Odd Sized Parcels Are Forcing Condo Developers To Rethink Mailrooms

Mailrooms
Photo by jesse ramirez on Unsplash.
Mailrooms
Photo by jesse ramirez on Unsplash.

Canadians love to online shop and that’s created a challenge for condo developers and condo corporations.

In 2017, Canadian businesses sold $136 billion in goods and services online, according to VL Omni, a data integration service. With more Canadians embracing the convenience of buying digitally and having their purchases delivered to their homes, condo concierges can be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of packages arriving on a daily basis.

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According to Snaile, a Huntsville, Ontario company that produces automated parcel lockers, 67 per cent of millennials and 56 per cent of Gen Xers prefer to shop online. Older Canadians are also embracing this shopping trend, as 41 per cent of baby boomers and 28 per cent of seniors have clicked to shop. In 2015, 550 million parcels were shipped in Canada, and Canada Post parcel volume increased by 24.5 per cent in 2017 or by 47 million more parcels, with many of them coming to condo addresses.

Innovative condo developers such as Tridel and Times Group are getting ‘smart’ about this dilemma. They are among the first to embrace digital delivery solutions in Toronto and Markham by incorporating automated smart lockers in their buildings.

Tridel’s Ten York and several Times Group buildings in Markham are outfitted with automated parcel delivery systems that work with multiple services, including FedEx, UPS, Amazon, Canada Post, etc. Watch for other developers to follow suit with their new condos. The LivMore luxury rental tower at Bay and Gerrard St. also has automated parcel delivery.

Image courtesy of Tridel.

Just how do these systems work?

“The packages will have codes on them that are scanned by a reader that will detect the package size and weight,” explains Tridel’s Jim Ritchie. “The delivery guy will scan the bar code and a door in the smart locker opens, according to the size of a package. A digital message will be sent to the resident and a picture taken of the delivery person and the individual removing the package for security purposes.”

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The automated parcel delivery is among myriad ‘smart’ solutions included in Tridel Connect branded buildings, with Ten York being the first. Other features of Tridel Connect buildings include fibre optic wiring, ultra-high speed Internet, keyless digital door locks and wall pads that allows residents to control the temperature in their unit, set the security alarm, communicate with the concierge and get notifications from the property manager.

The parcel delivery systems will take some of the burden off concierges, who are increasingly spending most of their time accepting and delivering residents’ packages.

Condo consultant and researcher Jeanhy Shim of Toronto’s Housing Lab spent many years living in a condo and as a condo board member. She said parcel deliveries were a “constant struggle” in the 356-unit building she lived in west of the downtown core.

“We had a tiny parcel room then cut the property management office in half to make room for packages and they were still piled up,” she says. Finding physical space was an issue, but it created a time management problem, as dealing with parcels ate up most of the concierge’s time.

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Shim says more developers are going to have to address this issue and plan for generous rooms to accommodate online purchase deliveries. Condominium corporations in older buildings will also have to address this and may have to find space to set up automated lockers. Shim worked on a project in New York City several years ago where the building included a 2,000-square-foot parcel room with some temperature-controlled storage for grocery or flower deliveries. With quick-to-prepare meal kits you can order online becoming a popular trend in the GTA, developers might want to consider how to accommodate those type of deliveries, she says.

Parcel Delivery
Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash.

Shim suggests some condo developers might want to follow the lead of Plaza, which has PenguinPickUp as a tenant in its Musee mixed-used condo building on Adelaide Street West. The service offers free one-stop pick-up for online purchases, ranging from clothes to tech gadgets to groceries.

Automated mailboxes are also spreading to the low-rise world. For example, Danby Appliances is making its first venture into the smart technology market with Parcel Guard, a smart mailbox that will replace the traditional mailbox by offering secure protection for packages left by delivery services. The homeowner will unlock the smart mailbox with an app.

What people can’t have delivered to automated lockers or smart mailboxes – at least not yet – is legally purchased marijuana from government-run online stores. Currently, legal pot is delivered for a $5 fee by Canada Post. Customers who aren’t home get a notice to pick it up in person at a Canada Post outlet, where they will have to confirm they’re older than 19. Condo concierges are not allowed to accept delivery of pot packages for their buildings’ tenants.

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