The changing face of retail means that retailers don’t need as large a footprint as before. As more and more business shifts online, delivery is often cheaper than prime real estate. 

But secure delivery is still one of the friction points that is affecting the adoption of e-commerce in a lot of cases. The reports of stolen amazon packages from door-steps has caused some customers to avoid ordering items online.

The solution? The Amazon locker. This is a locker bank like you might find at a train station for storing your luggage. But the boxes are generally much smaller. There are some boxes in the bank of lockers for large parcels, and a whole bunch of boxes for small parcels. 

This past week, I saw a bank of these lockers in every major train station in Paris. These train stations are also major subway stops. So those who are on their way home can stop and pick up a package on their way home with complete confidence that their package has been securely delivered with no risk of theft, or problems with getting past building security. 

Success in business is all about removing friction. My 94 year old aunt orders her groceries over the internet and they come delivered to her home. 

This past week in Paris I used many of the hundreds of electric bikes and scooters that litter the city and can be picked up for 1 Euro plus 15 cents per minute. They travel 20 km per hour and you can use the bike lanes, and the bus lanes, even on a one way street. I was able to make multiple stops on my trips, something that would have been more difficult in a taxi or on the subway. In total, I spent less than a taxi and I had the flexibility of going where I wanted, when I wanted, without the investment or responsibility of owning a bike or scooter. It’s all about removing friction.  

So these lockers solve a problem. They remove friction. They make receiving a parcel from Amazon easier than ever before. Amazon has even started putting lockers in Whole Foods stores which it now owns. 

So why does this matter to a real estate audience?

If you live in NYC, chances are that the door-man in your building will accept an Amazon order for you and keep it secure until you get home. But that’s a feature that’s unique to luxury buildings in major cities like NY. If you live in most other cities, the parcel will be left on your doorstep or in the lobby of your building. Hundreds or thousands of people could pass in front of your package before you lay hands on it. The problem is so common that there is a new term for it. If you are a victim of a stolen package, then a porch pirate was to blame. That’s right a porch pirate. 

As more and more commerce shifts to online, the problem of package theft has been growing. 

Business is all about solving problems. So the question is, could you as a real estate investor, solve a problem for your tenants, or perhaps solve a problem for Amazon?

What if you own a multi-family apartment complex. Could you add a secure package drop off so that your tenants would be confident their parcels don’t go missing? If you have property across from a major public transit stop, would it make sense to rent a few square feet of space to Amazon so they can install a bank of lockers? If you own a drug store that also has a post office kiosk, would it make sense to rent a few square feet to Amazon?

The purpose of today’s episode is to get you thinking, to get you to see opportunities that were not obvious before today. What if you have a store front in a strip mall that gets a lot of traffic, but for whatever reason that store front just isn’t renting.