The University of Northampton is a vibrant site of higher education, providing under- and post-graduate courses to 14,000 students and employing 2,000 members of staff. It is one of the few universities to be ranked Gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) for delivering “consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students.” In 2018, the university relocated to a brand-new campus, designed to meet the modern-day needs of teaching and learning, and took the opportunity to upgrade its solution for the efficient and secure delivery of students’ parcels and packages.

The University of Northampton is a vibrant site of higher education, providing under- and post-graduate courses to 14,000 students and employing 2,000 members of staff. It is one of the few universities to be ranked Gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) for delivering “consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students.” In 2018, the university relocated to a brand-new campus, designed to meet the modern-day needs of teaching and learning, and took the opportunity to upgrade its solution for the efficient and secure delivery of students’ parcels and packages. 

The challenge 

The university has four halls of residence, home to 2,500-3,000 students, who between them generate a steady stream of incoming parcel deliveries. The smallest of the sites receives around 100 parcel deliveries a month, while the largest can see up to 550 deliveries a month. “At the old university campus, there was an on-site post room, accessible by staff and students,” explains Michelle Chodyniecki, the university’s Head of Facilities Services. “With the relocation, the post room is now at a remote location – it’s a back-office function that no-one can access.” Under the old system, staff would leave a note in students’ letter lockers to advise them they had a parcel to collect but collections could be inconvenient because they were restricted by opening hours. 
“We realised that students want to collect their items 24/7,” says Michelle. “And there were other issues with collecting from the post room too, including not being able to collect without ID. Queues would form at peak times, such as lunchtime and at the end of the day; parcels often built up in the post room and staff would have to spend time prompting students to collect. Also, we had limited traceability.” 

The process 

Michelle worked with a consultant to investigate parcel lockers and found that Neopost’s Packcity provided the best solution. It was decided to install 144 lockers – 36 of three sizes at each location.   “We decided to create ‘post hubs’ using the Packcity lockers at each of the halls of residence,” says Michelle. “Deliveries are made twice a day to the lockers and students have the freedom to collect them when they choose.” Michelle was particularly keen on the better student experience that would result from being able to collect parcels when it suited them, and the improved traceability staff would gain: “Before, notifying students was a paper-based system. When we delivered the letter post, we’d include tickets advising students they had a parcel at the post room and to please come and collect it. With Packcity, it’s a better electronic, automated system.”

The solution 

Packcity is an electronic locker system that securely stores parcels. Recipients are sent an email informing them they have a parcel; when they collect, they enter the code or scan the barcode in their notification email to open the locker. The system supports 24/7 collection for the convenience of parcel recipients, and pick-up tracking for staff. “It’s more traceable,” says Michelle. “It date- and time-stamps everything. We know exactly where the parcel is and when it’s been collected. It takes away multiple delivery attempts too - if we had to deliver to students’ rooms it would rely on them being there; with Packcity, it’s one drop-off and we know students collect, as they receive a notification and it’s all automated.” 

Delivery and results 

Packcity has met the university’s objectives for the system. Students can now collect their parcel at times that suit them, items are stored securely, staff have traceability of deliveries and automatic notifications make the process run smoothly.  

“We’ve had really good feedback from students,” adds Michelle. “And we’ve had really positive feedback from staff - in fact, to the point where they’re asking for more lockers and for larger lockers to give us even more flexibility. It’s definitely been successful.”