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Easing the inbound and outbound package strain on college mail centres

By Tom Hazel, Director Shipping Solutions Channel, Pitney Bowes

The last thing anyone wants to think about in the middle of summer is going back to school, but Labor Day weekend will be here before you know it. Just as students and parents will want to make sure they have classes scheduled, school supplies bought and everything packed well ahead of move-in day, colleges and universities need to take steps now to ensure they’re ready for the new school year, too.

This is especially true when it comes to managing your on-site mail centres. They might not be as glamorous as a new dorm building or sleek new offices, but the mail centre is, in many ways, the central hub of any campus. Given how it’s easier than ever for both students and faculty to make purchases and have them shipped to their college address, all at the click of a button, it’s not surprising that university and college mail centres are now seeing hundreds, if not thousands, of inbound and outbound packages come through their mail centres on a daily basis. And, the value of these packages and the liability attached to them is growing exponentially as well.

Online Shopping Drives More Packages to Schools

Students today are more educated on shipping overall. They now ship regularly themselves, want the best rates and services from the carriers and want to be able to track those shipments as they come in.

Over the next five years, online sales are estimated to climb to over $3.5 trillion. When you consider that approximately 77 percent of college students have made a purchase online within the last 30 days, it’s not hard to imagine that a significant amount of that $3.5 trillion worth of purchases being made and packages being shipped will be coming through a campus mail centre.

Unfortunately, many of these mail centres still operate on old-fashioned, if not completely manual, systems for processing both inbound and outbound parcels. Writing the package information in a manual log and putting a slip of paper in the student’s mail box to alert them that they have a package is still all too time consuming and unfortunately common.

As more packages come in or go out, this workload will become more of a strain, restricting the mail centre’s ability to quickly and efficiently process packages, and in turn delaying an outgoing parcel’s delivery or an inbound parcel’s receipt. This is a year-round problem for any school, but is particularly exacerbated during the peak shipping seasons like back to school or the winter and summer breaks.

The Cost Conundrum

At the same time, just as parents and students are becoming increasingly concerned about rising tuitions, faculty and college administrators are also just as cognizant about their own spending, and thus may be hesitant about investing school funds into improving and automating mail centre process overhauls.

But, you can’t continue getting by with the same old ways of cataloguing and processing inbound or outbound deliveries. Online shopping is only going to become more dominant, not less; students, staff and faculty are going to be relying more on their school’s mail centre for sending or receiving packages in the years to come. Sitting idly by now only ensures that you will have to deal with an overworked mail staff, a crowded and unproductive mail centre and scores of unhappy students, parents and staff wondering what’s taking their package so long.

To avoid that scenario, and ensure your facility is future-proofed for the rising tide of online-bought packages sure to pass through your mail centre’s doors, take steps now to implement new parcel processing solutions. These should expedite inbound package receipt and outbound package delivery to ensure that shipped items are getting to the right hands in a timely manner.

Just as important, these solutions need to offer cost-saving capabilities that help rein in and reduce overall shipping costs, while accounting for all carrier expenditures. These improvements alone could easily deliver enough incentive to provide a return on investment your school may require when considering upgrading mail centre technology and improving your mail centre staff’s overall efficiency.

Pitney Bowes SendSuite Parcel Management Solutions can help campuses save up to 75 percent on parcel carrier costs and accelerate internal delivery up to 50 percent. Click here to read more about how Pitney Bowes can alleviate campus parcel management concerns, from cost pressures to space limitations and short staffing.

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