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Why Smart Package Rooms are the New Must-Have Apartment Amenity

By Mo Cheema

It’s an understatement to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed consumers’ buying preferences, shifting them much higher in favor of online purchases as the mandatory quarantine took hold in the U.S. According to the Adobe Digital Economy Index (DEI), consumers spent $70.2 billion in April 2020 and $82.5 billion in May 2020—which is 7% higher than the $142.5 billion spent online during the November and December 2019 holiday shopping season.

Unfortunately, the increase in package delivery also heightened the opportunity for theft and according to the researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, this equates to 1.7 million packages stolen or lost every day in the U.S. Because of the lockdown, many of these items were necessities as opposed to “nice to have” purchases dominated by pre-pandemic times.

According to C+R Research, 36% of Americans have had a package stolen and 56% know of someone who has had a package stolen. All these thefts have left people a bit on edge, especially in densely populated cities where tenants are now pointing their finger in the landlord’s direction for a solution. But a New York Times article titled “My Packages Keep Getting Stolen. What Can I Do?” says, “The landlord could argue that they were taken when a tenant buzzed in the wrong visitor; that a tenant mistakenly took the wrong package; or that the delivery was lost in transit and never arrived.”

These statements claim the landlord has no responsibility for tenants’ packages. This sounds a bit absurd, since e-commerce is now such a critical part of our lives. If landlords don’t offer a secure service, they won’t be competitive in the marketplace.

Package thefts severely impact the bottom line for businesses. C+R Research also concluded that it costs businesses $109 on average to replace stolen items. This includes the full cost of the stolen item and the shipping and handling of the same order, twice, not to mention the additional time spent to serve a single customer that could be used to grow the business.

It seems the landlords whose opinions helped shape the NY Times article were not aware of recent developments in apartment package delivery systems. Sure, many New York City apartment buildings don’t have a lot of empty spaces that are just gathering dust, but they do have rooms for storage that can easily be transformed into a smart package room.

From an NOI perspective, smart package rooms bring in more residents while saving staff time (which also equates to money) by not dealing with so many packages. And once tenants have this type of high-tech amenity, it is very hard for them to relocate to a building without it.

The smart package room combines artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision to provide a complete self-service experience for tenants receiving packages. This is not a fork-lift upgrade construction process—it’s an elegant Lozier-based shelving system that typically installs in a day.

If landlords expect to keep high-quality tenants, they need to start taking more responsibility for protecting package deliveries. The volume of packages will not be diminishing anytime soon, and these people have their eyes on a suburban lifestyle—why not make it more convenient for residents to remain?

Mo Cheema is director of solutions design and implementation at Position Imaging.

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About Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny serves as Senior Content Director for Connect Commercial Real Estate, a role to which he brings 13-plus years’ experience covering the commercial real estate industry and 30-plus years in business-to-business journalism. In this capacity, he oversees daily operations while also reporting on both local/regional markets and national trends, covering individual transactions across all property types, as well as delving into broader subject matter. He produces 15-20 daily news stories per day and works with the Connect team and clients to develop longer-form content, ranging from Q&As to thought-leadership pieces. Prior to joining Connect, Paul was Managing Editor for both Real Estate Forum and GlobeSt.com at American Lawyer Media, where he oversaw operations at both publications while also producing daily news and feature-length articles. His tenure in B2B publishing stretches back into the print era, and he has served as Editor in Chief on four national trade publications. Since 1999, Paul has volunteered as the newsletter editor of passenger rail advocacy groups (one national, one local).

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