As the number of deliveries continues to climb, current multifamily package management solutions leave property managers, delivery providers, and residents with inefficient solutions. From off-site package management to on-site package lockers and package rooms, each option solves only one small part of the larger package problem. All the while, towering piles of boxes continue to grow and missed delivery slips pile up.
As part of designing our new solution, Latch Delivery Assistant, Latch did an exhaustive amount of customer and user research, including customer interviews and market analysis. This paper is the summation of what we’ve learned, and why we believe an integrated solution for package management is the solution multifamily buildings have been waiting for.
The Latch Delivery Assistant delivers a comprehensive solution that enables easier delivery provider access, streamlined operations for building staff and a more convenient experience for residents. By bringing every element of package management together in a single solution, the Latch Delivery Assistant makes the growing package problem obsolete.
As the number of eCommerce purchases continues to climb, it’s an all-too-common scene to find package rooms overflowing with boxes or lobbies stacked high with daily deliveries. There’s one primary reason: multifamily buildings are not equipped to handle the skyrocketing volume of package deliveries.
But it isn’t just the increase in volume that is contributing to this widespread problem. Inefficiency in how packages are dropped off, inadequate or ineffective storage solutions, and delays in package pick-up all contribute to the current battle multifamily buildings are facing across the country.
While some solutions exist to address these problems, like package lockers and virtual doormen, they largely address the symptoms rather than the root cause. Instead of a seamless solution that eliminates the burden on property managers and delivery providers, the current approaches are inflexible and require additional effort on the part of building staff or the delivery providers themselves.
In order to address the package problem and create a better experience for delivery providers, building staff, and residents, multifamily buildings must look at the package problem through a more holistic lens.
A solution that facilitates package delivery from end-to-end is the integrated answer that residents want and that delivery providers and multifamily buildings need. By enabling seamless access, simpler package management, improved package security, and automatic resident delivery notifications, a single system for package management is the only way to lessen the burden on property managers and delivery providers for multifamily buildings to overcome their current deluge.
As residents begin to purchase more online, multifamily buildings are seeing a major influx in packages. Some buildings report as many as 1,000 packages per month, causing them to look for innovative storage solutions to accommodate the climbing daily volume. Existing solutions, however, operate in isolation and fail to solve the package problem from beginning to end for property managers, delivery providers, and residents.
As a result, 68% of building staff report spending between one and four hours per week simply keeping up with resident deliveries, creating a situation where both residents and building staff are lacking an efficient and seamless way to handle the package problem.
This ineffective approach to packages isn’t just a logistical headache: it’s also impacting buildings’ bottom lines. In 2015 Houston-based Camden Property Trust estimated that they lost 10 minutes of productivity for each package delivered across its 59,000 units—when paying employees $20 an hour, that adds up to over $3 million lost.
Similarly, 27.24% of residents indicated they’ve experienced problems firsthand when receiving their packages. This can cause problems for buildings with resident retention and increased turnover, again decreasing revenue in the long run.
As multifamily owners and operators struggle to keep up with the steadily climbing number of packages, they have a handful of available solutions to attempt to address the problem: lockers, package rooms, off-site package management, and lobby and office storage.
Newer buildings had the opportunity to anticipate the package problem on the horizon as eCommerce has steadily grown over the past decade. As a result, many new or luxury buildings have a dedicated package room designated for deliveries. Older multifamily buildings have also adapted, creating package rooms to solve for the growing package problem. As a result, nearly 75% of buildings store packages either in a mail room or separate storage area.
Though having a designated space ensures residents know exactly where to pick up their packages, package rooms don’t equate to easy entry for delivery providers. Property managers must grant them access each time they arrive or give them a unique credential for their intercom or access system, increasing delivery time for providers and adding another thing to property managers’ to-do lists.
As package volume grows, it also becomes more challenging for buildings to organize daily deliveries without pulling resources from other areas, like trash collection or building maintenance. Because delivery providers are often piling boxes as they scan them, packages often become disorganized and difficult for residents to locate—especially because they aren’t notified that the package has arrived—in turn creating delays in pick-up or forgotten boxes. These delays then cause even more disorganization, creating a vicious cycle for residents who are simply looking to find their items in the growing chaos.
Security is another primary resident concern when it comes to package rooms. Without restricted access, packages are susceptible to theft or tampering. With homeowners reporting up to $11 million in packages stolen annually, the security and safety of packages across real estate classes is a legitimate concern that not all package rooms are equipped to address.
