Online shopping impact on buildings and property management

Online shopping has become an essential and favourite past-time while we wait out the coronavirus pandemic. Staggering parcel delivery volumes have accelerated the adverse impact on buildings and property management. Here’s what property managers need to know about 2020 and beyond.

Online shopping and parcel delivery volumes have reached epic levels in 2020. Australia Post confirmed this with the release of their 2020 ecommerce industry report late June. The report looks at the impact of the pandemic. It confirms our largest delivery network saw e-commerce growth of 80% “in the eight weeks following the WHO’s announcement”.

This astounding online shopping growth is connected to people being forced online who otherwise wouldn’t shop that way. Australians, like much of the rest of the world, have had to adjust to isolation, closures, and working from home. “A million more people overall [are] shopping online every week when compared to the average in 2019,” said Ben Franzi, Australia Post General Manager Parcel and Express Services. April alone saw 200,000 new online shoppers enter the market. 

So, exactly how do more online shoppers affect our buildings? What’s the impact on property management at a time where keeping occupants, and the wider community, safe is paramount? 

Online shopping: impact on buildings

Let’s look at the impact of online shopping on buildings more broadly for a moment. High online sales are driving an industrial property boom. It’s a push to build bigger, automated warehouses to cater for high online ordering volumes. High online sales are also forcing a delivery services boom. Australia Post has been investing heavily in growing their parcel delivery infrastructure. Other businesses like Taxi’s and Uber are now offering delivery services to remain relevant. All of this creates a bottleneck at the building when there are no parcel lockers.

Steady growth in pre-pandemic online shopping has always been a problem for buildings not equipped with smart parcel lockers. Facility staff and work and living spaces are simply being overwhelmed. Manual processes of logging deliveries and notifying recipients, ad hoc storage of parcels (even in newly designed assets), and queueing up at reception to collect deliveries all result in inefficient daily operations and hazardous, unsightly spaces. 

Inefficiencies in operations ultimately equal ‘costs which could be avoided’. Parcel lockers help streamline operations. When a delivery is made via an on-premises parcel management system, deliveries go straight into the electronic parcel lockers. There’s no need for interaction with building staff. Recipients collect quickly, at their own convenience. Building staff, tenants and their employees enjoy productivity gains.

Productivity gains for building occupants also relate to the way parcel lockers keep couriers on the ground floor. They eliminate the need for couriers to travel throughout buildings, congesting busy lifts and delivering door to door. Parcel management systems can also remove delivery traffic from the building altogether when they’re located outside. A critical impact online shopping is having on buildings is that more packages means many more courier visits. Around the globe, high-density environments are being asked to keep visitor numbers low. 

Online shopping: impact on property management in 2020

Property management in 2020 requires keeping pace with parcel delivery increases and the added complexity of keeping building occupants safe from the pandemic. There is enormous pressure to provide hygienic processes and reduce physical interactions throughout buildings and in lifts. Hygienic, no-touch processes and physical distancing for deliveries is simply not possible without a 24/7 parcel locker system to intervene. 

Apartments without a 24/7 parcel locker are feeling the brunt of online shopping volume increases as Aussie’s are told to stay home as much as possible. The move towards a contactless ‘drop-and-go’ delivery service has also increased parcel theft. When a parcel locker system is not available on premises, couriers are forced to leave goods at doorsteps or ‘in a safe place’. Both of these problems have meant many recipients can no longer receive their deliveries at home. 

“We know buildings in which concierge has had to stop taking deliveries at all due to health precautions or high theft issues,” explains Groundfloor™ Director, Lauren Melton.

Commercial facilities face added pressure with special requirements for getting workers back into the office. Safe Work Australia’s guidelines for deliveries into the workplace include:

  • physical distancing, including through contactless deliveries
  • minimising the number of workers dealing directly with deliveries
  • And, limiting the number of people in the workplace at any given time

Urgent: No-touch, on-premises parcel delivery and collection! 

The demand for no-touch, on-premises parcel delivery and collection has reached a new level of urgency. As student residences, apartments, and offices focus on providing a COVIDsafe environment, requests for Groundfloor’s solution have more than doubled. Interest in getting started has also hastened. 

“Recently, we shipped a client’s lockers interstate and went live just two weeks after their enquiry. That’s the urgency we’re dealing with now.”

When health concerns of the new coronavirus first surfaced, Groundfloor™ parcel management systems added to their no-touch delivery capabilities. No-touch delivery was an existing feature; a core element of Groundfloor’s award-winning software. It was initially designed to ensure even faster delivery. COVID-19 gave the feature a new context and expedited Groundfloor’s addition of a ‘no-touch collection’ feature. This complete end-to-end contactless process supports both couriers and recipients during the pandemic and beyond. 

Online shopping beyond 2020

Online shopping beyond 2020 will force us to maintain a sense of caution and awareness. Future pandemics are now imaginable. Health precautions will remain crucial to the reopening and reoccupying of commercial, retail, and high-density environments. 

“Social distancing will remain a priority in the months to come so contactless will be key and services like 24/7 Parcel Lockers give shoppers choice and flexibility” said Franzi.

Growth in online shopping is expected to remain high. Last-mile delivery options will continue to evolve and streamline. Delivery times will continue to get faster. Recipient’s expectations will grow more demanding. Beyond the challenges of this year lie the challenges to bring efficiency and sustainability to the built environment. To not only cope but thrive in the next phase of property management.

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