December 14, 2020 urbanYVR
‘Tis the season, as they say, although this year looks markedly different from holiday seasons past. In many cities across Canada, mall parking lots are empty and visits with Santa are happening on Zoom. This new (albeit temporary) landscape means that the vast majority of holiday shopping is happening online this year. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and Boxing Day all translate into the busiest time of year for online retail sales, and, by consequence, the busiest time of year for parcel deliveries.
For those in multi-residential buildings – some of which house hundreds, or even thousands, of online shoppers – the holiday season can be particularly challenging when it comes to managing deliveries. In addition to dealing with the overwhelming volume, ensuring that parcels are kept safe from opportunistic thieves can be a taxing and time-consuming affair. The solution for those in-the-know has come in the form of a secure and fully automated smart parcel locker, such as those by Snaile – Canada’s Parcel Locker Company.
According to recent statistics, one in 20 online orders never makes it to its intended recipient. Much of this grim statistic can be attributed to parcel theft. By now we have all become familiar with the term “porch pirate.” It has been bandied about by the media to describe those who steal parcels from the porches and doorsteps of single-family homes. Some of these sophisticated criminals have even been known to stalk delivery trucks and pick up anything that carriers make the mistake of leaving in unsecured locations.
Unfortunately, multi-residential buildings are by no means immune to this phenomenon; in fact, the porch pirate has a multi-residential counterpart: the lobby looter. These unscrupulous criminals have discovered various new ways to circumvent the traditional security measures that used to suffice before parcel volumes reached their current all-time high – methods including buzzer bombing (buzzing several residents at random in the hopes of someone granting them access via the intercom), doorway stalking (entering while a resident enters or exits the building), and impersonating maintenance personnel and even carriers to blend in to the building’s backdrop while in pursuit of parcels left in lobbies hallways and other common areas).
The increasingly sophisticated methods being employed by porch pirates and lobby looters stand to reason as parcel theft has become a highly lucrative endeavour. According to an American study, parcel theft south of the border is estimated to account for $25 million in lost goods and services every day. And while Canadian estimates are more difficult to come by, a recent survey among 1,500 Canadians conducted by a major carrier company, found that one in three online shoppers had experienced parcel theft in 2020 alone, compared with one in four just a year earlier – a rise likely due, at least in part, to the exponential increase in opportunities brought about by Covid-related restrictions and subsequent e-commerce transactions.
The cost, of course, is more than just monetary – also at stake are the reputations of retailers and carrier companies, not to mention the countless human resource hours required to respond to inquiries and lost parcel claims. As for property management companies, the challenge of managing and securing parcels can overwhelm building personnel, causing burnout and decreased productivity, and can also result in unhappy residents, as well as the plethora of liability concerns and security risks associated with parcel theft.
There is as end in sight, however, to the recent reign of the lobby looter. For many multi-residential stakeholders, the most effective fix has proven to be the addition of a smart parcel locker. The modular and entirely customizable units produced by Canadian owned and operated Snaile, for example, are made of industrial grade stainless steel and have several security features in place to keep residents’ parcels safe from theft. These features include secure and confidential access codes generated for each new delivery, bank-grade system hardware and software, mounted cameras capturing CCTV surveillance footage 24/7, along with a pinhole camera directly above the touch-screen terminal. The lockers have also been manufactured to withstand Canadian winters and can therefore be installed indoors or outdoors, making the installation possible in any number of spaces.
In addition to the comfort and security that the lockers offer, they also streamline the management of parcel delivery by offering an entirely automated user experience for carriers, residents and property management personnel. Carriers simply go to the locker’s terminal, select the appropriate unit number and compartment size and deposit the parcel. The moment the compartment door closes, the recipient receives a delivery alert via SMS or email containing a unique, one-time PIN or a scannable QR code (allowing for the additional benefit of contactless collection), which is then used to collect the parcel when convenient – meaning an end to the pesky delivery cards that can often translate into hours spent travelling to pick-up a parcel. This simple and secure process eliminates the need for concierge staff to accept and store deliveries and keeps hallways and lobbies free of parcels –a cause of costly fire-code violations and an open invitation to theft.
This holiday season is closing out what has been for many a very challenging year. As families plan to celebrate from a distance, many are expressing their love by sending gifts rather than delivering them in person, and children’s wish-lists are being fulfilled with a little help from carrier companies now more than ever before. Although next year promises to be a better one with a return to normal on the horizon, the way we shop has likely undergone a permanent shift. With that in mind, there is no better time to arm ourselves against parcel theft and claim victory over the lobby looter, the new-age grinch.
“Residents need the assurance that their valuables are going to be protected,” says Snaile CEO Patrick Armstrong. He considers the recent surge in demand for the company’s smart parcel locker to be a clear indicator that property management companies have come to understand that the provision of this amenity is no longer viewed as a perk or a luxury. “By safeguarding residents’ belongings, our multi-residential clients are not only providing a major convenience, but also an invaluable sense of security for their residents overall.” And that is a priceless gift, particularly at this time of year.