If buildings don’t have a dedicated package room space, they often turn to a stand-alone package locker solution. Designed to securely store packages, the lockers can be placed in any area of a building, from a lobby or mailroom. Because package lockers are freestanding, they don’t take up as much space as a dedicated package room. This allows buildings without extra space to adopt a more modern package management solution—without renovating or sacrificing office space. Package lockers can also be customized or branded, allowing building owners to choose the look and feel to ensure it blends with the existing aesthetic.
While package lockers increase security by storing packages in individual compartments, there is one primary challenge: capacity. Though package lockers are available in many sizes and shapes to suit a buildings’ unique needs, each locker can typically only store one package. Some have oversized locker compartments available for large or oddly shaped packages, but as oversized deliveries increase 110%, this can cause significant storage issues even if a locker system is in place.
Buildings with dozens of packages arriving per day quickly run out of both normal and oversized locker space, making the locker ineffective due to sheer volume alone. Overflowing packages often end up stacked on the floor or in nearby bins, effectively negating the security benefits of the locker in the first place and failing to give residents the peace of mind they’re looking for.
Package lockers also require significant effort by delivery providers. Once the provider has gained access to the building, they then must scan each individual package into the locker system. As they operate on an already-tight timeline—and even more so during peak delivery season—this often results in boxes simply being dropped off in the lobby or next to the locker. When delivery providers fail to scan the packages into the system, residents do not receive a delivery notification, which again leads to delayed pick-up and increased disorganization.
Many buildings, however, continue to prioritize the package locker due to resident demand because residents rank it as an important amenity in their home search. In practice, however, less than half of residents actually use the package locker system once it’s been installed. The majority of residents are also unwilling to pay additional fees for a package locker, which can cost buildings anywhere from $6,000 to $20,000 upfront, along with monthly service and support fees that can be as high as $6 per compartment—for a building with 100 units, the annual cost climbs upwards of $7,000 annually just in monthly fees.
As a result, package lockers present an added cost challenge for buildings—without the added benefit of a comprehensive solution that saves money elsewhere and delivers an improved resident experience.
Many multifamily buildings are constrained by size, making it impossible to dedicate a separate package room or to add a locker system to their lobby. In this instance, they often resort to storing packages in lobbies or in management offices which presents several significant challenges.
Package theft is a growing problem in multifamily, with 35% of people shipping their packages to other addresses and 53% waiting at home to help limit the risk that their package goes missing. And their concerns are very real; in New York City alone, 90,000 packages a day are stolen or disappear without explanation. When packages are left unattended in building common areas, it poses a huge security risk—without oversight of who is moving through the area, anyone who enters the building has access to packages and could contribute to the growing package theft problem.
Along with the security implications, package storage in lobbies or leasing offices creates disorganization and potential liability if fire exits become blocked. Given the volume of packages being delivered every day, it creates a chaotic environment for staff who are meant to work in the office or for residents who need to shuffle through towering piles of boxes looking for their delivery.
Because of these dilemmas, many multifamily buildings have stopped accepting resident packages in common spaces altogether. Instead, delivery providers are forced to drop off packages at unit doors, which presents its own security risks as unverified guests move throughout the building and also adds complexity for the delivery providers.
Instead of handling package management on-site, some multifamily buildings have decided to completely outsource to third-party providers. Companies like Fetch offer off-site package management, so that building staff don’t need to worry about the headaches associated with receiving and distributing resident packages.
By partnering with a network of package storage facilities, Fetch receives resident packages in a safe and secure way. Once the packages are received, they then coordinate directly with residents to schedule their package delivery. This removes the property manager from the equation and avoids the influx of daily package deliveries at the building itself.
While this increases efficiency for building staff, it adds an additional step for residents who must coordinate their schedules for the delivery. Instead of simply walking down to the package room and picking up their box, they must coordinate logistics with an off-site provider. Fetch also uses its own delivery providers, which poses access challenges once they arrive if the resident is unable to grant access.
While multifamily buildings are struggling to streamline the package management process, there is another key stakeholder affected by the growing multifamily package problem: delivery providers.
Quick access is a must-have for drivers who are delivering dozens, if not hundreds, of packages every day. UPS drivers, for example, deliver roughly 120 packages per day in a roughly eight-hour shift—which equates to one package delivery every four minutes. Without an efficient way for delivery drivers to accomplish package drop-off, they are unable to complete their deliveries which slows down their entire route and delays the package delivery across the board.
The first challenge drivers face at multifamily buildings is just getting inside the front door. For buildings without a doorman, access is often dependent on buzzing resident apartments until someone lets them in. This inefficient and unreliable approach leads to undelivered packages and the missed delivery slip and second delivery attempts, causing a bottleneck for delivery drivers as they must revisit the same buildings for the same packages several times.
