Condo designs adapt to popularity of online shopping

by Michelle Hopkins, NEXTHOME

Online shopping is exploding, driven mostly by Millennials who love the ease and convenience of home delivery. According to Opstart, in 2011, Canadians spent $6.6 billion on online purchases. By 2016, that amount tripled to $19.2 billion and is expected to rise to $39 billion this year.

It’s not only parcel distributions that are increasing. Canadians are embracing grocery and food deliveries, too. It hasn’t taken long for companies like Whole Foods, Skip the Dishes and Loblaw to jump on the E-Commerce bandwagon.

But as online shopping continues to grow, so do the issues with delivery. That’s because many residents aren’t home during the day to accept their parcels. Much of the delivery and security responsibilities falls onto a concierge, if there even is one, or packages are simply left in the lobby for residents to find and pick-up.

Concerns over theft and misplaced deliveries have become factors driving multi-family developers in B.C. to rethink the configuration of their condominium buildings.

Five years ago, Vancouver’s Bosa Properties was one of the first developers to introduced its BosaFresh program, special temperature-controlled delivery rooms in its new condo buildings.

“These cold storage rooms have now morphed into refrigerated lockers,” says Mark Kopinya, Bosa vice-president of development. “We are always thinking about how to create better living experiences in our condo towers.”
Bosa recently completed RiverSky, two towers in New Westminster with 519 condominiums, boasting both refrigerated and parcel lockers.

“As online shopping keeps increasing, we have had to adapt some of our new towers’ lobbies at the last minute,” says Kopinya. “As technology continues to evolve, we continuously watch trends to see what is required in our new projects. It’s all about Bosa wanting to make life easier and more seamless for our condo owners.”

Another local developer, Boffo Properties, is implementing an electronic locker system in the lobbies of its upcoming Coquitlam project, Smith & Farrow towers.

“In-building package delivery acceptance is no doubt a growing demand and something that homeowners are beginning to expect,” says Laura Anzulovich, Boffo Properties marketing manager. “The design of a building’s first-floor common area needs to be reconsidered to account for the space required for this influx of parcel delivery and storage. Today’s homeowners need somewhere to store their endless Amazon orders and keep their grocery delivery cold until they get home from work. The only way to respond to this demand is to incorporate new technology and systems, while eliminating manual sorting by a concierge and unpleasant mounds of boxes stacked in lobbies.”

Basically, lockers contain compartments of various sizes and some that are refrigerated, including a tower with a built-in touchscreen application that a courier would use to check-in packages.

“A resident of the building will get a text message notification that a package has arrived for them with a code to enter on the touchscreen when they retrieve the package,” notes Anzulovich. “This system eliminates the middle-man, keeps deliveries organized and allows for a seamless package pick-up for residents.”

Patrick Armstrong, CEO of Snaile Inc., an Ontario-based company that produces automated parcel lockers, says the “demand for refrigerated and parcel lockers in multi-residential buildings in B.C. has spiked greatly.

“Vancouver is on par with Toronto for installing parcel rooms or lockers in their new builds,” says Armstrong, adding lockers are typically located in the vestibule, lobby or courtyard. “We are also seeing demand for lockers in existing buildings because concierges just can’t handle the sheer volume of online parcel deliveries.”

Automated parcel lockers are not only convenient but secure.

“These lockers are very thick. They are bolted to both the floor and wall and are equipped with bank-like cameras,” says Armstrong. “With E-Commerce anticipated to be the largest retail channel by 2020, the need for these lockers will only continue to grow.”

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