Offers of free shipping and same-day delivery have compelled more people to shop online from the convenience of their homes. Add a pandemic to that equation and you have the makings for people doing a lot more online ordering and shipping.
This Marketplace Pulse chart obtains its data from the Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce. From Q4 in 1994 to Q1 in 2020, it shows a subtle increase over time like a long and low-sloped hill. Prior to the pandemic, every quarter saw about a $3 billion increase.
After the crisis hit? E-commerce skyrocketed in 2020 Q2 and continues to hover above the $200 billion mark through 2021 Q3. Between the first and second quarters of 2020, sales skyrocketed by almost $50 billion. This increase is 16 times more than all those previous quarters showed since 1994.
What does this mean for multifamily housing and communities?
How Online Shopping Affects Apartment Communities
Thanks to the crisis, online shopping is at its most popular with no signs of slowing down. While there have been a couple of downward trends, they are still much higher than the time before COVID-19.
A Yahoo! Finance article states apartment buildings have seen residents’ monthly package deliveries change from an average of six packages a month to 10. During the holiday season, that average jumps to 14. Every apartment property has its own process for managing the delivery of packages.
The process depends on many factors. Does the property management staff handle the delivery drive-by? Do they manage the packages? Or do they go straight to the resident?
If an apartment building has 100 residents and each resident averages 10 packages per month, the multifamily property staff now has to deal with at least 400 more packages a month on average compared to pre-pandemic days.
Remember, residents ordered an average of six packages per month before the pandemic. Now it’s 10 with the packages about to increase to 14 for the holidays. So, when the holidays hit, your staff may have 1,400 packages to contend with in December. This is more than twice as many as before the pandemic.
The apartment staff not only has to be available on-site to accept deliveries but also store them in a safe place that only the staff can access. When someone accepts delivery and they must put the package away, does it leave no one watching the front desk?
Many apartment property managers are finding they are reaching their tipping point. That is, if they have not already. Are your rooms with the packages overflowing? When a resident comes to pick up the package, can employees find the right one quickly?
To make matters worse, package theft is growing.
The Price of Package Theft
As if managing the deluge of packages isn’t bad enough, package theft is also climbing. A C+R Research Survey has found that 43 percent of Americans have had a package stolen in 2020. The average value of the stolen package was $136. This study looked at apartments with and without a doorman as well as condos with and without a doorman.
The survey also shows that people tend to order more items online during the holiday season. This is in spite of more than half admitted to being worried about having their packages stolen. Almost half also take steps to avoid buying expensive items online because they fear theft.
You may have been hearing about the supply chain problems. It didn’t start because of that ship that got stuck in the Suez Canal and held up billions of dollars of cargo from getting to their destination on time. Although, it did contribute to it.
The supply chain issues started with the pandemic. Even though we’re almost two years into the crisis, the supply chain continues to hobble along. If your residents want to order a new computer, they are most likely going to have to wait. That is because there is a shortage of chips.
Thus, it is more critical now than ever not to lose any packages. If a package gets lost, the resident may blame your staff instead of where the problem occurred.
In short, the apartment property management team cannot afford package theft with a weak supply chain and rising costs. With many people in a multifamily community, you want to keep your residents happy. If they have a bad day, they could take it out on other residents or your staff.
Now that it’s the holiday season, it’s critical that apartment property management do something to minimize package theft.
What Can You Do to Help Prevent Package Theft?
Your property management team may be responsible for accepting packages. By investing in creative package theft solutions, you’ll potentially increase retention rates, provide your residents with peace of mind, and boost the resident experience.
You can reduce the chances of package theft by doing the following three things:
- Educate residents and staff.
- Use an access management control system.
- Implement video surveillance.
Educate residents and staff
Security is only as strong as your weakest link. People are always the weakest link. Close that gap by educating your residents and staff. What is the best way to educate them? It depends on your communication tools.
Is there a single resource all employees and residents rely on to hear from property management? Maybe there are two resources that you’ll need to use to reach all your residents. How do you send them their bills and announcements? Use that avenue.
Work with a security expert to create the educational materials. You will want to include suggestions such as taking advantage of the package tracking feature. Perhaps, suggest they use something like an Amazon hub locker. Of course, they will not always order from Amazon or have a hub locker that is convenient to access.
It is possible to have an Amazon hub locker in an apartment building. Have you investigated that as an option? When a package arrives at a hub, Amazon sends the customer an email with a specialized barcode to open a locker containing the customer’s package. Be aware that each locker has a time limit, so it’s critical for a customer pick it up in a timely manner.
You will need to conduct different training for employees. Create a package management process and train employees on the process. Processes are only effective if employees follow them. That’s why it’s important to train them and have them sign off on it. Make it part of your security training. Ensure everyone stays vigilant by conducting security training at least once a year or more often.
Use an access control system
If you store the packages in a room, then an access control system can improve the security. Only the people who can enter the room should have access. An access control system can make it easier to let delivery carriers into the building. You would not need to have an employee stationed at the front or someplace to let the delivery carriers into the building.
Perhaps, if you create a package locker like Amazon’s hub locker, this can be a way for the delivery person to enter the building and store the package in the locker.
An access control system would benefit your apartment building in other ways. You can make the fitness room, laundry room, and other resident-only access rooms accessible to only those who live in the building. You can customize and assign access with an access control system. Whatever process you use, be sure to train residents and employees on the process.
Install video surveillance
Video surveillance with remote monitoring takes a proactive approach to security and deters crime. Its high-resolution cameras can see faces and make out identifying information. If the incident happens during non-monitoring hours and employees or residents learn about theft after it occurs, analysts can review the video surveillance footage to determine what happened.
Employees can’t be everywhere. Fortunately, security cameras can see everything and trained monitoring operators watch over the cameras. The system stores all footage later review as needed.
A proactive video surveillance system like the one from Stealth combines video analytics and human intelligence to maximize security. Your building may benefit from full-site monitoring and faster response times from law enforcement. The technology could pay for itself within months since the service costs up to 60 percent less than the price of security guards.
Video surveillance can work with or without an access control system. When you use both, you add more layers to your security. The more layers you have, the harder it will be for an outsider to break through it.
There are many creative solutions that use a combination of the access control system and video surveillance. The advantage of these technologies is that they do more than stop package theft. Security is important to residents and more so now as more of them work from home.
Learn more about securing your multifamily housing community by picking up your free Complete Guide to Securing Your Apartment Building. This guide walks you through selecting the right remote video surveillance system for your budget. If you have questions, please contact us.