Dec 14, 2020 - Economy

"Shippageddon": The urban package avalanche is here

A large stack of amazon boxes and packages

Not even one full day's package delivery in my large NYC apartment building. Photo: Jennifer A. Kingson/Axios

The amount of stuff getting delivered to apartment buildings is overwhelming the ability to store it and make sure it doesn't get lost or stolen — creating opportunity for the "proptech" industry.

Why it matters: "Proptech" companies sell technology products that solve real estate problems — in this case, systems à la Amazon Lockers — and this year they're slavering at the surfeit of package deliveries.

Driving the news: As people order everything from gym equipment to car tires online, apartment buildings are converting laundry, bike, storage and common rooms into package areas.

  • Landlords are using software systems like BuildingLink and Notifi that alert residents to deliveries.
  • Some are creating physical spaces — like shelves, lockers and cabinets — for secure pickup and storage.
  • But mail room constraints aren't the only problem: Apartment staffers are overworked and stressed out from the crush of packages, which has intensified since big shippers expanded weekend deliveries.

"Currently around 20 percent of residents at a multifamily property receive at least one package per day," Multifamily Properties Quarterly reported in November.

  • "That could mean staff are spending, on average, five hours a day processing and sorting packages instead of assisting residents."

How it works: Instead of making residents paw through huge piles of boxes in the lobby, buildings are hiring companies to build modular systems where deliveries of all type — from the local dry cleaner to GrubHub and Uber Eats — can be locked away for recipients to retrieve.

  • "We have a property in L.A. that converted an entire floor to be a package room to accommodate the type of shipping its residents were doing," said Donna Logback, head of marketing at Package Concierge, which sells such systems.
  • "The beauty of the lockers is that you’re not having that human-to-human contact — and you don’t have a kayak waiting in the lobby for a week."
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