January 10, 2021 urbanYVR
No matter how old you are, or how frequently you shop online, there is still something exciting about the arrival of a parcel. Without diving into too deeply into the psychology of it all, there is just something universally rewarding about that feeling of anticipation being fulfilled by the arrival of a package with your name on it. There are even websites and YouTube channels devoted to the act of un-boxing. On the flip side, whether it’s a long-awaited brown paper package, tied up with string, or simply your groceries for the week, no one enjoys the experience of missing a delivery. For those who live in multi-residential buildings, the experience can be an all-too-common one, particularly as many condo and apartment buildings have restricted carrier foot-traffic in the interest of public health, and prohibited the delivery of unsecured parcels to lobbies and hallways. There is, however, a solution that is popping up in multi-residential buildings across the country: the smart parcel locker.
Thanks to an economy increasingly driven by the tech-loving millennials, coupled with the unprecedented circumstances brought on by the global pandemic requiring us to spend more time than ever in our homes, there has been an explosion in e-commerce in recent months. Even prior to COVID-19, parcel volume for multi-family buildings was increasing at a fast-pace, but, since the onset of the global pandemic, deliveries of every kind have exploded – with everything from groceries to time-sensitive work documents arriving around the clock. According to Pitney Bowes, “Canada’s parcel shipments reached 1.1 billion” in 2020. Whether equipped with a concierge team or not, this influx of parcels has become untenable for multi-residential apartments and condos, sometimes housing hundreds, or even thousands of parcel recipients.
Front desks are piled high, staff is overwhelmed, and valuable parcels are being left vulnerable to theft or damage. In response to this growing problem and the litany of liability concerns that come with it (from theft to costly fire code violations) many buildings have instituted policies preventing staff from accepting parcels and prohibiting carriers from dropping them in lobbies or delivering directly to unit doors. The result? More often than not, lobbies and vestibules are wall-papered in delivery notice cards. Needless to say, the Post-It® style pieces of paper fluttering in wind-strewn areas and coating glass doorways represent an unwelcome sight for tenants eager to receive their packages.
Under traditional circumstances, it is estimated that up 20% of deliveries are not made during the first attempt, which translates into hundreds of thousands of disappointed customers across the country each day. To address the growing problem and mitigate resident frustration, property management companies are turning to smart parcel lockers like those by Canadian owned and operated Snaile (pronounced Snail-ee). With increasing frequency, the sleek, stainless-steel and entirely automated units are starting to line the lobbies and foyers of buildings from coast to coast, in place of the pesky notice cards.
The convenience of online shopping is, of course, undermined entirely when one must invest a huge amount of time and energy tracking down a missed delivery. Being on the receiving end of the dreaded delivery card often means walking, driving or taking transit to a delivery warehouse or depot and being beholden to the carrier company’s hours of operation.
Before the arrival of a Snaile locker at his Vancouver apartment building, Charles S. had to spend close to two hours collecting a parcel he’d missed. “This is a life-saver,” he says when describing the building’s new amenity. “I don’t have a car to drive to Richmond (where the depot is located), so I have to take the bus and it’s 50 minutes there, and 50 minutes back.” Add to this the extra inconvenience when the parcel is bulky or heavy and one can see why the adoption of the new technology is a welcome addition for residents.
When carriers arrive at a smart locker, they simply enter the recipient’s unit number at the locker’s ATM-style terminal, select the appropriate compartment size and deposit the parcel. The simple process allows carriers to deposit numerous parcels for multiple residents within minutes, without having to travel throughout the building – this ensures that both carriers and residents benefit from the safety of a contactless exchange. For residents, the instant the compartment door closes, they receive an automated alert, via text message or email, with a confidential, single-use PIN or scannable QR code. They can then go to the locker at their convenience – at any time of day or night – to collect their parcel.
The lockers are customizable and entirely modular, so they can accommodate buildings of all sizes. They are also “carrier agnostic,” meaning they are not reserved for one carrier company or big-box retailer, but can instead be accessed by all carriers, including local goods and service providers. They even offer the option of refrigerated compartments for buildings whose residents make use of the increasingly popular meal-kit delivery services.
“As a busy professional, I don’t have a lot of time to run around and grab packages with those annoying cards left on my door. Half the time they fly away and it becomes a challenge to just to locate the package. Then there are the long lines to deal with when picking it up. Now that I have access to the Snaile Parcel Locker system in my community, I have a lot more free time and less frustration!”
– Daniel A., Snaile Locker User
As the demand for smart parcel lockers continues to increase, Snaile, Canada’s Parcel Locker Company, is meeting this demand with gusto. The company currently has installations in 24 cities across Canada, with 42 new installations taking place in December of 2020 alone, and more than 80 in the queue for just the first quarter of 2021. As the company’s CEO, Patrick Armstrong, explains, “We are committed to ensuring that the deliveries that Canadians in multi-family dwellings rely on every day are held safely and dispatched in a contactless, convenient way.” It is this commitment that will likely continue to propel the company’s rapid growth – good news for users of its smart parcel lockers, as they continue to make failed deliveries, and the notice cards that go with them, a thing of the past.