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How The Digital Locker System Can Benefit Your Business

Chances are, if you’re reading this digital article, then you’ve ordered something online. A lot of you have purchased something online within the past week. Some of us have ordered things online today and some of the packages may even be sitting in a digital locker system awaiting your retrieval. According to a recent study from Forrester Research Inc., online retail sales in the U.S. are expected to increase 49.7 percent from $334 billion (2015) to nearly $500 billion (2019). Today’s consumer is increasingly turning away from brick-and-mortar stores and shopping online, and with that comes an increased expectation when it comes to package delivery from retailers and e-tailers. Consequently, businesses strive to keep up in an increasingly competitive market. To challenge big online brands like Amazon and eBay, brick-and-mortar retailers are creating their own online shops and turning to delivery and pickup alternatives to compete while also cutting costs. How, then, are these smaller businesses competing with online giants? More and more online retailers and e-tailers are investing in intelligent lockers to beat the last-mile delivery problem – all while making it faster, safer and more accessible to the consumer. A digital locker system benefits small businesses because it is a smart, secure way to store those packages, but also convenient to the consumer when they are ready to pick up their package. An added bonus: It drives foot traffic to their store. During a time when showrooming is becoming more popular (or when someone shops in-store and then actually purchases online), the added benefit of in-store foot tr......
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Three Ways To Improve The Package Delivery Experience

Experience Is Everything Isn’t it all about the experience? When it comes to improving package delivery service, we have learned that many e-commerce merchants simply don’t know where to start. We’ll highlight three ways any merchant can begin the process of delivering a seamless experience, which in turn improves a buyer’s package delivery experience. Major e-commerce giants make mistakes all the time. In fact, they seem to make their worst mistakes at the worst possible times, so merchants of all sizes should be proactive when managing communications in general. As merchants develop a better package delivery experience, brand image strengthens to grow the business. Empowering customers with different ways to receive packages The struggle is real when e-commerce merchants try to find solutions to the problem of last-mile delivery. Getting pilfered by a porch pirate is the least concern. A smart business understands the benefit of giving customers a number of package delivery options from which to choose. Major shipping brands offer their customers as many as eight delivery options, based on how timely customers want their deliveries. We’ve seen small, growing merchants have much success with in-store pickup service alongside a range of delivery options. A smart merchant understands which products need shipping at all and which products require a more thorough experience for the customer. Sending frequent delivery notifications In any context, businesses that send their customers a variety of frequent communications have an edge over their rivals. Email, text messaging and a customer order-tracking page are three easy wins; however, social media has finally t......
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Internet of Things and Property Management

A Look at IoT and its Affects on Property Management By now, unless you have been living under a rock or off the grid, you are used to the “internet of things” touching virtually every aspect of your life. Your smartphone is smart because of the internet. Your car provides you with directions through its GPS using the internet. Your refrigerator may even be able to tell you what groceries you need the next time you are at the store! But have you ever thought about the effect the internet of things has on commercial real estate and the changes that it brings to the manner in which asset managers conduct business?   Property managers and changing technology Manufacturers have long recognized the benefit of integrating various production and management systems through the industrial IoT. These artificial intelligence systems allow for just-in-time ordering of parts, warn their human counterparts of potential difficulties in production lines and stop the line, and integrate production with office functions, automatically invoicing clients for products once they are shipped. Such integration saves time and money in manufacturing. This type of integration is now available in commercial building management through the use of AI for those property managers who understand the changing technology environment. “Smart systems” – those that can “talk” to one another – have been around for decades in building management. AI takes smart systems to a new level. Through AI, the system itself can make appropriate choices in heating, cooling, and the allocation of other valuable resources to gr......
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Technology Expectations of Gen Z

