Two decades or so ago, having a new coffeemaker, a pair of running shoes and a bag of groceries delivered to your door was a novelty. Today, online shopping has exploded in popularity. As Americans order more and more of everything through an app or a website, the packages are beginning to pile up.
If your front porch overflows with boxes and mailing envelopes on a daily basis, you may want to look at ways to reduce the clutter outside and inside your home, as well as how to keep your packages safe from weather damage and thieves. Unsurprisingly, numerous companies are capitalizing on the online ordering explosion and are creating clever solutions to manage all that mail.
Peace of Mind Delivery Solutions
Unfortunately, one side effect of the abundance of residential deliveries is the rise in “porch pirates” who grab your parcels before you have a chance to. More than one-third (36%) of Americans reported having a package stolen at least once and 56% know someone who had a package stolen, according to a 2019 study by C+R Research. Both low-tech and high-tech options can help you protect your deliveries.
Here are a few tech solutions:
- Amazon Key. The Amazon Key system works with an app that allows a delivery person to place a package in your garage or inside a locked gate. The system also allows for deliveries in your home or car trunk, but that has temporarily been discontinued during the coronavirus pandemic. The service ranges from $36 to $96 for Amazon Prime members.
- Danby Parcel Guard. The Danby Parcel Guard, which looks like a FedEx or UPS drop box, costs from $229 to $400. Packages placed inside the box drop down to a locked section. Alerts and alarms are controlled by an app.
- BoxLock. This parcel delivery box, which is controlled by an app, costs $125 for the lock only, which can be placed on a trunk. The lock and a box vary in price – $240 to $360 – depending on size.
- Delivery Safe. This large receptacle can be placed on your property and linked by an app with delivery services to track packages and generate a code to open and lock the box. This system costs $499 or $550 with the addition of ice packs for grocery deliveries.
- Loxx Boxx. The Loxx Boxx system, priced between $179 to $249 depending on the box you choose, uses an app to provide a unique access code to each delivery person to open the box, which then automatically locks.
- Security cameras. While a doorbell or motion camera won’t always stop a thief, it does give you proof if you need to report a crime. Once the camera snaps a photo of the burglar, you can alert others in your neighborhood of someone targeting the area. In some cases, the presence of a camera can be a deterrent to a criminal.
If you’d rather not invest in one of these options or don’t have the space for a large parcel holder on your property, you can also try simpler alternative to protect your orders.
Taking Control of Your Deliveries
Whether your packages are delivered primarily by Amazon, FedEx, UPS or the U.S. Postal Service, each company offers tracking and delivery options via email or text messages. If you are at home or nearby, you can quickly place your package indoors to protect it from weather issues or porch pirates.
Other possibilities include having your Amazon package delivered – at no cost – to an Amazon Hub Locker. The lockers are typically located in stores throughout neighborhoods, which can be convenient if you’re already out running errands.
Postal service deliveries can be held for pick up at the post office, which is ideal if you’ll be away for a few days. FedEx packages can be held at a FedEx office or delivered to another location such as your office or a neighbor’s house. UPS packages can be delivered to a designated retail store, a UPS store or another address.
You may want to get together with neighbors to watch for each other’s package deliveries, particularly if one person is nearly always home and more likely to see a delivery as it happens. If you exchange phone numbers, you can easily text each other to let someone know you picked up a package for them.
Another option, depending on the size of the package, is to have it shipped to your office. Just be sure you can easily bring the package home with you.
Condo Solutions to Delivery Overload
Newly built condos often have a package system in place to manage the overload of deliveries for residents. In some buildings, a designated package room is handled by a concierge or front-desk staff. Others have automated systems in place with lockers that can be accessed by an app. Some buildings have temperature-controlled storage space to allow groceries to be placed in a refrigerator or freezer until you can claim them.
The level of service to manage packages depends in part on the size of the building and the amenities of the condo. Luxury level buildings with hundreds of residents are more likely to have an elaborate high-tech system than a smaller one. If your building doesn’t have a workable system now, it may be something to discuss at the next condo association meeting; residents can debate and decide whether to invest in something such as Package Concierge, an automated system of package lockers.
Decluttering While Unpacking
Of course, managing packages doesn’t end as soon as you drop them inside your home. From there, it’s time to unpack the parcels and begin to store the items and the packaging. It’s smart to open your packages in your garage, mudroom or kitchen so you can immediately break down boxes and place them in your recycling bin. The plastic bags, bubble wrap and packing peanuts may be recyclable in your area, but they often must be delivered to a grocery store or recycling center rather than placed in a bin for curbside pickup.
If you don’t have time to open your boxes at once, you may want to create a special temporary storage spot so they’re not cluttering your entryway. Special package storage can also be useful for items you order but don’t need right away. In that case, they can be kept in the delivery box. Options for package storage include:
- Garage. Install modular storage racks, open shelves, storage bins or an overhead rack attached to the ceiling for boxes.
- Mudroom. If you have a bench in your storage room, clear some space underneath where you can tuck boxes out of sight. Or add a storage bench with a lid or hidden storage underneath for packages. Inexpensive shelves and cubbies can also be used for packages.
- Pantry. If you have a spacious pantry closet, you can place boxes there. This especially makes sense if the items are meant for your kitchen.
- Linen closet. If you’ve ordered extra items for your household or gifts for future occasions, try to create a shelf in your closet for storage.
Developing a system for managing your packages shouldn’t take a lot of time but the result can add an extra layer of safety and security for your deliveries.
Michele Lerner is an award-winning freelance writer, editor and author who has been writing about real estate, personal finance and business topics for more than two decades.