UB Survey Results: Improving Campus Mail Center Operations

Adapting to changing student needs and expectations

Campus mail centers are evolving rapidly. The continued increase in online ordering has resulted in large volumes of packages being delivered to campuses, creating a variety of challenges.

University Business recently conducted a subscriber survey about this topic with Pitney Bowes, asking higher ed leaders how their institutions are handling the increase in packages, what their greatest challenges are, and how much insight they have into their shipping costs.

This web seminar addressed the survey results and ways campus mail operations can improve efficiency and flexibility, reduce costs, and meet changing student expectations.


Kurt Eisele-Dyrli
Research Editor
University Business

Jason DeStratis
Product Manager
Pitney Bowes

Kurt Eisele-Dyrli: First off, our subscriber survey had a pretty high-level question: “Overall, has there been an increase in the volume of packages received by students, faculty and staff on your campus compared with just three to five years ago?” Our top answer was “yes,” with 43% saying that. Another 27% said there’s been some increase. But just 23% said the volume has remained the same. Jason, this probably doesn’t come as a big surprise to you.

Jason DeStratis: Absolutely not. Two-thirds of the respondents are saying there’s an increase. That’s what I’m hearing when I’m out in the university space. And with online shopping, I don’t see that pattern changing. It’s going to continue to grow.

Kurt Eisele-Dyrli: When respondents said “yes,” we asked: “Would you say this creates significant problems for your institution?” Almost 15% said this has created significant problems, with almost 60% saying “somewhat.”

Jason DeStratis: If you have a modern facility, you may have the space to deal with the volume coming in. But for a lot of universities and colleges, their receiving facilities have been around for a long time. Small, cramped space is an issue when it comes to package volume, and processing in a tight space can also be challenging.

Kurt Eisele-Dyrli: We asked about their significant problems. It was a tie for the top answer: a lack of storage space and the logistics of delivery and/or pickup. Both were 77%. Almost half said “not picking up packages in a timely manner” was a problem.

Jason DeStratis: If recipients are not picking up packages in a timely manner and not present to receive packages, there are struggles. You’re holding on to packages longer and having to maintain custody of those packages longer. There is a cost associated with that. Having an inventory of packages that haven’t been picked up is a waste of space.

Kurt Eisele-Dyrli: The next question we asked was about where and how packages are delivered. The top answer by a huge margin was one central mailroom for all students.

Jason DeStratis: Monday can be the worst day for a lot of universities. The lines are long for students to pick up their packages. That is not only a stress on the operations, but also something the students aren’t thrilled about. As universities are looking to promote themselves in a competitive market, one thing they don’t want the prospects touring campus to see is a huge line just to pick up whatever was ordered from Amazon.

Every university and every college has a different starting point and has a long history of how they got to today. The most important thing to understand is the current state of circumstances at the college or university. What can we do to make an impact on those circumstances? How do you get control of the information around all the packages and mail being moved through your system?

Kurt Eisele-Dyrli: We asked our survey respondents to describe how much insight their higher ed institution has into the total costs of shipping, receiving and postage for all departments. More than 30% described it as “extensive and detailed” but that there is a lot more uncertainty. The leading answer, “some,” was selected by almost 45%. Another 15% said, “very little.”

Jason DeStratis: I think this is right. Once again, some universities and colleges have been able to make the decision to bring everything under control. That doesn’t mean they have solved all of their issues, but bringing everything under control has been an initiative. I think that for a lot of folks, it’s: “We’ve been doing it this way for a long time, and until recently, there wasn’t all that much pain behind it.” Now, that pain might be starting to grow, and that’s why we’re here talking about this.

To watch this web seminar in its entirety, please visit UBmag.me/ws031120

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