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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Package Deliveries Doubled Last Week!

package deliveriesGeorgianna W. Oliver, CEO

Package Deliveries Are on the Rise!

Everything just exploded for packages for 2016 holiday season. Last week, Package Concierge saw an increase in package deliveries from 87,500 packages to 151,000 in just one week! This includes carry over from Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, but the numbers are still impressive. The package load has doubled and will continue at this pace for the next two full weeks.

What Can Property Managers Do to Tame the Package Beast?

1. Keep the Lockers Moving. Send out mass notifications to all residents about their package deliveries. Packages sitting in the lockers can create storage issues. Space is a premium and the failure to pick up their packages can impact future package deliveries. There is only so much space to go around and package deliveries won’t wait!

2. Implement Daily Storage Fees for Packages Left 3-5 Days. Contact your salesperson or client services manager for help with turning on the daily storage fee feature.

3. Turn off Shipping and Returns until January 1st. If your property is currently using the function that allows residents to ship/return packages through the lockers, it’s taking up valuable space for deliveries during this high peak time.

4. Increase the Number or Frequency of Notifications. You can increase the number of notifications residents receive about their packages in a day. How? Through the Package Concierge management portal! More frequent notifications will help expedite pick up times.

5. Double Check All Lockers Are Available. Remember, the Package Concierge automatically takes a single locker offline if there are any issues. An example is an open locker for an extended period of time.

This is a busy time of year for property managers in apartment buildings! Package Concierge is here to help ease the pressure of all your package delivery needs.

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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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15 Apartment Living Essentials

Apartment Living Essentials

Apartment Living Essentials

While it’s still scorching outside, summer is giving way to fall and for many, it’s moving time! From normal moves into new communities to students gearing up for the upcoming semester, prepare to see moving trucks soon. Moving can be a difficult, timely and stressful event even for the most experienced. Without fail, you’ll reach a point where you’re asking yourself “Where did I put ______?” or “Do I have _____?” You may not even realize you need something after throwing it away during the process. So, we made a list of the top 15 apartment living essentials, along with a brief explanation just in case you don’t see the whole picture. You may not even be moving, but this list serves all apartment residents.

  • Trash bags – Definitely number one on our apartment living essentials list. Ever run out of these and had to make a late night run to combat overflowing garbage? It’s not fun, so always have a surplus!
  • Proper Bedding – We’re going to assume you already have a bed here, but good bedding goes a long way. Nice sheets, a comforter, pillows, etc. We also recommend having two different sets; one on the bed and the other cleaned and stored away. You never know when a loved one may need to spend a night.
  • Towels – There’s no such thing as too many towels. If it requires absorption, towels can save the day.
  • Basic Utensils – We’re not living in the Stone Age so cutlery and kitchen utensils are a must. Even if you don’t cook, don’t assume the delivery guy has a plethora of sporks to hand out!
  • Emergency Supplies – Keep a first aid kit, flashlights, batteries and candles in your apartment for an unlikely emergency. You’ll find comfort in knowing you’re prepared during a power outage or dinner prep gone bad.
  • Furniture – Another obvious one but a nice couch, table, chairs and coffee table can transform an apartment. Also, who wants to spend time in an apartment with just a bed? You might creep your friends out too. Clean and functional furniture doesn’t have to be expensive. Crates do NOT count as chairs!
  • Good Blinds or Drapes – Not all, but some apartments don’t have either of these when moving in. Even if you do have blinds or drapes, a good set can be serious savings on electricity. Look at what makes sense but the darker they can make your apartment, the more money you save on utilities.
  • Lamps – Sometimes overhead lighting in an apartment is lackluster or even nonexistent! Cheap floor lamps will do the trick to keep you out of the dark.
  • Electrical Accessories – It’s better have too much than not enough when it comes to these items. We’re talking about power strips, extension cords or device chargers etc. You’ll kick yourself if you’re one inch from the wall outlet or if a power surge ruins your coffee machine.
  • Toilet Paper – We aren’t going into detail on this one. Buy in bulk!
  • Artwork – Like furniture, nice artwork can brighten up a room and help set a tone. It doesn’t have to be costly either; some framed posters of famous art can do the trick. If you’re feeling more adventurous, go to flea markets and garage sales for cheap and one of a kind piece.
  • Toolset – Even if it’s a cheap one, you’ll end up using it. How else are you going to hang your art around so your apartment doesn’t look like a hospital room? Make sure it has the most basic essentials: Flat head and Phillips head screwdrivers, hammer and pliers can work wonders.
  • Cleaning SuppliesKeep your apartment clean! Simple cleaning kits are available at most drugstores and supermarkets. A simple sponge and soap can make a huge difference.
  • Spare Set of Keys – This is the last one on our list but it’s essential. Make a spare set of your keys and give them to a loved one in case of emergency or you lock yourself out. Alternatively, hide them under a doormat or somewhere outside your door. Paying for a locksmith comes out of YOUR pocket and it’s an expensive mistake to make!

