How Cornell University Manages Their Flood of On Campus Packages With StarRez

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The rise in online ordering forces campus mail rooms and front desk operations to keep up with the flood of packages delivered to their residents. That’s why Cornell University in Ithaca, New York implemented the StarRez Package module in 2014 to help manage the nearly 190,000 packages received each academic year. For Cornell, creating a homey environment and providing the best service possible for residents includes having all the comforts of home shipped directly to campus. Since implementation, Cornell housing and front desk operations have seen reduced costs, simplified training for staff, and consolidated data insights and reporting on all aspects of their housing operation into one system.

With 190,000 Packages Delivered On Campus Per Year, Efficiency And Resident Service Are Key

“A few of the larger items we’re received for students include a stack-able washer and dryer, a 90” TV, a complete bedroom furniture set, and an inflatable hot tub.”

Brandi Smith-Berger, Associate Director of Conference and Event Services at Cornell University.

“StarRez has made processing our packages much easier and has also increased the speed at which residents come to claim their packages.”

Brandi Smith-Berger, Associate Director of Conference and Event Services at Cornell University.

<strong>Electronic scanning is key</strong>

Electronic scanning is key

In an age where packages far outpace traditional letters, efficiency is key, and scanning packages electronically has brought that efficiency to Cornell.  Before implementing StarRez, all packages were physically written up on a tri-page paper form.  One copy was taped to the package, one was kept at the front desk, and one was placed in the student mailbox.  Now, a package is scanned and received in seconds, which automatically triggers a notification to the student allowing for a more efficient and environmentally friendly process.

Efficiency gains have allowed Cornell to remove all mailboxes from residential spaces

Efficiency doesn’t just mean that students receive their packages promptly, it also means that perishable items are documented and prioritized.  Cornell uses StarRez to note if the package is perishable.  “By doing this, we’re able to prepare the back of the house in order to set up the front of the house for success. We identify features about the parcel, such as “P” for perishable and other easily identifiable features, to make it easier for the staff to find in the back of the house,” stated Brandi.

Starting with the fall 2019 semester, Cornell took another big step forward: removing residential mailboxes from their two largest mail centers.  All packages and letters are centrally received and students are automatically notified via email indicating  what type of mail awaits.  “Students don’t receive much flat mail these days, so we are not experiencing a significant jump in processing,” says Smith-Berger.

“Reports are also used to give monthly metrics to leadership and to stay on top of trends.”

Brandi Smith-Berger.

Each front desk is equipped with iPads and touchscreen monitors.  The iPads are used to initially gather the student information and find the package(s).  Upon receiving a package, the student electronically signs for the package via the touchscreen.  In addition to issuing packages, the iPads are used to support several other functions of the housing operation, including issuing keys.

The built-in reporting and dashboards keep the housing team updated on everything package related.  Here is a snap shot:

  • 189,819 packages were processed during Academic Year 2018-19 (August 2018-June 2019)
  • 33,250 packages were processed in August 2019 for an average of over 1,000 packages per day
  • Amazon and Amazon Pantry are the most frequently received packages followed by Walmart and Target

Reports and dashboards are used to increase staff during peak package times, audit package numbers, track down packages that were incorrectly received, and view staff usage.  “Reports are also used to give monthly metrics to leadership and to stay on top of trends,” Smith-Berger said.

Cornell plans to continue to evolve the operation with the help of StarRez.  Next year will see two service centers combined.  Additional, Cornell is planning on implementing more online student self-service, including the ability for student to check the status of their mail and packages, give electronic permission for someone to pick up their package, and update their forwarding address.

Delivering Exceptional Resident Experiences

StarRez offers the most complete, easy-to-use, and fully integrated solution for student housing operations of any size. Our comprehensive student housing solution features: