Smart Package Rooms 101

By: Abby Quillen

packages in a courier delivery vanpackages in a courier delivery vanpackages in a courier delivery vanpackages in a courier delivery van

Online shopping is booming.

If you own or manage a multifamily community (or are a consumer yourself), you probably don’t need a study to confirm this fact. But the studies are out there. According to Shopify’s Commerce Trends 2023, one in five retail sales transactions took place online by the end of last year, and research by MRI Software found multifamily residents were on track to receive more than 10 packages per month in 2023.

All of these online purchases have led to a surge in packages delivered to multifamily communities. Many communities are also seeing an increase in grocery delivery.

So what’s the best way for communities to manage these deliveries?

Popular package management systems include traditional package rooms, smart package lockers, and off-site package management. These solutions have advantages and disadvantages and can’t always keep up with the current volume of packages. On the other hand, smart package rooms streamline package management to keep up with the busiest seasons.

What are smart package rooms?

Smart package rooms are a modern solution for efficient and secure package management. These rooms use smart technology—sensors, cameras, software—to identify, track, and manage packages.

Traditional multifamily package solutions can demand a significant amount of staff time. But smart package rooms lessen or eliminate the need for site teams to handle and manage packages. Smart technology controls access to these rooms and sends automated notifications to recipients. Couriers and residents can access the rooms to deliver and pick up packages without help.

Smart package rooms may include a combination of storage areas, such as envelope bins, customized shelving, or zones set aside for oversized packages. Many smart package rooms also include refrigerated storage for food items.

How smart package rooms work

Smart package rooms offer a straightforward process for couriers and residents. SmartRent’s package-management solution, Smart Package Room®, illustrates how a smart package room can streamline package management.

Courier delivery

  1. To access the room, the courier uses the kiosk outside the door. They may scan a radio-frequency identification (RFID) card, which sends identification data via radio waves or enter a PIN.

  2. The courier uses the same kiosk or a mobile kiosk inside the room to scan the package and register it in the system.

  3. The system uses optical character recognition (OCR), a technology that converts print into digital images, to read and display the resident’s info on the kiosk.

  4. The courier confirms the resident’s name and unit number.

  5. The courier places the package on any shelf, and the system detects and records the delivery.

  6. The system sends an automated text and email notification to the recipient. The notifications include a QR code and PIN (to access the room) as well as an image of the package and its shelf location.

Resident pickup

  1. When the resident arrives, they scan the QR code or enter the PIN at the kiosk outside the room.

  2. The kiosk shows a map and image with the shelf location of the package.

  3. The package room unlocks for the resident, and the resident enters.

  4. Audio prompts guide the resident to the correct location. At the same time, a bright light flashes across from the package location, and a red laser shines directly on the package. These features help the resident find the package quickly.

  5. The resident picks up the package, leaves, and the door looks behind them.

  6. The system detects and records the pickup.

Other popular package management systems

Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of other common package management systems can help you appreciate the benefits of a smart package room.

Traditional package rooms

Most multifamily communities use traditional package rooms to manage packages. A traditional package room is a space dedicated to package storage, usually near the office or front lobby.

These rooms typically require hands-on management from site teams. Communities can use a package-management app to automate the notification process, but more often, a site team member has to notify residents when a package arrives. In some communities, the site team also monitors packages to prevent theft. Other traditional package rooms have some form of camera surveillance.

Pros of traditional package rooms

  • These rooms provide a dedicated space for package management. They can cut package clutter in the office or other common areas.

  • Smaller communities may be able to manually manage packages in a traditional package room without investing in a costlier solution.

  • With no software or hardware costs, this solution is initially the most affordable to implement. However, site teams may need to invest considerable time in managing the process.

Cons of traditional package rooms

  • Communities must dedicate staff resources toward package management.

  • Managing packages can distract from site teams’ primary duties of assisting residents and leasing homes.

  • Even in small multifamily communities, it may be challenging for site teams to manually manage packages.

  • Holiday delivery surges can be especially stressful for site teams and residents.

  • Locating a package in a traditional package room may take several minutes, which can frustrate residents.

Smart package lockers

Many communities rely on smart package lockers for package management. These systems are often located in the front lobby, an outdoor plaza, or another common area. Like smart package rooms, smart package locker systems use smart technology to monitor and track deliveries and auto-notify recipients.

Pros of smart package lockers

  • Lockers can be a space-efficient option in communities with limited room for package management.

  • These systems offer a locked, secure storage solution.

  • Lockers offer convenient, contactless delivery and pickup for couriers and residents.

  • Many systems provide refrigerated storage spaces.

Cons of smart package lockers

  • Smart lockers can be expensive to install and maintain.

  • They may not be able to accommodate the large number of packages most communities now receive.

  • They may not be able to hold oversized packages or packages of unusual sizes and shapes.

  • When lockers fill up, it can be frustrating for couriers.

  • Site teams may need a backup system to manage overflow packages.

Off-site storage

Some communities contract with a third-party vendor to provide off-site package storage and management. With this option, the community completely outsources package management.

Here’s how one popular off-site storage option works:

  1. The resident uses the address of the vendor’s package facility as their return address. The address includes a unique apartment identifier number.

  2. The company receives the package, stores it at their off-site facility, and notifies the resident of the arrival.

  3. The resident schedules a delivery window for the same or different days.

  4. The company delivers the package to the resident’s door during that window.

Pros of off-site storage

  • It frees site teams to focus on other important responsibilities.

  • It frees community storage space for other uses.

  • Residents can have packages delivered to their doors at convenient times.

Cons of off-site storage

  • It can be a costly service, and sometimes residents must pay for it.

  • It usually means longer wait times for residents to receive packages.

  • Site teams can’t help with package-management questions, which can lead to a frustrating resident experience.


E-commerce isn’t going anywhere. Multifamily package volumes are likely to increase in the coming years. According to a Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index forecast, package volume in the U.S. will grow 3% annually through 2028. And a report by Brick Meets Click and Mercatus suggests grocery delivery could jump by 11% per year during the same period.

With more deliveries piling up every day, communities need scalable solutions to manage them. Smart package rooms stand out as the best solution to address the package challenges most multifamily communities face.

Learn more about how SmartRent’s Smart Package Room can help you create an efficient, secure, and integrated package management experience for your residents.