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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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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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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Student Housing Wants and Needs

Student

This week marks a special time for many college students: the beginning of the fall semester. Students may be feeling the pressure of getting all their books, supplies, and living essentials in order, especially if this is their first time away from home. One aspect that many may overlook or not spend enough thought on is exactly where they’re going to live. Students may be unfamiliar with the area and unsure of what to look for in a student housing community. Many have already made their living arrangements but there’s still an opportunity for “late registrations.” Here are the top things students look for in a community.

Proximity to Campus

Students will seek communities close to campus. However, these communities fill up and are more than likely completely leased. On the flip side, don’t count out students who are seeking a good deal on rent. If your community can’t offer a short distance to campus, make up for it through affordable rent. Students will trade a longer commute for savings in the long run.

Student Room Sizes

College dorms can be the equivalent of living inside a closet. That’s why many seek off-campus housing. Students need room to study in peace; there’s nothing worse than having a roommate playing video games three feet away from you while studying for the big exam. They also desire privacy; that’s why they’re interested in an off-campus community. Show students how you can provide space and privacy and you’ll have an upper hand.

Furnished Spaces

Think about this from a student’s perspective: the less they have to move, the more appealing a community is. Beyond the obvious, such as a bed and furniture, consider offering higher-end accommodations. These come in the form of installed televisions, kitchen utensils, and anything you can think of. Students move a lot when in college; give them an incentive to keep coming back. Making their lives easier for moving in can also help you with rent prices.

College is an important time in a person’s life. Your community can appeal to new student residents by finding a good balance of the list above. If your community isn’t that close to campus, have your rent reflect it, but know when to draw a line. Provide generously sized rooms and community spaces for peace and quiet. Finally, the less they have to move, the more likely they’ll come to you. If you can provide these staples, you’ll get more than just an “A for effort!”

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The Art of the Install

package locker systemsEvery amenity in a multifamily community should add value and make life enjoyable. Amenities shouldn’t be an eyesore; they should be inviting, exciting, and easy to use. Each Package Concierge we deliver is both an asset and accent for communities. We don’t just drop off an assembled locker system and drive away. We’ve created a dedicated installation process, which complements the community’s surroundings. Since every community is different, every Package Concierge is unique and tailor-made. This bespoke approach to package management isn’t the easiest, but every community deserves it and the installation is what makes the difference.

For a Package Concierge to be an anchor of the community, we have to think outside the box. No two communities are exactly the same and different configurations compliment architectural features, foot traffic, space, and even line of sight. Because we’ll visit the community beforehand to ensure the proper placement of the new system, we’ve become the top package locker system for architects and designers alike. The installation is where all points blend together.package locker systemsAn installation is an exercise in design thinking. It requires custom solutions for every inquiry and sale that comes in. This divergent approach has helped solve the package management problems of our customers. A Package Concierge never interferes with the lives of residents when not in use and the experience is naturally fluid when it is. Every installed system achieves both of these principles.package locker systemsYour package management problem is our solution. Our solution happens to be an installed amenity. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word amenity as “something that makes life easier or more pleasant.” This definition is the core of Package Concierge. Our goal as a company is to make lives easier. Whether you’re a resident, property manager, or delivery carrier, our system serves everyone in different ways. We’re going to take the time to not only deliver a system but ensure its seamless integration into the community. That’s the Package Concierge difference, the art of the install.

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More than Half Way There!

Red_Gray_Map_NEW315-01Recently, Package Concierge entered a thrilling chapter in our company’s story. We’re excited to let all of our friends and partners know that we’re now in 26 states across America! This is big news for us, especially since we’ve only been a company since December 2012. Even though our expansion across the country has been fast, we’d like to let everyone know that the credit goes to our amazing clients who believed in us early on such as Alliance Residential, The Bozzuto Group and The JBG Companies, and partners like Florence Manufacturing and The Container Store. When you think about it, our growth is great for everyone. Here are a few reasons why.