The first generation to grow up with continual online access, Generation Z – also known as the iGeneration, Post-Millennials and the Homeland Generation – is getting ready to enter the rental world. Gen Z’ers consume technology at a higher rate than any other demographic – checking their smartphones every three minutes! With smart home technologies having played such a big role in their lives, they have some pretty high expectations about what life outside of mom and dad’s house should be. Gen Z’ers want a personal, meaningful and unique living experience, which can create a challenge for some student housing operators. But it’s a challenge that should be accepted with open arms. Here are some key items to consider when building out a technology plan to meet the demands of this new generation of renters: Personal connective devices like Google Assistant: These items were top sellers this holiday season. These devices are personal and connected to each individual user via apps and accounts, many owner/operators are considering these as move-in gifts for new residents. Being mindful of the user experience of each before making a final purchase. Smart locks: Have become a no-brainer in terms of establishing a smart home/smart community. They offer greater flexibility for both the resident and the operator to control who can enter an apartment home. Your staff will not have to deal with the key management time-suck at semester turn; therefore, they can quickly and easily create a new access and revoke access as students move in and out. Consider Makerspaces: Do you know what a makerspace is? With the rise......
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Assessing the Digital Locker Space: The Steps to Selecting the Right System

Amazon recently announced a deal with Greystar and AvalonBay that will put its Hub By Amazon lockers in apartment buildings with more than 850,000 units. This past holiday season, top carriers (USPS, UPS and FedEx) delivered billions of packages before the New Year. With the influx in shipments from e-commerce sites and the increase in "porch pirate" activity, the multifamily housing industry (e.g., apartment buildings) realizes the critical importance for a new system for managing packages; however, choosing the right system should not be taken lightly.  Here are a few items retailers, consumers and housing managers should consider considering the experience for each is at stake if something goes array: 1. Ownership: Currently, the owner/manager of the apartments purchase the locker as an asset for their property and offer it as an amenity to the resident. Using the Hub by Amazon doesn’t seem to be considered an asset of purchase, but more of a leased item that Amazon will own and permit use of pursuant to their terms and conditions for a limited period of time. For that reason, it is critical that housing managers and consumers assess and understand the impacts on the language as it relates to the package management fees that properties have in place. 2. Privacy: Currently, the property managers own all of the resident data. That resident is able to register for use the lockers that are installed on the property and the owner is able to access any real-time analytics and data needed for keeping the lockers running at a......
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Is Your Leasing Team Too Busy?

Your leasing team is an integral part of your company. They’re the public face of the property. They are the key liaison between the management team, the current resident and the prospective resident. Managing incoming packages used to be a minor part of leasing offices duties. But today, maneuvering the influx of package deliveries eats up significant time in the day of a leasing associate. Some leasing offices are quite literally drowning in resident packages as ecommerce continues its skyward surge. Our data shows that an average 250-unit apartment community receives over 50 packages a day. This number increases three-fold during the holiday season with some communities seeing close to 150 packages come through the doors. Deliveries can be so time demanding that onsite leasing teams have no choice but to neglect tasks that are more integral to community success. Often companies are limited on the number of staff per property. And adding more personnel is an additional expense.  Sure, leasing teams have time to handle packages, but wouldn’t you rather have your leasing teams performing more valuable tasks? Giving tours to prospective residents The community tours are critical to closing with your prospects. Highlighting the key features and amenities that set you apart from your competition is vital to any property tour. Apartment shoppers want to be able to get a good feel of their community, see their next home, and they want to love it. If your leasing associates are tied up with organizing packages in the office, the prospect wil......
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What to Expect this Holiday Shipping Season - It Doesn't Have to be a Jungle Out There

The holidays are right around the corner and so is holiday shipping. Black Friday is eagerly sitting on top of a massive pile of delivery packages with a Grinch-esque smile on its face just waiting for the festivities to begin. As we enter the last months of the year, peak gift-giving season is upon us. Shopping and holiday shipping are about to get wild. Online shopping industry continues to flex its market muscles as the go-to method. But the aura of the holiday season still holds a strong draw towards brick-and-mortar stores. Yes, people will still ship gifts purchased in person as opposed to ordering online. And with the emergence of shipping and returning apps, holiday gift shipping is going to be in full force this year. Aside from cost-savings, a chief advantage to this shipping is that you don’t have to wait in line at the Post Office or FedEx. Stores like Crate & Barrel and Nordstrom’s will ship in-store purchases directly to an address. Now you don’t have to worry about dealing with that on your own. Another popular trend, “ship-from-store,” is where brick-and-mortar retailers fulfill online orders from stores nearby; not from distribution centers miles away. This helps retailers stay competitive against e-commerce giants and also offers the customer faster shipping at lower costs and reduced markdowns. But the game-changer in retail shipping is the peer-to-peer app. Dubbed Uber for shipping, apps like Roadie, Dolly, UberRush and more connect drivers/transporters and senders. Anything from packages to pets can be transport......
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Work-at-Home Businesses Require Package Efficiency

