University at Buffalo Enhances Mailroom Efficiency with StarRez & Parcel Pending Lockers

Learn how SUNY Buffalo transformed their package management operation by creating a stellar integration between StarRez & Parcel Pending lockers by Quadient.
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Key Highlights

82% Packages Processed

Around 82% of packages are processed through available package lockers, transforming mailroom efficiency.

54% Faster Pick-Up

Mailrooms with lockers benefit from a 54% faster package pick-up time than those without.

24/7 Availability

24/7 availability of package lockers improves resident convenience and satisfaction.

4 Efficient Workflows

4 new package workflows save staff time and reduce manual data entry.

University at Buffalo
Region
Northeast, USA
Industry
Higher Eduction
Beds
8,000
Active Since
2020
Product Highlights
Integrations
Quadient

The University at Buffalo stands as a prominent member within the State University of New York (SUNY) system, which includes 64 campuses. Regarded as a flagship institution of SUNY, it accommodates a diverse population of approximately 32,000 students. Of these, roughly 7,500 students choose to reside on the campus. Residents are supported by a dedicated team of approximately 225 full-time professional staff members specializing in campus living, complemented by an additional 210 student paraprofessionals.

An Increasing Volume of Packages Puts Strain on Staff Using a Homegrown Mail System

As the prevalence of online shopping continues to rise, educational institutions, like the University at Buffalo, are grappling with the substantial influx of packages received and dispatched to students annually. With approximately 7,500 on-campus residents receiving almost 100,000 packages a year, managing all those deliveries was a formidable challenge exacerbated by an outdated mail management system that lacked robust reporting capabilities.

“Our students are no longer coming to campus with all of their stuff. They're buying everything once they're here. We’re seeing more and more packages than ever before.”

- Michael Koziej, Director of Campus Mail Services at Buffalo.

The University's mail rooms, which cater to 13 residence halls and 5 apartment complexes, struggled to keep pace with the escalating volume of deliveries. The existing homegrown system, reliant on manual data transfers between software, proved inefficient. This prompted the Campus Mail Services team at Buffalo to acknowledge the shortcomings in forecasting staffing needs and resource allocation.

"I was using gum and glue trying to pull numbers out to forecast. What does my staffing look like? What do we need to do in regards to resources? We didn't have any of it.”

- Michael Koziej, Director of Campus Mail Services at Buffalo.

Parcel Pending Lockers Complete Half of the Puzzle

In search of a more effective solution, the team opted to strategically implement package lockers from Parcel Pending by Quadient in three of their nine campus mailrooms. They now process around 82% of those packages through the lockers, enhancing package management and pick-up efficiency. While the installation of the lockers immediately improved customer service and security, challenges persisted in reporting and data entry. Manual data entry remained necessary to transfer Parcel Pending locker data into StarRez.

“Prior to the interface we had 2 separate databases (Quadient & StarRez) that staff would look at when tracking the delivery of a package. This sometimes-caused confusion, especially with inexperienced staff, because the searching methodology was different between the two systems and things could easily be missed.”

- Michael Koziej, Director of Campus Mail Services at Buffalo.

To address these issues, the Buffalo team collaborated with Quadient and StarRez, envisioning a comprehensive two-way integration. This integration aimed to streamline package announcements, address book updates, package logging, and communication, fostering real-time data synchronization between the Parcel Pending lockers and StarRez.

The envisioned integration sought to not only optimize package management but also facilitate direct package loading from vendors, like Amazon, if universities choose to allow it. Additionally, leveraging StarRez's reporting module to iterate and improve the integration was part of the plan, highlighting the team's commitment to creating a seamless and efficient package management ecosystem.

During their webinar, Utilizing StarRez for Parcel Processing In-House and Through Package Lockers, Michael Koziej, Nicholas Triplet, and Nicholas Meloon from the University at Buffalo revealed how the integration was built to optimize package management from delivery to pick-up.

The 4 Essential Workflows of the StarRez and Quadient Integration

The University at Buffalo teamed up with engineers and product specialists from Quadient and StarRez to build out the integration and develop four essential workflows:

Workflow #1: The Standard Parcel Pending Locker Load

In the most common workflow, when a package is delivered, a staff member logs the information into StarRez. Then, a custom barcode label is generated, placed on the parcel, and the package is loaded into the locker.

The University at Buffalo took time to develop a detailed and efficient barcode label design. The label includes the student's name, the size of the package, a code that represents their room number, and another code that corresponds with the shelving system.

At the Parcel Pending lockers, when staff either scan the barcode or type the tracking number into the locker touch screen, the locker will evaluate the package data and automatically open the correct sized locker for each package. This saves staff time when loading hundreds of deliveries into lockers across campus.

“There's no critical thinking associated with it. The information is sent right back to StarRez so you can see it was a small package. It's been received. It's got the tracking number. It's ready for pickup. It tells us what locker it's in, the locker location, the PIN code, and even the admin user that loaded it.”

