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The e-Commerce Effect on Campus Mailrooms

This is especially true for colleges and universities, where the exponential increase in packages has most mailrooms struggling keeping up, leading to a grumbling student population.

Then there’s the burden of notification and pick up procedures. Most university mail centers still practice manually putting in a written notification of a package arrival in a student’s mailbox. That’s just not efficient considering the amount of online shopping students do these days.

Ask a student, and they’ll tell you that they prefer picking up an online order or a care package from mom at a time that is convenient for them. Most times this is not during a mail center’s operating hours. For those who do show up during regular business hours, they run the risk of having to stand in line, waiting to get their package.

Searching for an Automated Solution

That’s exactly where Pennsylvania-based Bloomsburg University found itself. The university, which has more than 9,300 undergraduate students and close to 1,000 faculty and staff, needed a solution. So, they decided to simplify its student package-handling and pickup process. It also aimed to improve the total student mail experience as part of the new mailroom.

“Our students would receive an email to come and pick up their package from the campus mailroom during regular business hours,” said Jeff Mandel, Director of Procurement and Operations for Bloomsburg University. “They would line up at a counter and wait until someone on our staff was able to retrieve their package for them. This was just not convenient for our students.”

The university, which at times receives more than 600 packages a day, decided to install an intelligent campus locker system. After a comprehensive review and technical evaluation, the university decided to install three uniquely-configured banks of automated pickup solutions to handle their needs. Each locker bank is named after one of the school’s core values – “Excellence,” “Integrity” and “Opportunity” – with a full-scale themed image on the front of the banks.

“We were looking for an open-ended solution, in terms of the number of lockers, and the technology needed to work the lockers and communicate with the students,” Mandel said. “Our technical committee reached a consensus that Bell and Howell’s solution was the most cost-effective and perfect for our needs.”

Intelligent Campus Locker Systems

The pickup lockers focuses on the user-end experience of package delivery. With a modular design and unique drawer slots, it is ideal for campus environments.

With intelligent campus lockers, a mail center worker simply scans an incoming package and the systems assigns it to a specific locker, based on size. The employee then takes the package to the automated terminal and scans it at the kiosk. The assigned locker automatically opens and the employee places the package inside. After placing the package in the assigned slot, the employee simply shuts the drawer.

The system immediately sends the student a message with a unique code that their package is ready for pick up. The student simply walks up to the smart locker when convenient. They then scan their phone or type in the code, and voila! A slot opens with their package inside it.

Once the door is closed, the system updates the mail center’s database that the package has been retrieved. It then sends a confirmation to the student.

Bloomsburg University has streamlined the entire mail operation with the help of smart lockers. “I think the biggest benefit we have realized is not so much the cost savings, but an improvement to the student experience,” Mandel said. “Students are able to retrieve their package when it’s convenient for them. And the reaction to the smart locker has been overwhelming.”


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