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The New Campus Mail Center: How Does Your Mail Center Stack Up?

Meeting the evolving demands of learners
University Business, June 2018

Campus mail centers have changed dramatically. Due to the rise of e-commerce, many campuses are overwhelmed with package deliveries, and campus mail centers are struggling to keep pace. This trend is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future, resulting in disgruntled students and wasted resources. Leading institutions have found solutions—innovative technology which enables campus mail centers to become efficient, flexible and responsive to this changing environment.

In this web seminar, an industry expert outlined some best practices, strategies and insights for improving your campus mail and package delivery systems, as well as the technology that can help your institution’s campus mail center overcome these challenges today, while preparing for the future. 

Speaker

Tom Hazel
North American Channel Director - Shipping Solutions
Pitney Bowes

Tom Hazel: The increase in e-commerce is challenging college mail centers. Students are ordering much more than just books online—they order food, clothing, electronics, everything. This has led to a strain on mail center resources as well as disgruntled students and parents.

Students are well-informed. They know when a package has arrived and they expect those packages quickly. This adds further challenges to strained mail centers. On top of that you have more delivery services coming onto your campus. They track everything that’s happening, so it should not be a shock when you hear a student say, “Well, where’s my package? I see it’s been delivered.” They expect the mail center to be available to deliver to them immediately.

Parents have even higher expectations. They’re looking at it from a standpoint of not only their child’s convenience, but they also have expectations regarding the cost for their children to attend college. So you have happiness concerns, stress concerns, and everything else associated with it. They also think about it from a standpoint of, “My student didn’t get this package.” Maybe it’s a medication, maybe it’s a book they require, maybe it’s just a personal item. Those things impact grades.

Your challenge with having to manage all that in a mail center environment is dramatically different than it was ten years ago, five years ago, and even three years ago. When you’re thinking about an inbound package tracking solution, it’s about understanding functionality. Was the package received? What time was it received? Was there any visible damage, and how do you account for that? How do you accurately track who sent it and if it was received?

From a location standpoint: Do you have shelves? Do you have lockers? And are you requiring proof of delivery? Are you requiring a student to sign for that package so that you close the loop? And how about faculty?

From a notification standpoint: How do you notify your student? Are you going to text them? Are you going to email them? What methods will you use to notify students or faculty that you’re going to deliver a package, versus a pick-up option?

What about history? Who needs to see the information around the chain of custody? Chain of custody is: The package comes on the loading dock, in the mail center area, it’s received, the student or faculty member is notified that it has been received, and then when it’s picked up there’s a signature. That kind of data needs to be accessible across the organization. How do you provide access to that? Do you provide it to the general population? Do you provide it to the students? Do you provide it to just the faculty?

Another consideration is around hardware. Most tracking systems have cordless wedge scanners or tethered wedge scanners. So you need to know, is Wi-Fi the right choice? Or is cellular the better choice based on your campus and how you run your Wi-Fi environment? And further with regard to use of scanners, will recipients sign on the device itself or do you have a signature pad they’ll sign?

We’ve worked with countless colleges and universities implementing tracking solutions and helping them make the right choices. As you can understand, the design of these systems is critical. I will now take a few moments to show you a solution that we have implemented at many colleges and universities.  

To see a demonstration of tracking software and how it can be implemented, you may view this seminar at universitybusiness.com/ws041218