Buildings with a combination of intercom and package room solutions, like Hellopackage or Luxer One, enable easier access for delivery providers through door codes. This access, however, is cumbersome and complicated for drivers who are working quickly. With dozens of buildings per route, this requires drivers to memorize or write down several multi-digit combinations. Keeping track of these codes is challenging and adds an unnecessary additional step to delivery drivers’ drop-off process, while weather conditions can impact providers’ ability to use intercom solutions. Gloves or other clothing impede entry for touchscreens and add another step that requires taking off their gloves to gain entry.
Once they’ve gained access, most package lockers require that the driver individually scan each package using the locker’s scanner before placing it into the compartment. This again adds another step to their delivery process and cuts into their already tight timeline. As a result, many deliver providers simply stack boxes next to the locker during peak season instead of using the scanner. With delivery volume continuing to climb and spiking around the holiday months—when drivers have nearly 200 stops per day—anything that adds time to deliveries also impacts delivery carriers’ bottom lines.
As package rooms get overwhelmed and building staff struggle to keep up with the influx of packages, there is another key component that affects package management: speed of package pick-up.
At buildings without a package room or locker, there is no way for residents to know when their package arrives. Though 97% of residents expect tracking with their deliveries, that isn’t the reality. Because not every package is sent with a tracking number—and not every package is expected by the recipient—residents may not pick up their packages for days or even weeks. This delayed turnover limits space for incoming deliveries and has the potential to overwhelm dedicated package spaces, lobbies, or offices even more than they already are. This, in turn, creates a more chaotic working environment for property managers who are forced to do their work among towering stacks of boxes.
Alternately, some package solutions like lockers do send residents notifications alerting them that their package has arrived. This notification, however, is reliant on a delivery provider correctly entering the package into the locker system. With dozens of deliveries per day, drivers simply do not have the time or capacity to enter and scan each package into the locker. As a result, residents never receive a notification that their package has arrived and don’t know to pick it up.
Even when notifications are received, it’s no guarantee that a package will be picked up in a timely fashion. With locker solutions like Package Concierge, it can take residents 12 to 20 hours to pick up their packages, whether due to travel, work, or simple forgetfulness. This results in unclaimed boxes, stacks of deliveries, and overflowing package rooms—which can eventually lead to lost revenue if buildings are forced to dedicate another space to package management and a declining resident experience.
As residents are a primary driver of revenue for building owners and operators, meeting their expectations is imperative to a building’s success. Buildings striving to differentiate themselves in a crowded market must evaluate what amenities and experiences will set their property apart.
While certain amenities, like luxury pet amenities and high-end gym equipment, are highly sought after by residents, they also require a significant investment in both space and budget. Other amenities, like a seamless package experience, don’t call for the large line item in the budget or extensive extra space to improve residents’ daily lives.
Instead of dealing with missed package slips or lost deliveries, package rooms allow residents to grab their package as they walk through the front door or head to the gym. That’s why 84% of residents want a secure and self-service way to access their packages 24/7, making it a highly desirable amenity that both simplifies their lives and adds convenience.
Giving residents access to the amenities they want not only adds convenience, but also has an impact on buildings’ bottom line. Unhappy residents are more likely to move out, leading to increased turnover and more vacant units which costs owners and developers in the long run. With each vacant unit costing on average $1,750 per month, those expenses can add up quickly across an entire portfolio.
But current package solutions are inefficient and unoptimized for residents. With an average of 150 packages—and more during peak season—being delivered to some buildings each week, it creates a challenge for residents who are searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack.
Package lockers present a similar problem. If the volume of package deliveries begins to exceed the locker’s capacity, delivery overflow needs to be stored somewhere. This prevents residents whose packages aren’t added to the locker from receiving delivery notifications and can delay package pick-up. Those additional packages also need a separate storage solution like a package room or lobby, negating the need for the locker in the first place.
Package volume is skyrocketing as multifamily buildings struggle to keep up—and it’s likely not stopping anytime soon.
From 2017 to 2019 alone, global growth in eCommerce sales outperformed brick-and-mortar sales by more than tenfold. By 2023, online sales are expected to account for 22% of all total retail sales, up from 12% in 2017—nearly doubling the number of packages in just five years.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also contributed to shifting customer behavior as people stay home and avoid shopping in person. In 2020 alone, UPS has reported a 65% increase in home shipments and there has been a 30% year-over-year increase in eCommerce deliveries. While other industries, like travel and tourism, are seeing rock-bottom numbers, eCommerce is up by more than 50%, showcasing its ability to withstand—and even thrive—in dramatic economic conditions.
