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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Snaile CEO Patrick Armstrong on parcel management solutions in multi-residential buildings

Snaile is an industry leader in Canada’s increasingly popular smart parcel locker category. The company’s CEO, Patrick Armstrong, sat down for an interview recently to shed some light on today’s parcel delivery boom and its effects on condos and apartment buildings across the country.

As e-commerce continues to soar, many multi-residential buildings are drowning in the unyielding tidal wave of parcel deliveries. Lobbies and common areas are littered with unsecured packages and concierge and security staff are struggling to keep up with the onslaught. Savvy property managers, however, are turning to smart parcel lockers, such as those by Snaile, Canada’s Parcel Locker Company, to solve the challenges brought on by the ongoing delivery boom. 

Patrick Armstrong, CEO of Snaile, sat down recently with Jessica Tomasone of RHB TV News to discuss parcel management solutions in today’s multi-residential landscape. Here are some highlights from the interview.

Video: Snaile’s CEO Interviewed on Canada’s Rental Housing Business (RHB TV)

Where are all of these deliveries coming from? 

Deliveries nowadays are occurring around the clock and they are not simply comprised of letter-mail and small parcels. Residents are having everything from their dry-cleaning to weekly groceries delivered to their homes, as well as expensive electronics and oversized items such as the increasingly popular mattresses in a box. Add to that the fact that the face of retail has likely changed forever. “We have lost a lot of brick-and-mortar retailers, unfortunately,” says Armstrong. In addition, he goes on to explain, our collective shift to working remotely more than ever before means that parcels that were once delivered to the office are now destined for our residences as well. 

Some other recent delivery trends driving the delivery boom include meal kit deliveries such as those by Hello Fresh and Good Food – companies experiencing record-level growth – as well as food delivery apps including UberEats and Skip-the-Dishes, and monthly subscription boxes serving up everything from pet supplies to custom-curated athleisure wear. All of these trends, of course, result in a litany of goods making their way into condos and apartment buildings at all hours of the day and night. 

Preventing parcel theft, ‘buzzer bombing’ and more

With the arrival of valuable merchandise, of course, comes the need to protect it from theft or damage. This rise in parcel deliveries has also resulted in a rapidly expanding need for carriers and drivers. Armstrong points out that this has led to a surge in contract drivers – in other words, drivers who are not employed by the major carrier companies, but are instead freelancers, in essence. These drivers are paid by the parcel and, as such, they are highly motivated to enter and drop as many parcels as they can, as quickly as possible. This has led to a phenomenon known as “buzzer bombing,” where a carrier buzzes several residents on the intercom, whether they have deliveries or not, to gain access to the building’s interior. Alternatively, they will follow a resident or another carrier into the building and, once inside, drop parcels in a common area such as a lobby or mailroom, take a photograph and go. This obviously leaves the parcels vulnerable to theft or damage by anyone passing by. 

The addition of smart parcel lockers mitigates this problem, not only by serving as a designated delivery area and secure storage space for parcels until they can be picked up, but also because the smart lockers are “carrier agnostic” meaning they can be used by all carrier companies and contract drivers. And the entirely automated delivery process at the locker’s touch-screen terminal means that dozens of parcels can be delivered in minutes saving carriers time and keeping residents belongings safe.  

Snaile Parcel Lockers
According to Statistics Canada, year-over-year e-commerce revenue rose by 110% between May of 2019 and May 2020. This surge of online shopping translates into a corresponding increase in parcel deliveries.

The Property Manager’s perspective

In addition to concerns around theft and damage, there are several other “operational problems,” that arise from the presence of unsecured parcels. Hallways and lobbies strewn with boxes present property management organizations with a host of liability concerns, such as tripping hazards, fire code violations, and fines for the presence of combustibles, just to name a few. These fines can quickly add up as recent legislation means charges of up to $100,000 can apply to buildings for repeat violations. 

Add to that the problem of employee overwhelm and burnout. Armstrong describes recent survey results that indicate that the process of receiving, logging, and storing a parcel, as well as notifying residents, can take up to 10 minutes per parcel by a member of the concierge team. With the current exponential parcel growth rate it is easy to see how this quickly becomes untenable. 

Enter the smart locker, which ensures automated and contactless deliveries and collections, and the cloud-based software ensures that property management personnel can access all pertinent information around each event, including access to the 24/7 video surveillance, further enhancing parcel, resident and staff security.

The resident experience

The convenience of online shopping is of course completely undermined when one has to invest time and effort to track down and pick up a missed delivery. Smart parcel lockers effectively put an end to the dreaded delivery notice cards and the need to travel to carrier depots within the confines of the delivery company’s business hours. For this reason and many of those described above, as far as residents are concerned, the arrival of the smart lockers can’t happen soon enough. In fact, Armstrong explains that recent surveys indicate that tenants now consider the units, once thought of as a luxe perk, an absolutely essential amenity. 

When asked about the future of parcel deliveries in the multi-residential landscape, Armstrong concludes “Most buildings don’t have a strategy. They’re not looking at it (parcel management) as part of their operations. How are we going to handle parcels? How are we going to handle the growth?” This, he says, needs to change. “Buildings need to make this a priority. Parcel management can no longer be an afterthought.” Judging by the company’s breakneck growth and their rapidly expanding network of smart lockers across the country, it sounds like the multi-residential market is catching on. 

Snaile smart parcel lockers
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.


Top Benefits of a Snaile Smart Parcel Locker 

  • Contactless delivery and collection
  • Reduced foot-traffic in the building
  • Secure storage of parcels, preventing theft and damage
  • The elimination of boxes and unsecured parcels throughout common areas 
  • The prevention of costly fire code violations and safety hazards
  • Significant reduction in human resource hours required to manage incoming parcels 
  • Serves as an important amenity in unstaffed buildings allowing for the safe and timely delivery of parcels
  • The modular and customizable units can be designed to accommodate countless spaces, both indoors and outdoors
  • The synergistic cloud-based software integrates seamlessly with other property management platforms

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