store all those packages and you’re bound to fall victim to a tumbling tower.

And so, the tower begins

Our Learning Zone attendees were challenged in a cordial tower-building battle to simulate manual package processing vs. managing packages with a package locker system. It was truly an eye-opening experience.

Teams were each given 20 boxes separated into five daily operational activities, such as maintenance requests, tours and calls. Each box had entertaining icebreaker questions written on them. Participants discussed things like “where was your favorite vacation?” and “what is one thing on your bucket list?”

Once everyone in the group answered each question, that team could start building their tower. The faster they talked, the faster they could start building. Needless to say, things got a little loud (isn’t funny how when people talk faster they tend to get louder?).

But there was a catch. One of the teams had three boxes that read: “Stop. You get five packages.” These three boxes represented the interruption caused when a package is delivered to the office. Obviously, this team took much longer to build the tower, and inevitably finished last. This exhibits how much of a drain manually processing packages truly is on overall time management.

Then the “ah-ha” moment…

While our little competition was friendly, it did showcase how innovative package management solutions can profoundly impact daily operations. Without interruption, leasing teams can focus more on customer service for both prospects and residents.

This is what package lockers and package rooms deliver – continuance. For both your operations but more importantly, your residents. With a package management solution in place, they have access to their packages 24/7. They no longer have to wait for the leasing office to open or for a staff member to retrieve their package. They can come home, retrieve their own package and get back to their life, uninterrupted.

The Package Concierge Premier and Express System compliment one another at NAA 2017.We hope our competitors enjoyed the game and got a sense of what it’s like for leasing team members at communities with – and without – a package management solution.

Visit us at www.packageconcierge.com for more details.

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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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