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.
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.
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.
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.
Want to learn more about us? Click here to find out – Package Concierge
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.
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.
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.
The “Made in the USA” label is less common these days but it still packs significant selling power in America.
Yes, America has increased its overseas outsourcing of work – namely manufacturing and IT jobs – over the years. Since the late 1990’s, those manufacturing jobs have steadily declined.
While outsourcing jobs can help American companies stay globally competitive and create cost-reducing benefits for U.S. consumers, extensive reasons still exist to purchase American-made goods and services. These reasons go beyond the well-apparent benefits of job security and economy stimulation.
Package Delivery that’s Made In USA
Package Concierge® takes great pride in helping address the demand for U.S.-made goods by offering only American-manufactured locker systems.
Wilson, the maker of every football used in NFL games along with Harley Davidson, Gibson, Duraflame, Zippo and KitchenAid are big-name companies with iconic products that continue to stay true to homeland production.
General Electric and Wal-Mart made recent efforts to address the increasing demand for American-made. GE has started to produce some of its water heaters and refrigerators at U.S. factories. Wal-Mart, meanwhile, announced plans in April to purchase an additional $50 billion of American products over the next decade.
Despite so many cheaper foreign-made goods being utilized in the U.S., there are still many goods and services produced locally. Investing in a “Made in the USA” label encompasses wide-ranging benefits for U.S. companies and consumers, who prefer U.S.-made goods for reasons like patriotism, quality and economic benefits.
However, it can be a slippery slope as many companies and consumers aren’t as conscious of the concept as they believe. According to a 2015 survey by Consumer Reports, 80 percent of Americans say they prefer to purchase American-made goods. However, American spending habits show otherwise.
Here are a few reasons why we believe the “Made in USA” label is important:
Faster repair for broken parts
If an American-made product requires repair, it is much easier to get fixed. It will take less time to find the needed part as many parts are produced locally and those parts that are made outside the country are often stored nearby.
More environmentally friendly
Locally made products and services benefit the environment in a few different ways. Products made overseas, such as in popular U.S. manufacturing and IT hubs China or India, must be shipped across the ocean to America. This overseas transportation leaves a much bigger carbon footprint than shipping within the U.S.
Additionally, many countries don’t have the air and environment protection regulations that America does. Foreign-made products exported to the U.S. pollute the environment more, and many of these countries contain lax health statutes.
Weaker health regulations in foreign production facilities can eventually harm U.S. consumers. There have been instances of unsafe goods being recalled for containing dangerous chemicals. Many of these are toys for children. Our government, naturally, cannot control foreign labor standards.
Job security and economic benefits
When U.S. consumers invest in American-made products, they also invest in the workers who produce them. The money spent on American-made goods and services goes back to those U.S. companies and local workers, thus stimulating the American economy even more. Keeping money in the U.S. economy helps preserve jobs for future generations, boosts American investment opportunities and helps reduce the trade deficit.
Aside from the outlined reasons, there are numerous other benefits to utilizing American-made goods and services that extend into our industry.
Many property managers insist they’d like to exclusively partner with U.S. companies and stay true to American-made products. But like your neighbor who claims the same and purchases a Toyota, not many vehemently stick to the cause.
That leaves room for apartment operators to create a competitive differentiator by proudly touting their loyalty to American-made products. While it might not make a difference to everyone, it will to some.
Our solutions provide greater accessibility of innovative package management to the entire industry.
Atlanta, GA., June 22nd, 2017 – Today we are proud to announce the availability of two new products designed to further expand package management capabilities industry-wide: Package Concierge Express® and Package Concierge Package Room®.
The new Express® lockers are a more cost-effective option for apartment owner/operators seeking a comprehensive answer to their package management issues. The streamlined, all-steel construction, double-column locker modules are made in the USA by Package Concierge’s manufacturing partner, Florence Corporation, and a fellow subsidiary of Gibraltar Industries (Nasdaq: ROCK), and offer secure, 24/7 self-service, automated package lockers.
A recent study conducted by the National Multifamily Housing Council indicated that package management is now a must-have amenity in the multifamily industry, with 72 percent of residents wanting a package delivery/holding area readily accessible.
“New construction and luxury communities have embraced package lockers,” said Georgianna W. Oliver, chief executive officer of Package Concierge. “However, the upfront investment and locker size have hindered installations at smaller and older properties, as well as at Class B and C assets. The Express product line addresses the need for those communities that might not have the financial means for a significant investment – nor the space for a large installation – but are still dealing with the pains of high-volume packages. Now all properties have the same opportunity to streamline operations and provide their residents with a convenience-focused amenity.”
