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How Tech-Enabled Lockers for Colleges Benefit Campuses

E-commerce has become king. Online shopping is a dominant force in American life, thanks much in part to the rise of the overnight or same-day delivery system. Now, when someone runs out of laundry detergent or some other sundry item there’s no need to go through the hassle of driving to the store for that one thing; they simply order it online, and it appears at their door within 24 hours. While this is convenient for individual customers, it becomes a logistical nightmare for universities and colleges that may have hundreds if not thousands of people ordering and shipping items to their campus daily. 

This package influx has led to a host of problems for both students and university staff alike. Fortunately, there’s an obvious solution to this problem—smart lockers. Now, universities and colleges can say goodbye to mailroom clutter and package backup for good! With Parcel Pending’s tech-enabled lockers, campuses reap huge rewards. 

Curious about how smart lockers benefit college campuses? Read on to discover more.

The Change in Shopping Behavior

It’s evident that e-commerce has changed consumer behavior forever. Brick and mortar locations and malls once dominated the retail landscape, but are dwindling into the annals of pop-culture. As Business Insider writes, these one-time retail havens for teenagers are dying out: 

Retailers have announced more than 8,600 closings so far in 2019 and according to a report done by Credit Suisse in 2017, between 20% to 25% of malls will close by 2022. A national retail apocalypse has crippled US malls as anchor stores such as Macy’s and Sears, which take up large retail spaces and drive foot traffic, have shuttered stores and left malls with enormous gaps to fill. 

This is much in part due to the fact that more people than ever are choosing to shop online in favor of in-store. But what motivates such behavior? An Impact study on American buying habits found the following information:

  • Reasons why customers shop online
    • Convenience (85%)
    • Price comparisons (72%)
    • To save time (71%)
    • To avoid crowds/other people (54%)
    • To read product reviews prior to making a purchase (54%
  • Reasons why customers purchase items in-store
    • To physically see and touch items before purchase (73%) 
    • To have the product immediately (72%) 
    • To avoid shipping costs (52%) 
    • To try on an item first (50%)
    • Just enjoy going out to a store (26%)
  • Types of products people shop for in-store
    • Groceries (Perishable 85%/ Non-perishable 75%)
    • Paper Products (75%) 
    • Cleaning Supplies (74%)
  • Types of products purchased online
    • Books and Media (48%)
    • Video Games (38%) 
    • Electronics and Accessories (27%)
    • Gifts (26%)

According to Forbes, “a new report from McKinsey which analyzed B2C ecommerce trends in 17 countries, focusing specifically on the number of parcels being dispatched. It found that the average American receives 21 parcels each year.” That figure represents 7.35 bn packages received in the U.S. alone. And those numbers have been increasing yearly. So, while this package flow may be manageable for individuals; for colleges, where they might have tens of thousands of students ordering online, it becomes a much more glaring issue. 

How the Package Problem Impacts Colleges

College students are showing up to campus with fewer items than ever before. Today, there’s little need to lug a bunch of things from home when they could purchase just about everything they need online and simply have it delivered to campus. According to Campus Technology

As students buy everything from dorm furniture to textbooks to groceries online, college mailrooms are feeling the burden of handling more packages than ever. We have seen a 10 to 12 percent growth year after year for the past 10 years.

So, why should this matter for colleges? Why is this an issue that needs fixing? It’s helpful to remember some key factors that exacerbate the problem:

University mailrooms are dated

Most traditional university mailrooms were created before the meteoric rise of e-commerce. As a result, they were intended to handle the odd package, but were predominantly meant for letters and other items that could be sorted into the personal student’s mailbox. Students weren’t alerted that their things had come, they just swung by their box or the mailroom occasionally to see if mail had arrived.

Today though, dated university mailrooms have neither the size nor the storage space to handle this package influx. They have been made obsolete and unable to handle the never-ending flow of packages, which results in stacks of haphazardly placed boxes creating clutter and chaos. Per the University of Connecticut’s Daily Campus

A September 18 report from the Daily Campus said the Mansfield, Connecticut, post office — which is where packages headed to UConn are processed — had received 3,000 packages per day headed to campus. This volume of deliveries kept the staff at Mansfield’s post office at work until 3 a.m.

College student demographics

As members of GenZ, many students have grown up being able to shop online. At this point, such behavior is built-in. So, in all likelihood, young people are responsible for a disproportionate amount of the nation’s online shopping. As Business Insider notes:

Amanda Chernin, age 20, from Delray Beach, Florida, says she shops online almost every day… While Chernin’s approach to shopping might still be alien to some consumers, she is an example of a Generation Z consumer. She is part of the first truly digital generation, which has grown up cradling a smartphone and has never known a time without the internet and social media.

These trends in college student housing are unlikely to change any time soon. In fact, as technology continues to improve and further generations grow up using it, the package influx will only get more out of hand. 

Mail services centers are understaffed

Even if mailrooms or student mail centers have space for all of the packages being regularly sent to campus, few of those have a large enough staff capable of handling the delivery inflow. As a result, they’re swamped with the seemingly endless onslaught of packages. A majority of their time is spent accepting, sorting, and storing the dozens of items that arrive hourly. This results in several student internet package issues:

    • Longer waiting times for college students to pick up their package.
    • Hours wasted on handling packages.
    • Increased likelihood that items are lost, misplaced, damaged, or stolen

How Tech-Enabled Lockers for Colleges Benefit Campuses

Parcel Pending saw this growing problem for both students and university staff and decided to do something about it. This is why they created tech-enabled lockers. These smart lockers are the natural solution to the package problem since they optimize the campus mailroom or student mail services center. For staff, it saves them hundreds of hours of possessing time, thus reducing stress. For students, tech-enabled college lockers streamline the pickup process and remove the worry that the package might be lost, damaged, or stolen. 

Benefits of Parcel Pending lockers include student housing amenities like:  

  • Instant delivery notifications – Students are notified of their deliveries through their smart phone. The students are notified via text or email when and where a package has been delivered. As a result, there is no reason for fruitless trips to the mailroom or student center in order to see whether an item has been delivered. 
  • Easy pickup – The smart tech allows students to pick up their item at their convenience, no matter the time of day. They simply scan their barcode or enter their pickup code and retrieve their item from its secure storage compartment. 
  • Flexible – Parcel Pending offers both indoor and outdoor smart lockers in a variety of sizes in order to meet any space requirements. As a result, many campuses have begun installing intelligent parcel locker systems at mail services centers and/or key locations throughout campus.
  • Customizable – Smart lockers come in a variety of colors or can be given custom wraps in order to promote schools’ colors or aesthetic. This is a subtle way to contribute to the overall atmosphere and university spirit. 
  • Secure – Each locker has built-in cameras that capture both deliveries and pickups, ensuring the safety and security of packages and preventing theft.

Optimizing Campus Mail Services with Smart Lockers

The package problem is not going to get better any time soon. In fact, it will only grow more unmanageable as time passes. If colleges want to save money, assist their mail staff, and improve student satisfaction, high-tech enabled lockers from Parcel Pending are a cost-effective investment that will pay dividends on several fronts. 

Maybe it is literally “about time” to optimize campus mail services with smart lockers!

To learn more about how student housing changes when Gen Z goes to college and things college students want, read on at Parcel Pending.