The Future of Condos, pt 1 Online Deliveries

Gone are the days of aisles and long checkout lines, the future of buying is now online. This simple, yet powerful, truth has been downplayed, ignored, and sometimes refuted by some. In the world of condos, builders need to start paying attention and take this into account. Condo Property Managers are seeing an increasing amount of packages delivered to their concierge, which is becoming a major challenge with no simple solution.

concierge_phil_sisco-Lobby concierge_phil_sisco-Storage

“It’s one of the great challenges apartment operators everywhere are dealing with today. We’re all trying to look for creative ways to do it,” said Dean Holmes, chief operating officer at Philadelphia’s Madison Apartment Group, which manages 32 housing complexes in Pennsylvania and more around the country.

The number of packages coming into his buildings has nearly doubled in the last year alone, he said.
Philly.com

761-82%2 of Canadians have purchased something online. This number is growing, and with it, the frequency of deliveries. For those who live in traditional houses, online shipping arrangements are typically one of these few options:

  • Leave packages in front of door
  • Leave packages in the back/in the garage
  • Leave packages in the closest postal office

Those who live in condos, specifically buildings with concierge services, will most likely ignore, or simply be unaware of the pending challenge. Like myself and many other online shoppers, we assume that our condo’s concierge will manage.

“One-quarter say they already order grocery products online. 61% believe going to the grocery store is an enjoyable and engaging experience. Asia-Pacific leads in willingness to use digital retailing options (60%).3
– Nielson

 

From groceries to socks

In our home, we almost exclusively purchase our groceries and household items online. Replenishing the basic essentials like socks for the kids, lightbulbs, and shampoo never require our family to leave our home. In fact, for most household items, we have automatic weekly and monthly deliveries. I can’t remember the last time I lined up at a Walmart.

Customers wrap up their holiday shopping during Walmart's Black Friday events on Thursday November 27, 2014 in Bentonville, Ark. Deep savings continue at Walmart Friday though Cyber Monday as part of five days of events in stores and online. (Photo by Gunnar Rathbun/Invision for Walmart/AP Images)Image courtesy of Fortune.com

 

Why the transition? Let’s look at the options.

Brick & mortar shopping

  • Drive to grocery store / department store
  • Look for parking
  • Walk through a massive warehouse filled with melancholy people
  • Forget things you need
  • Wait in line
  • Load up car
  • Drive home in potential traffic and bad weather
  • Unload car
onlineshoppingImage courtesy of blog.bodeoo.com

 

Online shopping

  • Freely and effortlessly peruse through thousands of items
  • Easily find what you need using search functionality
  • Price compare, and in most cases, pay less than at the brick & mortar location
  • Set up a weekly or bi-weekly schedule, and forget about it
  • Free delivery! (more often than you think)
  • Massive time and money saver, better for the environment

“Our average renter is 29 and makes a pretty good amount of money, and they buy a lot of stuff online,”
– Mike Pestronk, CEO of Post Brothers Apartments

Shopping online becomes the easy choice once you add up the costs of doing things the conventional way, not only in terms of time but money too. While my partner and I consider ourselves early adopters, we are not outliers by any means. If you haven’t purchased your laundry detergent online yet, you will in the very near future.

How am I sure? Simply put, organizations small and large are preparing you for a future of buying online. Amazon now gives you the option to add an IOT (Internet of Things) button right on your laundry machine. Running out of detergent? Press the button, and it will automatically place an order on your behalf.

amazon-tide-promo Image courtesy of Amazon.

 

Remember the few who refused to withdraw/deposit money in their bank machine? Once the line-ups got long and painful, the choice became obvious.

Take Walmart as another example. Deliveries are free after $50 worth of goods, and it only takes between 2-3 business days for packages to arrive. Many items are cheaper online than at the store. Monthly scheduled deliveries of items like snacks for the kids or toilet paper have reduced the amount of time and money needed to replenish essentials. Walmart’s transition to online is nothing new. Check out FastCompany’s article in 2012.

“We are uniquely positioned to give customers anytime, anywhere access to combining the smartphone, online, and the physical stores.”
Mike Duke, Walmart CEO

Drone deliveries

Condos are not built for the future

At this moment, we have not been able to confirm that any builders are building with drone deliveries in mind. Ideally, new buildings should be designed to allow for drop-shipping via drones. For smaller buildings, a rooftop drop-off area would be ideal.  

Condo boards and property managers need to discuss the continued growth of online shopping. One forward thinking topic for your next condo board meeting should be how you’ll retrofit your building to have a dedicated space for drone shipping drop-offs. A small cabinet dedicated to deliveries is just not cutting it anymore.

When you have this meeting, let us know how it goes. As you can imagine, we’re more than interested in hearing your creative ideas on the subject!


1. Canada Post (2015)
2. Ipsos (2014)
3. http://www.nielsen.com