Your Apartment = Your Home

These 15 apartment living essentials will make your apartment a happy home. They seem like common sense but some can go unnoticed. It’s better to have them on hand instead of going out to get them one-by-one. You can even order these items straight from Amazon.com if you have time to spare. You may have some of these already, but take some time on your next shopping trip to round off the list. Doing so will keep your apartment and life in good shape!

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Gardens for Better Communities!

gardens

In our last blog, we discussed the hottest amenities for 2017. One amenity caught the eyes of our readers: gardens and vegetation. Having greenery around a property is nothing new, but showcasing it as an amenity is. Take Fuse Cambridge for example. This year, they installed a Living Green Wall (seen above) by Cityscapes, which has more benefits than just visual appeal. Content producer Lauren Shanesy writes, “In addition to complementing Fuse’s LEED Silver certification, the plants themselves aid in providing natural air filtration, sound insulation, and thermal regulation within the space while reducing residents’ stress levels, as well”. A wall of vegetation may not work for your community, but a community garden might. With communities competing for new residents, appealing to green thumbs can be a great angle.  Here are three reasons why a community garden is a way to separate your community from others.

Save on produce costs

A community garden is great way to give residents a way to grow their own produce. Health conscience residents will spend top dollar at the grocery store for organic produce. What if you gave residents a way to grow produce that meets their needs? If you can market this interest, it can be a selling point. Residents may love the idea, but may have never had a garden. Nothing a community event can’t solve! Current green thumbs may see interest in leading a few community classes to help. This can help your community get more social while growing healthy produce for all to enjoy! Sounds like a win/win to us.

Low Costs for Gardens

The cost of starting a community garden can vary, but the majority of the cost is up front. This will be in the form of tools, fencing and other gardening staples but the investment is worth the costs. Todd Tibbits, senior vice president of property services for Post Properties states: “Community gardens pay for themselves in the same way a community pool or tennis court does – in resident satisfaction.” Plus, many communities cover costs through plot rental fees. The cost is low since the residents are responsible for the care, but going back to point number one, money for produce goes into the garden and not the grocery store.

Increased Property Values

Studies have shown that high-quality community gardens can increase property values in neighborhoods. The largest increases are in lower-income communities but higher-income communities see a bump too. To keep the garden higher quality, a landscape professional can provide some consultations and advice. This will help everyone in the community understand how to maintain the investment. Higher property values can give a boost to your revenue in the long term so protect your asset!

Community gardens are a great way to engage with residents. With the right marketing, residents find value in knowing where their produce comes from. The cost of starting a garden is upfront and can offset with minor plot rental fees. Finally, the garden can boost property value. Interested in finding out more? Consult with a local landscaping professional to see what’s possible. Never forget that a little green goes a long way!

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2017 Amenities – The Year of the Garden

amenitiesAmenities play a major role for residents joining a community. There are the typical amenities, such as a clubhouse and a gym, but apartment renters expect unique offerings to make a community their home. Amenities are a deciding factor. Like all things, amenities are subject to trends and popularity. While 2017 seems far away, the newest trends in amenities are coming into the spotlight. If you’re responsible for the budget, you should take these amenities into consideration before letting the ink dry.

Gardens

Yep, 2017 is the year of the garden! From living art walls to herb and vegetable gardens, community vegetation is on the rise. Not only do they promote social interactions amongst residents, they provide access to healthy food! Many city communities are adopting these ideas so residents can step out of the urban jungle while they’re home. While they’ve been around for a while, expect to see a significant increase in 2017. Read more about community gardens in our next blog!

Luxury Experiences

When residents come home from a hard day of work, they want to relax. There are a few ways to do this and in 2017, having a taste of the good life will be a selling point. What could be better than grabbing a bottle of your favorite wine from the secure on-site wine cellar? Maybe a massage from the on-call masseuse in a private therapy room is more your speed. There are communities even starting to install commercial grade kitchens for guest chefs and test kitchen events. We bet a few people could get used to that kind of life.

Package Management

Package management has been a hot amenity for the past few years, but the trend will continue to grow since capabilities have expanded. Examples include dry cleaning pickup and outbound shipping from the lockers themselves. The customization levels have also improved; custom colors and even seasonal wraps are available. The peak of innovation hasn’t hit this amenity yet! Expect package management to be a more “standard” amenity starting in 2017.

Amenities of Tomorrow, Today

2017 is just around the corner. Providing amenities that draw residents in has always been important, but the difference today is in the diversity. These three amenities are a good way to stand out from the competition and they could be a deciding factor for new residents and for renewals. Knowing what your community wants is important, but providing what they didn’t know they wanted works wonders. An amenity today can mean happy residents and more profit tomorrow!

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Budget for Amenities!

budget

A Budget Including Amenities Can Help You See and Save Green!

