You love that handheld mail scanner. It fits so nicely in the palm of your hand. It’s always there. It’s familiar—even if it’s not perfect. OK, let’s be real. It’s definitely not perfect. It cuts out. It glitches. It’s not always accurate. But…it’s familiar. Wait, did we already say that?
Messy diapers are familiar. Bad boyfriends are familiar. But that doesn’t mean we have to live with them. Change is hard, but it’s a New Year (thank goodness). It’s the perfect time to make a change that will improve your life. And if your life involves mailrooms, we are urging you to leap into the now with a digital mailroom app.
We contend that the New Year’s resolution to go digital is not just a luxury. It’s a necessity. Why? Ecommerce! Ecommerce was a cool, high-tech way to order things when it first came around. But there were barriers. You had to spend $35 dollars on Amazon in order to get free shipping before Prime got big. (Remember scraping around for things like batteries and office supplies to get that last $5 to put you over the edge.) And then there was the delivery time. If you didn’t anticipate a need several days in advance, you were taking a field trip to the store. Free overnight delivery wasn’t a thing.
But then Amazon happened, and e-commerce went through the roof. And just when that was turning up the heat on mailrooms everywhere, the pandemic struck. Suddenly, everyone in lockdown was ordering things they had never considered buying online before and forming new habits in the process. And Amazon was rising to the occasion with stunningly fast delivery times. Data from Data from IBM's U.S. Retail Index showed that the pandemic accelerated the shift away from physical stores to digital shopping by roughly five years. No wonder mailrooms were overwhelmed—especially when the need for contactless delivery was creating new complications.
So, whether you are dealing with mailroom operations at an apartment complex or university or co-working space, digital mailroom solutions are more important than ever. The same goes for regular office spaces. After all, more e-commerce means more mail delivered to workplaces. That’s because people want their packages to come to where they spend most of their waking hours—not necessarily to their home porches where the elements and “porch pirates” can get to them.
Going Digital: What’s in it for You?
Making the switch to a digital mailroom will require you to do a little learning, but probably not as much as you think. Most solutions these days are very intuitive. They don’t require special equipment as they can turn your regular computerized devices (smartphones, laptops, etc.) into workhorses.
Different mailroom apps offer different things, but here’s a rundown of some common features that will make your mailroom leaner and meaner in 2021.
- Smart scanning technology. If you’re used to a clunky manual scanner, you’ll be blown away by what a digital version can do. Depending on the software, it can not only read bar codes but also use optical character recognition to read handwritten labels. And beyond that, when labels are obscured or damaged, the software can employ artificial intelligence features to generate smart suggestions to fill in missing information.
- Machine vision technology. Seeing is believing, and you can eliminate a lot of confusion and guesswork when you can capture a picture of packages and mail right when they are received. You can also capture an image of the recipient picking up the package or of the package being delivered to someone’s doorstep or work desk.
- Digital communications. You can waste a whole lot of time going back and forth with recipients to let them know that their package is in the mailroom and figure out exactly how they want to retrieve it. Many mailroom apps offer package notification systems that automatically generate these communications for you (via text, email, etc.) when you scan the incoming mail. Recipients can then communicate their intentions (forward it, deliver it, hold it for pickup), which the software will communicate to you. And you won’t have to babysit packages either. If someone forgets to pick their box up, the software will generate a reminder. If it sits in your mailroom for too long, you’ll get an email about its lifecycle. Either way, the software will do the remembering so that you can focus on other things that only you can do.
- Digital log. Once you scan the package, all pertinent information will be stored in a tidy log in the cloud. Those paper logs tracking incoming packages—you can kiss them goodbye. It’s all in the cloud. Same with the logs that people sign when they pick up their packages. You can capture a recipient’s digital signature or snap a photo of them, package in hand. Either way, the signature or image will be stored safely in the cloud so that you have a record of every package and piece of mail, from the moment they enter your mailroom to the moment they leave it.
- Data. Everything you want to know about incoming mail trends can be tracked with the right software. Is mail delivery increasing? Which departments are getting the most mail? How quickly are people picking up their mail on average? These and other important questions can help you structure your services, policies, staffing and more, and the answers to these questions can be easily retrieved with digital mail management solutions.
Sounds nice, you say, but what about your budget? Will management really go for a new expenditure during the financially tenuous times that many organizations are facing due to the pandemic? We think they will—if you can show them that it will ultimately save them money.
If you want numbers, check out our ROI calculator. Plug in some basic data, and you’ll be able to see if PackageX will pay off for your organization. You don’t have to be a large company to make it worth it. Many small mailrooms are saving significantly with our app.
And if you want to learn how PackageX is saving companies time and money in the real world, read more about how we revolutionized mailrooms for WeWork, a global leader in flexible workspace solutions. (Spoiler alert: We saved the average WeWork mailroom employee an hour a day compared to the barcode scanning system.)
Ring out the old, ring in the new… and when we say old, we’re looking at that old manual scanning device. It was great while it lasted (well, sort of), but there’s something better waiting for you in 2021.