Now more than ever, people rely on online shopping for everything from home goods to meal delivery services — and even groceries. And your residents expect their packages to be delivered efficiently. So, as a multifamily apartment manager, you should invest in a robust package management system. One popular option is electronic parcel lockers. But are they the ideal choice for your property?
Read our guide to learn what electronic package lockers are and how they work. You’ll also learn the pros and cons of parcel locker systems. Finally, we’ll offer a more robust alternative for managing packages at your building.
This guide covers:
- What is an electronic parcel locker?
- Why does your building need a package delivery system?
- How do electronic parcel lockers work?
- Pros and cons of electronic parcel lockers
- The best alternative to electronic parcel lockers
What is an electronic parcel locker?
An electronic parcel locker is a package delivery system where couriers store parcels for residents to pick up with a PIN or QR code. They’re functionally similar to smart lockers, which contain a computer and sensors. Electronic parcel lockers also have those components, which automate the package delivery and pick-up processes.
Some electronic package lockers have designated compartments for each apartment unit, a similar system to mailboxes. However, most electronic parcel lockers have unassigned compartments. In this case, when residents receive a package, they’re alerted via an email or text containing a PIN or QR code. After the resident enters the code, the correct locker compartment opens.
How much do electronic parcel lockers cost?
The price of electronic parcel lockers varies from brand to brand. However, you can expect to pay an upfront fee between $6,000 and $21,000. Additionally, installation and monthly service fees will add to your total locker system cost.
Why does your building need a package delivery system?
Property staff members are always overwhelmed with managing packages, especially given the boom in online shopping. Even worse, they oversee a nearly unmanageable amount of deliveries during the holidays
So, in order to efficiently manage the intake, storage, and distribution of residents’ packages, you must implement a robust package delivery system.
Here’s how a great package management system benefits your property:
- Preventing parcel theft. As your property experiences an increase in package deliveries, it also becomes more susceptible to package theft. In fact, an estimated 1.7 million packages go missing every day in the United States. But you can prevent theft at your building by providing a safe, access-controlled place for couriers to store packages.
- Saving time for property staff. Arguably the group most affected by increased deliveries is your staff. It can take hours — or sometimes days — to process, organize, and notify residents of packages. But with a parcel locker management system, building staff spends less time dealing with parcels. Instead, they focus on completing more important tasks, such as fulfilling maintenance requests.
- Guaranteeing smooth delivery. Missing an important package is detrimental to resident satisfaction. Luckily, with an electronic parcel delivery locker system, you guarantee that residents receive their packages without delays (or dreaded “Sorry we missed you” notes).
How do electronic parcel lockers work?
Electronic parcel lockers are a safe way to provide residents with 24/7 access to picking up packages. They work by requiring a unique PIN or QR code to open the automated locker. This means that couriers and residents can only open the lockers when they’ve been approved to do so. As a result, deliveries are secure, and packages are less susceptible to theft.
Steps to using an electronic parcel locker system:
- A courier accesses the building and enters their designated PIN into the system.
- The courier then scans each parcel and selects which resident received the package.
- Next, the courier places each package into a locker. Once closed, each locker locks automatically.
- After that, the electronic parcel locker system sends an alert to the recipient with a unique PIN or QR code (via email or text). Some parcel locker software comes with an app, which sends residents a push notification.
- Finally, residents unlock the correct locker with their credentials to retrieve their package. The locker component locks automatically when closed.
Pros & cons of electronic parcel lockers
Although electronic parcel lockers are a huge step up from having no package management system, consider the pros and cons of this system before investing.
Advantages of electronic parcel lockers:
- Residents are alerted immediately when they receive a package. And because the lockers are accessible 24/7, residents can pick up packages at their convenience.
- If a resident is out of town, parcel locker systems keep their package safe until they return home.
- Offering contactless delivery is preferable in a post-COVID world. Immunocompromised residents can rest easy knowing that one less pair of hands handled their packages.
- Package locker systems allow your staff to focus their attention on more important projects.
Disadvantages of electronic parcel lockers:
- Since locker compartments are predetermined, you may end up with large packages that don’t fit into any available space. This means large, expensive items like furniture or appliances are left in the lobby, requiring your staff to manage them.
- Some delivery couriers will ignore the package lockers. Instead, they’ll opt to leave packages in the lobby, by the unit door, or at the building’s front door. Not only does this defeat the purpose of the parcel lockers, but it also opens the door for package theft.
- Most electronic parcel lockers have no security features. As a result, anyone can hack the system and steal packages — leaving you with no evidence of who committed the larceny.
- Because of the hefty upfront cost, you’ll have to budget for months to afford these lockers. In fact, you may even have to raise rent prices to make ends meet.
- Without a building access control system, couriers can’t access the package lockers for late-night deliveries.
Watch how the ButterflyMX package room works:
The best alternative to electronic parcel lockers
The best alternative to an electronic parcel locker system is a package room.
Don’t compromise your parcel management by cramming packages into small cubbies. Instead, give them an entire room.
What’s more, the best package rooms are protected by the same advanced security measures at lockers without compromising space or convenience.
Electronic parcel lockers vs. package rooms
Consider these key differences when choosing your new package management system:
|Electronic Parcel Lockers||Package Rooms|
|Expensive upfront costs of up to $21,000.||More affordable than a package locker system. You just need to purchase a video access control system and set up shelves in an empty room.|
|Minimal security features.||Robust security includes a video intercom that snaps a time- and date-stamped photo of every entry. You also have the option to purchase an in-room security camera.|
|Restrictive compartment sizes.||Package rooms can accommodate packages of all sizes. And you can always change the configuration to accommodate your building’s changing needs.|
|Installation must be outsourced and could take several hours. Not to mention that it’ll disrupt residents entering and leaving your building as it’s being installed.||In just a few hours, your package room can be set up by placing shelves in the room while the access control system is installed at its door.|
- Electronic parcel lockers are one secure package management solution.
- Because parcel lockers have electronic locks, they can only be opened by delivery couriers and residents with PIN or QR codes.
- While electronic parcel lockers prevent theft and offer contactless delivery, they come with a hefty price tag.
- The best alternative is a package room system, which is more affordable, customizable, and secure.