In the world of logistics, the college and university segment is unique and ever-changing. Mailroom staff often handle packages and mail for the entire student body as well as each office and department on campus. Several factors contribute to the changing nature of these environments, chief among them is the fact that their clientele changes semester to semester, and mail capacity must change to accommodate wide variations in student population. Yet, this ever-evolving nature creates an atmosphere ripe for innovation. Mail and Receiving managers within universities welcome creative and forward-thinking solutions to their logistical problems. Which features are the most valuable for each campus? Let’s examine the top three use cases for higher learning facilities.

Virtual Mailboxes
Virtual mailboxes are a great way to save money and space on university campuses. The rise of technology has led to fewer letters and more packages as college students, and their families, take advantage of services, such as Amazon, to deliver essential items. Many campus mail centers have multiple rows of assigned mailboxes that are under-used or overflowing because the students never pick-up their mail. Rather than assigning each box to an individual user for the semester (and having to reassign boxes quickly for the next semester), repurpose that space to house several barcoded file folders, each one representing an individual mailbox. As mail center staff receive mail for students, the staff member places the letter into the assigned folder and scans the user-specific barcode to notify the student via email/text message that they have mail/packages to pick-up. This measure not only saves physical space in your mail center but is a great way to keep mail from piling up.

Smart Lockers
No logistics feature has become more ubiquitous on college campuses, as well as cities all over the world, quite like smart lockers. Taking virtual mailboxes one step further, the use of intelligent lockers can give your students the ability to pick-up their packages without having to keep your mailroom open. The locker system is simple: mail center staff receive, sort, and reserve lockers for incoming packages. They place a student’s package in the reserved locker, triggering an email notification to the student. The student heads to the designated locker bank to pick-up their package. Any university that integrates its campus logistics system with intelligent lockers allows their mailroom manager to eliminate their package pick-up line while continuing to maintain complete accountability of the package lifecycle — a win for students and mail center staff.

Package Tracking
Of the many incredible tools highlighted above, package tracking stands alone as the most essential. A package tracking workflow allows universities to use campus logistics software to streamline incoming packages, dispatch couriers, confirm the chain-of-custody, and measure productivity. Take it a step further by having your Central Receiving department integrate P.O. Line Item Receiving (POLIR) functionality with their financial application (ERP system). POLIR ties together the purchase order, tracking number, and paid voucher for all-encompassing purchase visibility and accountability.

Are you a mail or receiving manager for college or university? If so, which logistics features are the most important to you? Let us know in the comments section below or by visiting the contact page.