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Speedy delivery: How Intelligent Locker solutions are transforming university mailrooms

by Brian McKone 
 
Students in line
Move-in day across college campuses is quite a different scene than in years past, with packed cars, boxes piled high and students bringing everything they could possibly need to live, learn and play while away at school. Now getting everything students need or want at their home away from home is a lot more accessible. Thanks to the convenience of online shopping and package delivery services like Amazon Prime and Google Express, students are showing up with less and ordering more, which means one thing for university mailrooms — lots and lots of packages.

Ordering and shipping are the easy parts. Getting that package into a student’s hands — or what’s often referred to as “the last mile" — can be quite a headache for both institutions and their students.

According to Campus Technology, Lehigh University has seen a 10 – 12% growth year after year for the past 10 years when it comes to package delivery on their campus.1

When campuses are inundated with packages, students are forced to wait in long lines, work around the mailroom's hours and even check in multiple times with mailroom staff to find out the status of a single package. This wastes students' time, causes stress on mailroom staff, and can prohibit students from getting the supplies they need to successfully live and learn while at school.

Introducing a better way

Universities across the country are turning to solutions that use parcel lockers, or what's also known as Intelligent Lockers — a faster, more reliable and convenient solution to get packages into the hands of students.

With Intelligent Lockers:

 

  • Packages arrive at a central receiving area on campus.
  • Packages are then sorted and receive a unique system barcode.
  • Packages are delivered to a central bank of lockers located on campus, or a set of lockers in or near a student’s dorm.
  • Packages are scanned and placed into an individual Intelligent Locker and the locker is locked.
  • An email or text message is automatically generated to the student, notifying them they have a package. This notification also contains a unique one-time use access code and the locker number containing their package.
  • At their convenience, the student arrives at the lockers and enters their unique access code, accessing the locker and retrieving their package.

Get it to ‘em quicker

When students are shelling out cash for shipping or express shipping, they’re often eager to get their package in hand. By cutting out the steps involving the mailroom and mailroom personnel, students can grab their package anytime after receiving notification that it has arrived and is awaiting pickup.
 
Infographic of comparison between traditional mailrooms vs mailrooms with intelligent lockers

To help avoid the masses of students clamoring to get their packages at the same time, institutions are turning to Intelligent Locker solutions for their instant notifications and streamlined automation.

Avoid the rush

Students often order textbooks online from sites like Amazon, Chegg and Half.com in an attempt to save money and time, instead of purchasing from the campus bookstore. Some even go the rental textbook route. What should be a smart decision often turns sour when students are unable to get their books and supplies before the start of class due to mailroom backups.

When institutions run on a semester or quarterly year, students typically need things around the same time — meaning the mailroom can get flooded with packages a few weeks out of the year.

According to Business Insider2, some professors will make books available only on Amazon because they know the price difference between Amazon and the campus bookstore will lead to nobody buying the book on campus.

In an article in the University of Connecticut's The Daily Campus3, university spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said, “As I understand it, we received about four times as many packages as usual this fall. They range from small packages to very large boxes containing mini-fridges and other sizeable items.”

To help avoid the masses of students clamoring to get their packages at the same time, institutions are turning to Intelligent Locker solutions for their instant notifications and streamlined automation, allowing students to bypass the busy mailroom altogether.

Restore sender confidence

When a parent sends a care package or homemade cookies to their son or daughter, or ships them something online, they want to know that it will reach their potentially hungry college student safely and on time. However, a common complaint among higher education parents is that their package spent days lost in the mailroom or never arrived at all, despite paying for express shipping in some cases.

With Intelligent Locker solutions, once a package is scanned and placed into the Intelligent Locker, the student is notified right away that they have a package waiting for them via email or text message that is sent automatically. These automation processes reduce the amount of time a package spends in the university mailroom and decreases the number of times the package changes hands — resulting in a shorter, more accurate chain of custody.

See how you can get students their packages quicker and more efficiently with Intelligent Locker solutions. You can also explore our other student experience solutions or contact us today.

Get efficient and convenient package pick-up for students

Send instant notifications and get packages into your students' hands fast with this electronic locker system.
 
 
Brian McKone
Brian McKone, Senior Regional Manager for Ricoh USA, Inc. leads strategy development and generates strategic customer relationships for Ricoh’s Higher Education Advanced Services Group. Over the past four years, he has completed numerous projects focused on enhancing the student, faculty and administrative experience.
 
 
 
1 Source: DiMaria, Frank. "The 'Amazon Effect' on the University Mailroom." Campus Technology. N.p., 17 Nov. 2016. Web. 1 Feb. 2017.
2 Source: Udland, Myles. "Amazon Prime is wreaking havoc on college mailrooms." Business Insider. N.p., 6 Oct. 2015. Web. 1 Feb. 2017.
3 Constable, Kyle. "Student Amazon orders flood on-campus mailrooms." The Daily Campus. University of Connecticut, 18 Sept. 2015. Web. 1 Feb. 2017.