Amazon Prime Day

Amazon’s third annual self-created shopping holiday – took place on Tuesday July 11. According to the company, the event offers Amazon Prime members “more deals than Black Friday,” and has been growing in success each year it has been held. Analysts estimate the 2016 event generated $525 million in sales for Amazon – a 26 percent increase over the previous year’s event and the retailer’s biggest sales day ever; even more than on Black Friday itself.

In addition, Amazon recently announced it will offer reduced Prime memberships to consumers with a valid Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, for which, the retailer says, 20 percent of the U.S. population would qualify. As such, analysts are anticipating incremental package delivery volume at affordable housing, B and C level properties as well as student housing communities. According to a survey by Baird, low-income consumers (defined as those earning less than $50,000 annually per household) represent the fastest-growing group of Amazon Prime customers. Another consultancy, Kantar Retail, asserts that such lower-income shoppers online buying increased 28 percent from 2009 to 2016 – faster growth than higher-income households.

Students are also a target of Amazon, through its Student Textbook Rentals program which is, not surprisingly, tied to a free one-year subscription to Amazon Prime. Compared to older generations, Gen-Z college students love to shop online and/or via their smart phones instead of traveling to stores in or around campus.

So while recent membership promotions combined with its Amazon Prime Day event may be a boon to shoppers, the surge in package delivery volume will surely create havoc for many apartment facilities receiving these purchases over the following days. The increased volume can be compared to the deluge seen surrounding the recent holidays when UPS delivered more than 30 million packages per day in the week leading up to Christmas. Estimates of theft then varied, although one security services company estimated that 11 million people had a package stolen within the past year.

Many properties simply don’t have space or staff to handle the incoming package volume. Often, such communities attempt to hold packages in a secure area, space permitting. Others have stopped accepting packages altogether, directing their residents to have deliveries dropped at their doorsteps – creating ample opportunities for package thieves known as “porch pirates.”

Incidents of theft will almost certainly rise with the increased Amazon Prime Day package volumes, made worse with more deliveries to lower income properties and the accompanying resident complaints to property managers. And while multifamily communities sometimes remove themselves from liability of package thievery via their lease agreements, others are turning the growing problem into a business opportunity – by offering package lockers that prevent delivery theft and eliminate the need for already overburdened offices to receive, store and disperse them. Such multifamily communities use the availability of package lockers as a marketable amenity to potential residents, or as a value-add feature to retain occupants.

Thus, the availability of electronic package lockers offers two key benefits: residents love them to keep their packages safe, and housing properties enjoy increased resident satisfaction and reduced package management demands on their staffs. Such electronic package lockers can certainly take the hassle and costs out of Amazon’s Prime Day event for multifamily community managers.

 

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