The new Express lockers are:
- Built of the same high quality, all-steel construction
- Made in the USA
- The kiosk which includes 12 lockers can be used as a standalone system
- Easier to install with its shorter stack and double column design
- ADA compliant for height and reach
- ETL Certified for Fire and Safety
Further expanding the accessibility of innovated and proven package management solutions, Package Concierge also now offers a Package Room Access Control System®. The Package Room® combines the best of both worlds utilizing the Express Locker kiosk, which includes 12 lockers, as well as a small room on a property to serve as an overflow solution. This combination can completely eliminate the management burden of handling packages, as it provides a designated space for larger packages that don’t fit into the lockers. Additionally, it offers the ability to use the room specifically for carrier pick-up of resident shipping and returns.
“As package delivery continues to escalate, it’s more important than ever to provide a timely, convenient service for residents,” said Oliver. “With the installation of the Package Concierge Express® system, owner/operators are ensuring residents have immediate access to their package deliveries on the day they arrive. As an added benefit, the leasing teams will have the time they need to focus on customer service instead of package management.”
Want to learn more? Click here to inquire for more details on how our two new systems can alleviate the stress of package management.
One in three.
That’s right: 30 percent of every online purchase is returned.
We already know that ecommerce is bigger than ever with people spending more than a $200 billion annually – a steadily rising number. It is estimated that online shopping has grown more than 17 percent over the last decade. And as more and more brick-and-mortar stores close their doors ecommerce is projected to further skyrocket.
While online shopping offers a greater convenience with the ability to shop 24/7 and from various devices, it still lacks the sensory appeal that comes with shopping at a brick-and-mortar retailer. As such, 60 percent of returned packages are due to either damaged goods, the product looks different than what was online or it was simply the wrong item.
A report released by Sanford C. Bernstein indicates that Amazon ships an average of 608 million packages each year, or 1.66 million daily. According to UPS, they deliver approximately 18 million packages daily during typical non-peak shipping periods while FedEx boasts 13 millions daily packages.
So what does this mean?
While these figures don’t take into account the massive upswing in package deliveries during the holiday season (think double the volume), we are looking at roughly 9 million packages returned every single day.
Package Concierge is further improving your package management solutions, and ensuring your leasing office and leasing team no longer have to deal with mountains of packages.
Shipping and Returns is now available from Package Concierge and operates through its package locker system. Similar to package pickup, residents have access to shipping and returns capabilities 24/7.
With Shipping and Returns available from Package Concierge, apartment owners and operators:
- Provide even greater convenience for your residents by allowing them to returns items they are unhappy with, as well as ship packages to their friends and family.
- Satisfied residents are more likely to renew their leases – more than 80 percent indicate that effective package management positively impacted their renewal decision.
- Offer efficiencies to burdened delivery carriers
- By taking advantage of their regular stops, carriers no longer have to make extra trips to pick up outbound shipments or returns.
- Generate ancillary revenue
- Whether or not you chose to charge residents for this service, you garner improved ROI through enhanced resident satisfaction.
Contact us today to learn more about how Shipping and Returns can further improve your package management!
After our initial shock when we saw the unprecedented traffic jam and bridge collapse on Atlanta’s major thoroughfare Interstate 85, the first thing we thought was: How is that going to affect package delivery?
When you’re in this business, those are the connections you make.
Atlanta features notoriously heavy traffic to begin with – the fourth-worst in the nation, according to INRIX – and the bizarre I-85 incident clearly won’t help. The bridge collapse on March 30 reportedly was due to a homeless man starting an accidental fire beneath an overpass. If that wasn’t enough to compound things, a portion of Interstate 20 buckled on April 17 due to an underground gas leak, which sent a biker airborne.
We’re not here to criticize traffic situations in particular towns, and we’re eager to see the vibrant city for the Atlanta Apartment Association’s 2017 Trade Show. But this spurred thoughts as to how much package delivery could increase in Atlanta, considering two of its major vessels have endured significant setbacks. Will the city’s residents be less eager to commute to brick-and-mortar stores when they can simply order items online? Will lunch-break shopping trips decline as residents are foregoing the traffic challenges and opting to work from home?
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, freight traffic traveling through the city is now being directed to I-285 to bypass the city until the projected June 15 reopening of the bridge on I-85. As more vehicles use the alternate route, times will slow for commuters and logistics firms alike. Toby Jorgensen, a senior analyst at CBRE research told the newspaper: “The hardest part is the last-mile consumer and business delivery.”
It will be compelling to see how consumers, businesses and apartment communities adapt to the newfound challenges.
In the tech-savvy city, perhaps drone delivery will start to become a larger part of things as well. Drones have the capability to bypass heavily congested freeways and drop off packages at an apartment community much more efficiently. Residents will have their shipments in their package lockers right on schedule. In the future, this might even advance a step further. Imagine living on the 18th floor of a swanky urban high-rise and having your package drone-delivered to your balcony.
Perhaps we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves here, but these are the things we think about when we’re heading to a new city for a conference. We’re excited for Atlanta and the opportunity to learn more about how different regions utilize package management. We’re just hoping we don’t have to spend too much time on the freeways.
P.S. We will be back in Atlanta for the National Apartment Association Education Conference and Expo starting on June 21st – wonder how the package situation will be different then? Either way, be sure to stop by and see us!