  • Expanding Technology: As we receive feedback from system users, we alter and tailor the user experience to truly reflect their wants and needs. In previous blogs, we mentioned examples of this such as our mobile app, systems with dry cleaning pick up, and even resident shipping and returns from Package Concierge lockers. These ideas stemmed from our expansion and user feedback. As this grows, so will the possibilities.
  • Secure and Safe Deliveries: Our expansion hasn’t been by accident; our clients and partners know that the name Package Concierge is synonymous with the words security and safety. This is a big driver in our growth and the more Package Concierge systems are out in the world; the more deliveries reach their final destinations instead of ending in the hands of unintended recipients.
  • Organization and Value for All: A Package Concierge system doesn’t just provide a delivery point for packages; it stimulates growth in other areas as well. For example, our customers see an increase in resident satisfaction, the end of untidy/messy package rooms, organized storage of packages on-site, and most importantly the saving of staff time. Also, because of the quality of our system, it is considered a valuable property asset, not just an amenity that is in high demand. These attributes help keep both residents and leasing agents happy, which in turn can keep a community thriving and growing.

As you can see, growth can be a very good thing. We’re not about to lose sight of what’s important to us, which is all who have helped guide us into this position. We assure you, we’re going to maximize upon our growth to make Package Concierge the best it has ever been. And soon enough, we’ll be crossing our 27th state line.

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Leap for Free Rent Day!

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What are you going to do with this extra day of the year? We have arrived at another intercalary year; better known as leap year. But when you think about it, this year renters receive an extra day in their properties for FREE! That’s right! So whom do we need to thank for this extra day of multifamily living? That answer goes back farther than you may realize.

Around 46 B.C., Julius Caesar decided that every four years we get an extra day added to the year to balance out the 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds that accompanies the 365 days it takes the earth to orbit the sun. Now, Mr. Caesar didn’t quite get leap year right the first time. That’s why over 1,500 years later Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian calendar to better regulate the bonus time of a year. His calendar added centuries to the equation, thus making years that are divisible by 100 and not divisible by 400.

The benefit of that extra day in February every four years is a “rent free day.” Most leases are based on 365 days in a year, which means renters score an extra day in their homes for free! This is definitely a reason for celebration and the last time we welcomed an extra day in the year, Package Concierge was just gearing up as a company.

In the leap year of 2012 Package Concierge was founded. And after only a few years we are in 26 states providing our services to multifamily and student housing properties. In 2015, we received the Customer Experience Innovation Award, a crowning achievement for a company less than 5 years old. Package Concierge believes in making the most of the time we have, and that’s why we are committed to providing our customers with the latest technological advancements in package management.

Package Concierge is serious about security and convenience all year long, whether its 365 days or 366. So, what are you going to do with your “rent free” day this year? Maybe, host a “rent free day” party? Whatever you do, make sure you and your friends thank Julius Caesar for the extra time we have in 2016!

 

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Valentine’s Day Recap

Vday-01-1At Package Concierge, we value our customers 365 days a year, but on Valentine’s Day, we like to show a little extra love. Last week, you may have noticed a lot of twitter pated people receiving packages from love birds near and far. For example, Ten Faxon (a Greystar property) and the Allegro (a Bozzuto property) saw close to double the amount of deliveries when compared to the week before. Here are some interesting facts and statistics about Valentine’s Day that might make you rethink the significance of packages on February 14th.

Did you know that next to Christmas, Valentine’s Day stands as the most active holiday for shipping gifts? In 2015, more than $18 billion was spent on Valentine’s Day cards and gifts; with items like flowers, jewelry, apparel and specialty gifts totaling more than $155 million. Valentine’s Day gift buying is expected to exceed $19 billion in 2016 according to Fundivo.com, with $142 being the average amount spent on gifts.

So what do these stats mean? Delivery carriers often face the challenge of ensuring that these tokens of affection reach their final destination on time and in pristine condition. While loved ones make the purchase, gifts go through many hands to ensure that Valentine’s Day is special for everyone. At the end of the day, gift givers want to make sure their sentiments are securely delivered. That’s where Package Concierge steps in.

Security isn’t just found in our rigorously tested materials but also in our technology. When a recipient is sent a gift, they’re immediately notified that a package has arrived. Then, they simply go to the Package Concierge where their item is being held to pick it up. We believe every package that goes into our system is priceless. So whether it’s Valentine’s Day or any other day of the year, just know that gifts of all sizes, shapes and prices are made more secure inside a Package Concierge locker and we hope that your treasures found their recipients quickly for the special day.

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