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Clemson installs intelligent lockers in campus mailrooms

Andrew Hudson   ||   Oct 09, 2020  ||   ,

Clemson University expanded its partnership with Ricoh USA, Inc. by installing the company's Intelligent Lockers in campus mailrooms that enable students to conveniently pick up packages with contactless retrieval. The intelligent lockers are the latest collaboration between Ricoh and the Clemson mail center, and will help to reduce the number of trips students need take to the mail center.

In total, the new initiative has seen Clemson install more than 500 Intelligent Lockers across campus making package retrieval for students faster, safer and more secure. The Intelligent Locker solution makes package retrieval more efficient for students by routing parcels available for pickup to a location that's convenient for students, and in a contactless environment.

Now when a student's package arrives on campus, Clemson mail services scans and delivers it to the bank of Intelligent Lockers closest to the student's residence. This way the need for a student to visit a mail center is reduced. Once the package is in a locker, the student receives an email with a one-time release code to unlock and retrieve their package.

The solution also enables students to access the lockers using contactless options such as tapping their student ID card or scanning a QR code received in an email on their smart phone, eliminating the need to manually enter a PIN code and further limiting contact when retrieving packages.

During the initial pilot at Clemson, more than 1,400 packages were delivered and student wait time at the mail center decreased by 13% during move-in week -- the busiest time of the year. In addition, 98.5% of students who used the solution reported being extremely satisfied with their overall experience and more than 95% stated they saved time.

"Our biggest complaint has been from students who were not included in the original pilot, they also want access to the Intelligent Lockers," says Lori Brierre, Strategic Operations Director, Procurement and Business Services, Clemson University. "We're thankful to be rolling it out for more students this fall. Our students like to do things on their own time, on their own terms, and ideally in a very streamlined fashion – and now with the coronavirus pandemic – we anticipate options for contactless pickup to be a new ask. Their technology expectations are high, and once again Ricoh's perspective on ideas that drive change, like Intelligent Lockers, is helping us meet and exceed these expectations."

As Clemson welcomed students back to campus this fall, the Intelligent Lockers were another measure in place to help the university adapt a process that's both socially distant and efficient for students.

Generally speaking, package volume in the university space has only skyrocketed year-on-year, driven in large part by Gen Z's propensity for online shopping. It's a trend that has placed a sizable burden on campus mailrooms and overclocked mailroom staff.

Just as striking as the influx of package shipments, is a steady drop in letter mail volume over the last decade, leading to smaller demand for flat-mail letter boxes. As this pertains to the brick-and-mortar mail center, many college mailrooms were designed decades ago to handle a dramatically different letter-to-package balance. This trend is now leading many universities to modernize their mailroom.

"We have a deep understanding of just how better, more intelligent processes and devices can improve the student experience," says Renaud Rodrigue, Partner Executive, Client Strategy, Ricoh USA, Inc. "Sometimes it's something small, like changing the way a college digitizes admissions paperwork. And sometimes, it's a clear and striking difference, such as removing outdated, underutilized P.O. boxes and redesigning the student mail experience from the ground up. We're excited to continue to expand phase two of this program to the rest of the Clemson campus."

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