- Nicholas Triplet, Director of Campus Living IT at the University at Buffalo

Once the package is logged and loaded, the resident receives an automatic email notification with a barcode and pin number, allowing them to collect their package. Once the package has been collected, that information is sent back to StarRez, and the package status is automatically updated to “picked-up” within the system.  

Workflow #2: The Direct Load (Vendor Workflow)

This workflow allows third-party vendors, such as Amazon, to load packages directly into the Parcel Pending lockers without the help of housing staff. When combined with the STFP export tool, the integration will seamlessly sync resident address books to the lockers, allowing vendors or staff to search for the resident at the locker touch screen. Once the package is loaded, the process follows Workflow #1.

Workflow #3: Changing the Box Size

If an incorrect locker size is allocated to the package in StarRez, for staff’s convenience, it can easily be changed at the locker touch screen. For example, if a team member scans a package and a small locker opens, but the package requires a medium space, the staff member can simply close the empty small locker. The touch screen will show a summary of available locker spaces. They select 'Change Box Size,' choose the correct size, and a new locker will open. “There’s no thinking required, it's automated,” said Koziej.

When this occurs, the change is automatically reflected in StarRez, helping to efficiently maintain tracking records.

Workflow #4: Unloading Expired Packages

To address the issue of uncollected packages, a workflow was created to enable staff to unload expired packages with the click of a button. “Surprisingly enough, there are students that don't actually pick up their packages in a timely manner,” said Triplet.  

Once a certain amount of time passes, the package is automatically marked as expired. This happens after ample automatic reminder emails are sent to the student on a regular basis. As the team needs space for incoming packages, they can now easily unload expired packages from the locker. Once an expired package is removed, StarRez will automatically record the time and date it was removed and by which staff member.

Unlocking Efficiency, Insights, and Convenience Through the Integration

For universities yet to adopt package lockers, concerns about student adoption and locker capacity are common, but the team at Buffalo dispelled both reservations. They will bring a load of packages to the Parcel Pending lockers, and by the time they circle back with the second load, many of the packages from the first will already have been collected – freeing up locker space. In fact, the majority of their packages are processed and picked up within hours of delivery. They are pleasantly surprised by the swift collection rates, which Koziej attributes to the automatic email notifications sent to the students.

“After a couple of hours, the majority of those packages are processed completely out of the package lockers. The automatic email that is sent to the student immediately after a package is loaded actually helps free up new package lockers.”

- Michael Koziej, Director of Campus Mail Services at the University at Buffalo

The value is two-fold. Not only do staff benefit from increased efficiency, but students also appreciate the added convenience of 24/7 availability. In fact, the Buffalo team noticed a shift in pick-up times when comparing mailrooms with lockers to those without. The mailrooms with lockers had decent pick-up activity after hours. “Making the lockers available 24/7 [allows] them to determine when they can pick up their package(s) based on their busy academic schedules,” said Triplet.

“Dangerously” Versatile and Valuable Reporting

Previously, the team would need to search for a package within two different databases and pull statistics from two separate softwares. “I have a much easier time getting data with everything being stored in one system,” says Koziej.  "Now that all the information is in StarRez, I have been able to work with our teams to get detailed reports that are run in just a single step.”  

Amidst a rising influx of deliveries, the significance of reporting (especially to justify staffing), cannot be overstated. With real-time synchronization of data from Quadient to StarRez, the University at Buffalo seamlessly generates detailed reports, offering granular insights. “Pulling all of the information together has been awesome. And if you are a numbers geek like I am, it is actually dangerous what you can do,” says Koziej.

The Buffalo team enjoys the ability to analyze various data, including:

  • What time of the day is most popular for deliveries and pickups, which helps determine staffing needs.
  • What sized packages are the most common, which helps determine the best locker configurations for each mail room or residence hall.
  • Where a certain parcel is, and who it was delivered to.
“This has been a lifesaver for me, because you can search in a lot of different capacities.”

- Michael Koziej, Director of Campus Mail Services at the University at Buffalo

Raising an Integration for the Benefit of Buffalo and Institutions Everywhere

There were numerous lessons learned through the journey of building a brand-new integration, with a few inevitable bumps along the way. But the collaborative efforts of Quadient, StarRez, and the University at Buffalo ensured the development of a robust, foolproof, and time-saving partnership for seamless parcel and package processing. "It takes a village to raise an integration,” says Triplet.

The University of Buffalo now boasts a seamless and efficient package management solution with enhanced reporting capabilities, improved staff efficiency, and a more convenient and reliable package pickup system for its students. They are excited to roll out Parcel Pending Lockers with the StarRez integration to the six remaining mailrooms after experiencing such success from the three initial locker sites.

“We look forward to even greater efficiencies as we continue to deploy lockers to the remaining sites.”

- Nicholas Triplet, Director of Campus Living IT at the University at Buffalo

Get a custom demonstration of the integration to learn how you can streamline and modernize your package management system with StarRez and Parcel Pending by Quadient.