package locker vs. package room

If you manage an apartment building, delivery management is probably one of your biggest pain points. Every day, you and your team must accept incoming packages, organize and store them securely, and route them to the corresponding residents — all while juggling your other job duties. To save time and spare your sanity, you need a quick, simple, and efficient package management process.

Property technology (proptech) has brought us two great solutions: package lockers and package rooms. But which one is better, and should you invest in a package locker or a package room? In this post, we’ll discuss which solution best meets the needs of your staff, your building, and your residents.

Here’s what to consider when deciding between a package locker or package room:


What is a package locker?

Package lockers are a popular package intake, storage, and pick-up solution. Property managers install package lockers in a convenient location, usually the building’s lobby.

In some cases, each apartment unit has its own designated locker compartment. Alternatively, the lockers can be unassigned, in which case residents are told which locker the courier placed their packages in.

Most modern package lockers are electronic, meaning you can open them by entering a digital PIN or code instead of using a physical key. This also means that couriers can easily open the lockers with their designated PIN. Smart lockers may also pair with a mobile app so tenants can manage their deliveries or receive push notifications on their phones when they’ve received a delivery.


ButterflyMX package room


What is a package room?

As the name implies, a package room is a dedicated room in your apartment building where couriers can drop off packages, and residents can pick them up. This easily thwarts porch pirates that would otherwise take advantage of packages left in front of door. In contrast to package lockers, which require installing large metal containers that can take up valuable space, package rooms make use of existing space — you only need an access control solution for the room.

Package room access can be managed by a traditional access control system, like fobs or keycards, or a specialized solution designed to grant access to the building and the package room. It allows couriers to enter with a designated delivery PIN and residents to enter with their own unique PIN.


Watch how ButterflyMX’s package room works:


Package lockers vs. package rooms

If you’re having difficulty choosing between a package locker or a package room, we’re here to help.

At the end of the day, package lockers and package rooms are both efficient delivery management solutions. Both solutions are a step up from traditional package management processes, such as leaving packages with a concierge or dropping them in an insecure vestibule.

The goals of both package lockers and package rooms are:

  • Ensure courier access
  • Keep packages safe and secure behind a locked door
  • Allow residents to retrieve packages at any time
  • Streamline the delivery process and cut down on building staff involvement

Though both solutions offer substantial advantages, which one is better?

Ultimately, package rooms provide greater benefits for residents and property staff alike, making them the best package delivery system.


Disadvantages of package lockers

Electronic package lockers are growing in popularity, but you may encounter a few problems if you install them in your building.

Here are four common disadvantages of package lockers:

  1. Require a lot of space with minimal storage
  2. Restrictive for large packages and courier compliance
  3. Lack of scalability
  4. Expensive


1. They require a lot of space with minimal storage

Package lockers take up a lot of space but leave relatively little room to store packages. Even the best package lockers for apartment buildings have only a few compartment size options and often lack lockers large enough for bulky or oddly shaped boxes. If your residents frequently receive large deliveries, you’ll run into a lot of storage issues.

Or maybe most residents in your building only receive small packages that take up just a third of the locker space. Now you’ve designated too much locker space for each resident, ultimately wasting space in your building.

On the other hand, package rooms offer more flexibility in terms of space because they can accommodate packages of all shapes and sizes. Plus, you’re never wasting space because you’re not designating a limited amount of square footage for each unit.


Package Management


2. They’re restrictive for large packages and courier compliance

Many package lockers don’t have big enough compartments for larger-than-average packages. As a result, couriers end up leaving large packages with the front desk or building staff, or worse, leaving them unattended in the lobby.

There are two problems with this solution:

  1. Building staff is left managing the package delivery. What’s the point of investing in a package locker if an ever-increasing number of oversized packages are left with the front desk or building staff? The property and its staff end up not reaping the benefits from the investment. and valuable space is being wasted.
  2. Courier compliance. Spending time training carriers about your package locker system is time-consuming. You’ve got to convince the delivery person that putting each package into individual lockers during their hectic route is worthwhile. And the moment a delivery person realizes they can leave a package with the front desk, they’ll leave all of their packages (regardless of size) with the front desk, making your package locker moot.


3. They lack scalability

Package lockers lack the scalability and flexibility that package rooms offer. For instance, once you install package lockers in your lobby or mailroom, you can’t change the size, shape, or distribution of space.

Imagine you currently have one resident renting a two-bedroom apartment. The package locker may accommodate their needs as a single renter, but what happens if they move out and three people move into the two-bedroom unit? Now you have three people sharing the same package locker space with potentially triple the number of incoming packages.

Package rooms, on the other hand, are flexible. You can remove or add shelving as needed to ensure maximum efficiency. You’re also not limited by the unchangeable dimensions of the lockers.


4. They’re expensive

Package lockers will cost you a lot. Expect to pay anywhere from $6,900 to $20,000 for an entry-level locker system. Additional units or larger systems cost even more.

In addition to the hardware costs, most package locker providers also charge monthly, per-unit service fees, and/or one-time resident fees. On top of that, you must factor in maintenance costs if any component of the locker system breaks, and the lost real estate that could be used for additional living space or another amenity. All costs considered, you’re looking at a hefty bill to install package lockers in your building.


Why package rooms are better than package lockers

With these major disadvantages in mind, it’s easy to see why package rooms offer greater convenience and efficiency than package lockers. A package room is the perfect package management solution to save your building staff’s time, cut building costs, delight residents, ensure seamless deliveries, and prevent theft.


Get the 2022 guide to package management in multifamily


Package rooms are a better solution than package lockers because:

  1. They make use of existing space. Package lockers require you to find a large open space in your building where you can install the bulky hardware. Alternatively, package rooms can be set up in any room that already exists in your building. You can convert an unused supply closet or office into your package room.
  2. They’re more affordable. As aforementioned, package lockers are expensive. Package rooms, on the other hand, don’t require the purchase of costly lockers. Instead, all you’ll have to buy is shelving and an access control system or intercom to control access into the room.
  3. They require little effort to set up and maintain. Setting up a package room is as simple as installing an intercom at the package room door and placing shelves in the room. You can also go a step further by installing a security camera in the room. Overall, the room maintains itself, which saves time and money for property staff.
  4. They can be adjusted. As delivery trends change over time, you can adjust the shelving in your package room accordingly to better accommodate your residents. For example, if you notice your residents tend to order extra-large or bulky items, you can increase the spacing between shelves.
  5. They’re just as secure as package lockers — if not more secure. Just like package lockers, package rooms remain locked to building visitors and other unauthorized people. Only residents, building staff, and couriers can access the room. When you install a video intercom at the package room door, you’ll get a date- and time-stamped photo audit trail every time someone enters the room. If someone reports a missing package, you can review this log to investigate the situation. For an added layer of security, install a video camera inside the room with a simple sign that says ‘this room is under 24-hour surveillance.’ The mere thought that someone is watching will be enough to scare away any would-be thief.


Cut the cost of your package management solution

Now that you’ve decided between a package locker or package room, are you ready to cut down the cost of managing deliveries at your building and improve your package management process? Use our package calculator to see what your current process is costing you.


ButterflyMX package management system

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Jeff Granger

I'm a native Texan and tech guru who is fascinated by technology's impact on the real estate industry.