Founder and CEO of SmartRent, an enterprise home automation and internet of things platform for the multifamily industry.

Amazon has changed our expectations as consumers. While it was once necessary to visit a number of stores to buy clothes, books and household products, it can now all be delivered through one e-commerce platform, often within just one day. In fact, Amazon delivers about 2.5 billion packages per year in the U.S.

Now, consumers have the expectation that anything can be provided at rapid speed, not only from Amazon but from other on-demand services such as DoorDash, Rover and Drizly. Plus, these expectations have moved beyond the delivery of goods to services: dog walking, cleaning and even “concierge” providers access homes routinely. While many of these on-demand services are available at our fingertips, it doesn’t necessarily mean there is a seamless integration of these goods and services entering our lives. To work best, on-demand companies require more access.

The Delivery Challenge

Last year, I was invited to visit a brand new, high-end multifamily property to check out the building’s package room. It was state-of-the-art, with temperature control and even biometric scan capabilities for package and pick-up security. I was impressed. But then the property manager explained that the room holds 400 packages, yet they receive triple that number per day. So, the first 400 packages go in the package room, and the next 800 line the hallway. This situation not only creates a hassle for those who have to navigate spaces overfilled with packages, but it also poses a security concern: Any one of the packages in the hall could be stolen.

When you think about delivery in those terms, the multifamily residence industry isn’t solving the delivery challenge, but putting an expensive bandage on it. 

In fact, Covid-19 has worsened the problem and made the need for a solution all the more urgent. While many individuals are currently receiving more deliveries than ever to avoid going to the store (U.S. grocery purchases made online have increased by as much as five times during the outbreak), they have also been homebound and able to accept the packages more immediately. It’s likely that the rate of deliveries even after the pandemic has passed will rise as consumers grow accustomed to the convenience. However, this will only worsen property owners’ and managers’ challenges with providing delivery access and accommodating high numbers of packages. The only true solution is putting packages directly into people’s homes.

Beyond delivery, the service economy also benefits from smart home technology. For example, many dog owners leave their apartment doors unlocked to provide access to dog walkers, and these kinds of practices can lead to robberies and other safety concerns.

Multifamily operators can leverage smart access technology to help residents feel safer and more secure, but implementing technology always comes with considerations. Before incorporating this technology, property owners and operators should consider the following.

Implementing Access Solutions

In order to determine which access functionality your property should start with, begin by examining your budget and what features are most important to you. For example, does your property have a number of amenities, such as a gym, pool, lounge, etc. that residents, guests and prospective tenants frequently need access to? What qualitative or quantitative research can you glean insights from? For example, how many packages do your residents receive? This might be a good opportunity to engage with residents via a survey to assess how their needs are changing and what access solutions would be most beneficial.

Building Consensus

Before making any changes, it’s important to have residents on board. Presenting an access solution to residents is important, as is capturing their concerns and feelings about it. For example, try hosting a demo and Q&A with someone who can teach residents all about what is to come and how access solutions work. Specifically, discuss the safety features it will enable, such as a package being delivered in-unit without compromising the security of that unit. Following implementation, sending frequent resident emails answering any questions and providing more information through FAQs are key.

It’s essential to evaluate the extra costs of smart home technology and how those costs will be offset by potential increased revenue. For example, while access solutions are an expense to consider, they can also decrease operational costs by streamlining the move-in and move-out processes, and features such as self-guided tours help secure new tenants more quickly.

The changing economy means smart access technology in multifamily units is more useful than ever. When navigated successfully, giving residents the ability to grant access for delivery or services can lead to less complication, better safety and security and a more seamless delivery process.

Forbes Real Estate Council is an invitation-only community for executives in the real estate industry. Do I qualify?