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Rethinking Your Campus Mail Service Center in Wake of COVID-19

In the wake of COVID-19, it is important for colleges and universities nationwide to rethink their mail and package delivery processes and services. This is especially important as students and faculty prepare to return to campuses this fall.  There are a number of factors that campus mail centers should consider when developing new protocols. These include social distancing guidelines, reduced budgets and people-power, and shorter hours for campus operations.

As a leader in the package management space, Parcel Pending by Quadient understands that many of our clients may have questions about how to adjust your package delivery process to safely support students and staff.

That is why Parcel Pending by Quadient recently participated in a webinar with other leading industry experts to discuss this hot topic. Access the full webinar here. Some of the top Q&As are summarized below:

Will COVID-19 accelerate package volume at universities?

  • Yes! Package volume was already at a record high prior to COVID-19; now, the pandemic is exacerbating campus package problems even further.
  • Although most students went home as soon as the pandemic hit, there was still a high shipment volume of packages received by the remaining students.
  • As students prepare to return to campuses this fall, they will likely continue to order and receive a large number of packages. So, expect high package volume to remain steadfast.

How can smart lockers minimize the risk of exposure for students and staff?

  • They reduce contact with a delivery driver or courier service, encouraging the safety of students.
  • Smart lockers help to eliminate face-to-face interactions between mail center staff and students, and also to simplify the package delivery process. Package pickup is easy for students as they can get their packages any time of the day without having to come in contact with mail service staff. This process has been applauded by health officials.
  • Staff should clean the lockers with disinfectant multiple times a day.
  • Provide disinfecting wipes to students so they can clean keyboards and touchscreens before and after each use for further protection.
  • Discourage drop-in traffic by encouraging students and staff to make an appointment for any in-person questions or assistance.

How can smart lockers improve mail center processes?

  • Smart lockers eliminate the chaos of on-campus mail delivery and package management by assuming all of the customer service responsibilities for mail and parcel delivery, notification, and retrieval. 
  • Up to 80% of packages can be delivered directly to parcel lockers, freeing up mail staff to focus on other tasks. 
  •  Parcel Pending by Quadient university locker solutions can reduce the labor resources demanded by package management by as much as a third.

How exactly do smart lockers work?

  • A smart locker system is specifically designed to eliminate the chaos of on-campus mail delivery and package management by assuming all customer service responsibilities for mail and parcel delivery, notification, and retrieval. 
  • The step-by-step delivery process is simple:
    • Student packages arrive via courier at a central receiving area on-campus.
    • The mail operations staff sort and code the packages for smart lockers according to their final on-campus destination.
    • Staff deliver the packages to the appropriate locations on-campus and place them into a secure storage locker.
    • Students are notified by text and/or email about the delivery status and are provided with a passcode to use when retrieving the package(s) privately and safely at any time.
    • The student arrives at the locker and enters their unique access code, accessing the locker and retrieving their package at their convenience.

Can smart lockers be used for more than just packages?

  • Yes! You can deliver student mail into the smart lockers as well as use them to distribute personal belongings to residential college students and staff. 
  • Parcel Pending by Quadient lockers are currently being used to deliver to faculty staff, and students remaining on campus to help minimize human-to-human interactions. 
  • Staff are using lockers to drop off laptops as well as for shipping/return logistics.
  • We offer high density and new “virtual mail delivery” through our web tracking software (WTS).

How many lockers does my mail center need?

  • Several factors help determine the locker count for each mail center, such as student population, delivery time(s), space configuration, etc.
  • Parcel Pending by Quadient offers a complimentary campus assessment (and potential workflow study) to help determine how may lockers an institution will require to accommodate its unique package management needs.
  • Parcel Pending by Quadient campus package distribution solutions are highly customizable to meet each institutions’ unique needs.

How do large or perishable deliveries work?

  • Parcel Pending by Quadient offers a package room for oversized parcels as well as refrigerated lockers for perishable items like food or medicine. 

How does the chain of custody work?

  • Smart lockers provide full chain-of-custody tracking to reduce package liability and theft issues.
  • Colleges and universities also have access to robust analytics and dashboards that provide real-time summaries that show how the lockers are being used, when stale packages need to be removed, and track locker turnover and capacity. 
  • All of this information is useful to help provide a seamless package management experience to residential college students and faculty.

More and more industry professionals are recommending that universities invest in tech-forward solutions like smart parcel lockers to manage the daily influx of student package and deliveries.  Smart lockers solve a number of pain points for university mailroom operations including saving valuable staff time, diminishing lost or stolen packages, eliminating package liability, removing stale packages without robust reporting, reducing operating costs, and providing an enhanced student experience.


 We know that things are changing quickly. Your role as the provider of a safe and secure learning environment has never been more important. Package volume will increase significantly as students and staff return to their college campuses this fall, so now is the time to invest in a smart locker solution for your campus mail center.  As the market leader, we’ve helped thousands of leading colleges and universities preserve their reputation and bottom line with contact-free intelligent parcel lockers and mail-related solutions. Let us take care of the packages so you can take care of your students and staff.  Learn more about our university parcel management solutions here.