Package Delivery and Storage Challenges

November 2022

Back in the dark ages, people had to do some physical work to acquire goods and services; make a trip to a store, restaurant or other commercial establishment.  Exceptions, which were limited, included pizza or Chinese food delivery, and catalog shopping.

More of our purchases now occur online and are delivered to our home via a third party.  We never have to leave home.  When we chose to avoid contact with virtually everyone because of Covid, the pace of online ordering exploded.  We now have groceries, clothing, shoes, exercise equipment and medication delivered directly to our home.

Online ordering and delivering is not going away anytime soon.  Analytics firm estimates each high-rise resident on average received 9.41 packages each month in 2022, increasing to 10.65 in 2023.

The challenges of prompt, secure and intact package deliveries have for the most part been achieved with the lone exception of high-rise communities.

It’s one thing for a single family in a free-standing house to receive and secure their steady stream of packages and other deliveries that come directly to their door.   High-rise communities are uniquely challenged when packages for all residents must go through a single set of doors.  A 200-unit residential building housing 300 people can be expected to receive 3,200 packages a month or in excess of 100 packages each business day.  The task of ensuring each package securely reaches its intended recipient is complex, time consuming and expensive.  Since most communities are unprepared to employ someone for the sole purpose of managing package deliveries, communities employ a range of solutions.  Some require current employees to sacrifice their primary duties to manage package deliveries.  What works in one building may not work in another.

Storage needs for package delivery have changed.  Many lobbies, storage rooms and hallways are simply not large enough to handle the volume of packages and delivery people.  Communities don’t have the staff needed to accept, track, store and possibly deliver all the packages.  With so many now working from home, some communities have found delivery volumes increasing by 200 percent or more.  This creates security and safety concerns.  There is more traffic into and out of the building.  Unattended packages building up in lobbies, hallways and other common areas can be stolen.

Practical Solutions

From a security perspective, delivery personnel should not be allowed beyond the building lobby.  Three methods are available to handle package deliveries without compromising security.

Do Nothing

Some communities choose to separate themselves from delivery of packages by refusing all deliveries.  While this may address certain community concerns, it fails to accommodate the interests of residents.  Residents must be home at the time packages are delivered or make arrangements for an alternate delivery location.  Alternatives to receiving packages at a building include local operations such as The UPS Store.  Delivery services may offer local pick-up locations or parcel locker services.

Upgrade Package Receiving and Handling Procedures

Communities with a concierge that accepts packages are obligated to store them and inform residents of their arrival.  Some communities have added a flat package delivery charge to monthly condo fees.  Others charge per-package storage fees for those not quickly retrieved.  Package deliveries may be refused when volumes exceed what can be handled.

Technology solutions are available to speed up package handling while more quickly and easily informing residents of their arrival so they can be retrieved sooner.  Solutions may be incorporated in existing condo management software applications, such as those offered by BuildingLink Canada and UpperBee Software, or available as stand-alone solutions.

Upgrade the Parcel Room

Communities with the space and financial resources can create onsite locker storage facilities.  One elegant solution reflecting the needs of communities and individuals is to establish secure smart lockers, such as offered by Snaile Canada.  Packages can be delivered and retrieved without involving concierge/security.  Residents are informed electronically when a package arrives for them and provided with retrieval instructions.  Concierge staff and building management, once relieved of the responsibility to accept, store and retrieve packages for residents, and inform when packages have arrived, are better able to focus on the duties for which they are hired.