The rise of the Internet has impacted the globe in many ways. One of the biggest changes from the digital age is the fact people don’t have to leave their homes anymore… for anything, really. People can have a work-at-home business.  They can shop from home. They can get groceries delivered straight to their front door. It’s easier than ever before to place orders online with the click of a button. But it doesn’t stop there. An increasing number of millennial and Gen-Xers are operating businesses out of their homes; representing companies such as LuLaRoe, Matilda Jane, Thirty-One and Etsy. Many are enamored by the ease of running a home-based business. However, apartment renters, who make up a large portion of the millennial/Gen X demographic, can find it to be quite challenging because of the abundance incoming and outgoing shipments. These businesses require frequent, if not constant, deliveries that are shipped and received at home. Lost or delayed shipments can result in an immediate negative impact to their business success. Apartment communities can assist here. Any community equipped with a 24-hour package locker system and a package room for larger shipments can dramatically help residents successfully run their home businesses. Depending on the industry supply contents can vary. However, in nearly every case, timely shipments are the lifeblood of the business. Here is a look at some of the most common products shipped to these type of home-based, digitally run businesses: Clothing Home Decor Skin Care/Cosmetics Craft, Textiles & Other Homemade Goods As work-at-home business continues to expand, so will......
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Hurricane Preparedness: Stock up on Supplies, Know Safe Spots

Two hurricanes have already landed on U.S. soil. And another is about to do so if Hurricane Juan builds momentum. Hurricane preparedness is the utmost importance now. It’s a small measure of relief that technology allows near-precise timeliness of when and where these devastating acts of nature will make impact. Technology can also help you best prepare for disaster. In the case of Hurricane Irma, residents in Florida, the Gulf Coast and the eastern seaboard had more than a week’s warning for the most powerful Atlantic hurricane on record.   While that doesn’t soften the potential impact for apartment residents and operators, it gives them more sufficient time to prepare. As many go to local shops and stores to get supplies the result is often bar shelves. However, a few-day window exists to utilize online shopping. Apartment communities could see a gigantic rush of supplies ranging from non-perishable foods, flashlights, batteries and other survival-type goods. This is also the time for property managers to have a firm emergency plan intact. It is vital to have procedures in place to notify residents and team members. This isn’t the time to ignore evacuation orders or the advice of first responders. But no matter how direct, widespread or valuable the advice, some will choose to wait out the storm. In fairness, south Florida apartment developments are better prepared for a hurricane after 1992’s Hurricane Andrew. Construction standards have increased, windows are designed to withstand high impact and most new developments can absorb winds of up to 175 mph. But that ......
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#HoustonStrong

We have all been watching the news, concerned about those who live and work in Houston. It is truly heartbreaking to see the devastation they are going through right now. We can only hope the worst is behind them. Now is the time for us to come together to help those so profoundly impacted by the floods. We need to let them know we are there are them – today, tomorrow and in the weeks and months to come. Here are some links for organizations currently accepting monetary donations as shared by Huffington Post: American Red Cross The Salvation Army GoFundMe Hurricane Harvey ASPCA For in-kind donations, including blood, please check into these organizations: South Texas Blood Texas Diaper Bank – currently accepting donations but may take in-kind as well Feeding Texas And finally, as an industry, there are ways we can step in to help the residents of Houston – both apartment renters and single-family owners. Consider offering model and vacant units as temporary housing. Airbnb is waiving its fees right now, this might be an option as well. Host meals for those who are displaced or for First Responders and volunteers in the field, or even better for all. Take moment to promote donation channels on your social media channels. Feel free to use this blog post to share some links. Engage your residents and collect in-kind donations of clothing, toiletries, household items, etc. If your property is pet friendly, consider becoming a foster to displaced pets. Or wave pet f......
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