Amazon’s popular Prime shipping program may force U.S. colleges to rethink the way mail is delivered to student residents.
An Amazon Prime membership offers free two-day shipping of products purchased through the e-commerce giant’s website. At the start of this fall semester, the University of Connecticut’s mailroom became overwhelmed with the arrival of packages, presumably from online purchases. “About half” of the packages were from Amazon, according to university officials interviewed by The Daily Campus student newspaper.
The United States Post Office branch serving the university’s main campus kept its workers busy till the early morning hours, processing more than 3,000 packages a day.
“We received about four times as many packages as usual this fall,” UConn spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz said in an interview with The Daily Campus. “They range from small packages to very large boxes containing mini-fridges and other sizeable items.”
College students who make their home on campus have discovered they have ability to buy just about anything they need online, from textbooks to dorm-room decorations and appliances. Amazon seems to have hit the right notes with college students, who may only have access to public transportation and don’t want to spend hours shopping around for a mini-fridge and lugging it home on the bus.
And college students get a special deal from Amazon. The Amazon Student program entices them with a six-month free trial, after which they can upgrade to Amazon Prime at half price. After the six-month trial, students also get access to Amazon’s movie, TV show and music streaming service.
A follow-up Daily Campus article noted that UConn had begun implementing mailroom changes for a new era of online package deliveries. School officials noted the original residence hall mailrooms had been designed primarily for delivering letters.
“But over the years, the standard ‘letter’ has been replaced by package deliveries and we are seeing a record number of UPS, FedEx and USPS packages,” said Logan Trimble, UConn executive director of Building Services, in an interview with the newspaper.
The school plans to look into creating central mailroom sorting locations for packages, a formula that has been successful at other large universities, The Daily Campus reported.