The past surge of eCommerce shipments is expected to continue well into the future. An analysis of four key consumer categories suggests that online sales as a percentage of the total will continue to grow far faster than pre-pandemic estimates.
As buildings already struggle to keep up with the volume of eCommerce deliveries, it becomes apparent that they need to find a powerful solution—and fast—to stay ahead of the eCommerce curve.
The package problem is largely fueled by disparate systems that don’t communicate. While the skyrocketing volume of package deliveries contributes to the growing chaos for property managers and delivery providers, the real problem is fueled by inefficiency, lack of space, and extravagant costs.
Instead of using multiple solutions that are cobbled together to get packages where they need to go, there’s a better way. A single, integrated solution streamlines access, drop-off, package management, and package pick-up to create a better experience for everyone involved, from the delivery provider to the package recipient.
The Latch Delivery Assistant is designed to make it easier for multifamily buildings to manage incoming packages, for delivery providers to drop them off, and for residents to receive them. As a single system that integrates access, package management, and pick-up notifications, the Latch Delivery Assistant makes the package problem obsolete.
Once the Latch Delivery Assistant is installed, arriving delivery providers dial “package room” on the intercom. The Latch Intercom was designed with tactile buttons, so visitors can use it in all weather conditions and while wearing gloves for added flexibility. After they select “package room,” their call goes to a 24/7 remote operator who grants them access to both the front door and the package room, if needed.
In lower volume delivery periods, the driver simply gives the remote operator the name of the package recipient, and the resident receives an automatic notification that their package has arrived. During high volume times, the Latch Delivery Assistant empowers property managers with an easy-to-use package scanner tool in Latch’s enterprise management software, the Latch Manager App. Once the package is scanned, residents immediately receive a text and email notification alerting them that it has arrived. They’ll also receive reminders to pick it up, helping to increase package turnover and clear additional space for incoming deliveries.
The Latch Delivery Assistant alleviates the burden on building staff. By rolling delivery provider access, package scanning, and resident notifications into one platform, property managers experience simplified operations, time savings and lower operating costs—while also gaining the ability to manage increasing package volume in a systematic way.
Instead of overflowing lobbies or disorganized package rooms, the Latch Delivery Assistant empowers building partners to create a seamless and convenient experience for residents who never have to dig through endless piles of boxes or worry about another missing package. This, in turn, improves the overall resident experience and can help bolster resident retention and general satisfaction.
For delivery providers, access serves as the primary barrier—literally and physically—to efficiency. With the Latch Delivery Assistant, however, delivery providers don’t have to worry about memorizing dozens of access codes or dealing with undelivered boxes. Instead, they simply dial the “package room” listed on the building’s easy-to-use intercom, and a remote operator admits them right away, any time of day. The remote operator can also provide access to any designated package room space, completely removing the access challenge from the equation.
Gaining access quickly and efficiently around-the-clock helps delivery providers keep to their timelines and deliver all of their packages on-time, so they don’t have to worry about revisiting buildings over and over again to finally get a package where it’s meant to go. The Latch Delivery Assistant also ensures that providers don’t need to spend their valuable time scanning each individual package to remove every barrier.
Instead of combing through inboxes for tracking information, Latch Delivery Assistant resident notifications deliver a more seamless package pick-up experience. By integrating notifications directly into the package management solution, it eliminates an additional step for property managers while also creating more convenience for residents. Automatic reminders also help to shorten the pick-up window and open space for incoming deliveries, clearing precious space in the package room or allowing property managers to take back their offices.
On any given day, there are countless people that move through a multifamily building. From the residents who call it home to the property managers who work in the office to the delivery providers dropping off daily deliveries, it is an ecosystem in which everyone has their own goals. But one thing remains the same: they all deserve a seamless experience from the moment they enter the front door.
Latch’s goal is to create that seamless experience for everyone with LatchOS, the next-generation software that powers a suite of smart building devices and services. Latch is bringing together all the elements that make up the modern building for building managers, vendors, and residents. Package rooms are no different.
The Latch Delivery Assistant is an integrated solution designed to make it easier for multifamily buildings to manage incoming packages, for delivery providers to gain access, and for residents to receive them.
For building partners, the Latch Delivery Assistant simplifies operations to save time, lower operating costs, and eliminate logistical headaches and overcrowded offices. Delivery providers can always get in and never have to worry about delays on their route because of access issues. It also delivers the convenient and streamlined experience that residents expect, ensuring they never have to dig through endless piles of boxes or worry about another missing package.
By looking at the package problem holistically and addressing every stakeholders’ pain points, the Latch Delivery Assistant delivers an integrated solution that is making package delivery more seamless than ever before for the multifamily buildings that need it the most.