It’s that time of the year again: the preparation of next year’s budget for your community. Your budget is likely to cover a lot of different areas; from marketing and sales to staffing and screening. While these are necessary for the property to keep functioning, make sure to make room for amenities. Amenities can increase occupancy and drive increased revenues. It can also be used in your marketing efforts to generate leads. When budgeting for amenities, there are a few things you need to consider. If you follow these three steps, you’ll be good as gold!

Survey

The best amenity is a wanted amenity. A good way to gauge interest in a potential amenity before purchasing is to survey your community. What do they want? What amenity adds convenience for them? What’s going to make them want to renew their lease? You may think your community desperately needs a guinea pig playroom, but you better check first. An amenity collecting dust is a waste of money and isn’t generating ANY revenue.

ROI

Stemming off of the first point, when you figure out what amenity or amenities your community wants, it’s important to consider the ROI. You don’t want to commit to an amenity with a short lifecycle. You’re looking for an investment with long-term results. This can be challenging, especially when trends can come and go. Doing your due diligence through research will be vital to making sure your addition isn’t a dud. Find industry resources that can provide the data you’re looking for. Numbers don’t lie and they can be a great guide for keeping up with trends in multifamily!

Scout

Ok. You’ve listened to the community and you’re devastated about their lack of concern for the guinea pig playroom. You’ve also taken their suggestions and done some research on your own. Still hesitant about pulling the trigger on a certain amenity? Find a community that has what you’re looking for and go see it! For example, if you’ve been researching package lockers, find a community with a system. When you get there, ask to see the system, but also ask their opinion. Have the lockers made residents happier? Have they seen an ROI yet or expecting to? How do they work? Don’t hesitate to ask questions from an unbiased party before going into a sales process.

No one likes to budget. It’s time-consuming and can be difficult to stick to if problems should arise. But a proper budget can drive additional and recurring revenue if there’s room for an amenity. Then it’s just a matter of researching and selecting the amenity that will have the highest impact on ROI. Finally, go see it in action somewhere! An amenity can be just what your community needs to grow and thrive. Choose wisely and budget appropriately!

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Catch Residents with Pokémon Go!

Pokémon GoPokémon Go Can Help Multifamily

On July 6th, 2016, an event of monumental proportions happened: Pokémon Go was released. The game has already revolutionized mobile gaming and is uniting people across all generations. Niantic Inc. developed the game through a licensing deal with Nintendo, the majority stakeholder of the franchise. The deal has proven to be fruitful; Nintendo’s market value jumped an astounding $7.5 billion since release! The game is simple: “catch” Pokémon with your phone in different areas of cities and towns. The game is a based on “geolocation,” GPS locations and landmarks, so one has to walk around to progress through the game. There are “Pokestops” and “Gyms” where people can get rewards, play against other Pokémon and find new Pokémon. So why should you care? This can be a golden marketing opportunity for multifamily communities. You can actually drive potential residents to your property with the game!

Pokémon Go is a “free to play” style game. This means that one can play for free, but upgrades are purchasable through an online store. One of those items is a “Lure Module,” which draws Pokémon to a certain location for 30 minutes. They cost about 99 cents per lure. The lures need to be set within proximity of a Pokestop (currently). Your community may already be a Pokestop or Gym; you just need to check in the game. Super geeky, right? Well, businesses have caught on and are driving traffic to them because people playing see where lures are and stop to get the free items. So how can a multifamily community benefit?

Marketing With Pokémon Go

If you could set lures or Pokestops at and around your property, you have a lead generation tool at your fingertips. In an interview with the Financial Times, Niantic C.E.O. John Hanke said that “sponsored locations” are coming to Pokémon Go. When this becomes available, why not set Pokestops around key amenities on-site? The pool, the gym, the locker system, the clubhouse, etc.; the list goes on and on! While people of all ages are playing the game, Millennials are playing the game the most (it’s a nostalgia thing). You can put the word out on social media about having a “Pokémon Tour” around the property. When the event starts, have players provide their contact information and walk them around the property to the different stops. They get Pokémon while you’re showing off key amenities and layouts to potential residents! It’s a win/win for everyone!

What about a “Pokémon Go Mixer” for current residents? Provide food and drinks while setting up Pokestops around the property. Have residents team up in groups and send them around the property to collect their goods. This will encourage meeting new neighbors and friends. Right now, you can lead residents around the area and collect Pokémon and items. Pair this with your other marketing initiatives (are you live streaming yet?) and you’ll have current and future residents hooked.

Get Ahead of the Game

In conclusion, this is a huge opportunity to show off your community and gain some new faces. Pokémon Go is still very new and Niantic is working out the bugs and creating more features. The ideas above are just a few examples of how your multifamily community can capitalize on the excitement as new content and features are released. So go out there and “Catch ‘Em All”… residents that is!

To play and learn more, download Pokémon Go from the iTunes App Store or Google Play Store.

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