So Many Packages

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It seems silly, but there’s a problem in the United States surrounding online shopping. The rise of services like Amazon have already had a harsh effect on retail storefronts, but now, the problem has reached the postal industry. As noted in a recent article by the Wallstreet Journal, the surge of parcels from online retailers has created new issues for property managers. Aside from the issue of storing an apartment building’s worth of packages, real estate companies now need to devote an increasing amount of their personal funds to handling deliveries. In recent years, different businesses have implemented a variety of solutions to fix this problem. Amazon set up delivery lockers in partner locations across the United States, and the company continues to push the frontier of online shopping with same day delivery and third party parcel services. Services like Fedex and UPS changed the mail industry when they began to deliver mail, and the rise in online shopping presents another turning point for the delivery industry.

Amazon’s same-day delivery service has caused a lot of controversy since its launch. In a Forbes article from June, Tom Ryan quotes some generally differing responses to Amazon’s move. According to Chris Petersen

“It is a differentiator that will be difficult to replicate because it requires substantial infrastructure, systems and processes which are not easily created overnight. … If there ever was a wake-up call for brick-and-mortar, this should be it. If you can’t match free same-day delivery, you had better deliver over-the-top customer experience in your stores.”

Petersen seems to believe that store-front operation in major cities will face the wraith of Amazon’s new delivery service the quickest. Amazon has already set up warehouses in some of the country’s most active delivery locations, and same-day delivery will certainly put increasing pressure on box stores and general stores to compete. However, rural areas will continue to maintain during this explorative period in the delivery industry. Amazon does not yet have the infrastructure to offer these expedited shipping options everywhere. That being said, rural retailers should certainly contemplate how they might compete in the future.

This increase in deliveries also presents an issue for homes without a package management system (houses, smaller apartment buildings). If all these packages are being delivered during the day, where do they go when residents aren’t home? A quick Google search reveals countless stories about mail theft across the country, and authorities have recommended various solutions for combatting the problem. A document provided by the City of Portland has several suggestions for securing deliveries:

  • Ship your package to a location where someone you know will be available to receive it, which may include your work address or a relative, neighbor, or friend’s home. Some shipping companies will allow you to choose a preferred time and date as well as to change locations when the package is in route.
  • Require a signature for deliveries.
  • Track your package and request an email, text, or other alert about the status of delivery.
  • Consider using other delivery options that are available. Retailers and shipping companies may deliver to other secured locations including lockers or allow you to pick up at the retail store or package carrier.
  • If there are no other options, provide specific instructions about where the package should be left on your property. Choose a location that conceals the item, so that it can’t be seen by people walking or driving in the area.
  • If you are going on vacation, place deliveries on hold until you return from your trip.
  • If you frequently receive deliveries to your residence, consider purchasing a locking parcel delivery box that can be bolted down or secured.

These suggestions are all great, but using non-home solutions somewhat defeats the purpose of having orders delivered. Having packages sent to your place of work is a great idea, but that’s not a viable option for a lot of consumers. Amazon has already began to tackle this issue by using third-party parcel deliveries to handle their increasing package responsibilities, and most recently, the company announced a new program to hire drivers to deliver packages in a fashion similar to Uber. The increase in delivery services could present consumers with alternative delivery times that compliment their work schedule, solving delivery problems like package theft and missed parcels.

New services are also popping up to handle the package hysteria. Doorman allows customers to schedule deliveries at their convenience. An order is shipped to Doorman’s facilities, and then the customer can schedule a time between 6PM-Midnight to have the package delivered. This idea is a great solution, and with the increase in online shopping, Doorman will be crucial for consumers with frequent deliveries.

However, the rise of services like Amazon same-day and Doorman could present their own problems. Deliveries happen during the day because most people are awake and active for business hours. If deliveries increasingly come later in the evening, trucks and cars might disrupt otherwise peaceful neighborhoods. Noise and traffic issues could prompt legislature to handle new delivery services, but this idea is purely hypothetical. It will be interesting to see how consumers and brick & mortar stores react to the rapidly changing shopping infrastructure, and new delivery services will undoubtedly play an important role in consumerism’s future.

2 thoughts on “So Many Packages

  1. Loved the ideas presented in this post. In America, we never cease to continue doing it BIG and this isn’t always a good thing. As a country, we are absolutely obsessed with convenience. Who would have thought 20 years ago that we would be dealing with issues regarding “too much mail” due to the growth of online shopping and frankly, the laziness that has developed within people when it comes to picking up their own goods. There are apps for nearly everything now that allow you to basically never have to leave your home. I have never heard of Doorman and while I find this concept extremely interesting and an actually very impressive idea, it is almost comical that there would be an additional party involved between the delivery man and the consumer just to add convenience on the consumer end. There is an app called InstaCart which I have, shamefully, used once that actually brings your groceries to your doorstep. You literally go online and choose a store near you such as Ralphs, Whole Foods, etc., and put in your basket all of the items that you want to purchase. You are assigned a personal shopper and this individual can text you if the store is out of something and propose replacements and more. It was a very interesting experience to say the least, but as I was participating in this and sat on my bed working on my homework, I felt a sense of guilt that I was having a stranger do my grocery shopping for me! Although these sort of apps and programs can feel degrading for the “delivery man”, it also made me realize how many additional jobs have been available from these concepts. For someone who struggles to pay their bills, it might be nice to have the opportunity to grocery shop for people in your area to make a few extra bucks in the evening. Just the same, Doorman workers might really appreciate the simple way to make extra cash by delivering people’s packages to them at their requested time after they get off work. It is crazy to see how quickly things change and how while life is consistently made easier by the development of these innovative programs, it is also made more and more complicated, with middleman hired for nearly everything to make the receiver’s end more and more convenient.

  2. I really enjoyed your argument. But, what about these new Amazon drones? I imagine that these drones will also replace the property manager. Their job will be replaced by these new devices. I find this the most fearful consequence of faster delivery services.

    Our obsession with faster living is the root of the problem, and due to the onset of the new Amazon and Wal-Mart delivery drones, it will become the standard. Dr. Stephanie Brown of the New York Post writes that we are “caught in a chaotic, frenzied spiral of a new addiction, people are chasing money, power, success and a wilder, faster pace of life.” Advancing technology, like these drones, is expediting our “do it now” society and it is disrupting behavior, meaningful experiences, communication, and business. It is dehumanizing society as we are increasingly replacing people with robots. These property managers have a greater fear to face than the inconvenience of surplus packaging.

    But what can we do? It’s convenient and fast and that’s what we like. It’s hard to fight against drones or one-day shipping because it is just so convenient. At the same time, this kind of technology is shaped by people. We chose to make delivery faster. Technology is then socially controlled by you and by me. I am fearful of the implications technology may present to our future lifestyle, but we wanted it this way, right?

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