The historic Dillard Building on Clemson’s main campus took on a new life when a cutting-edge student post office opened on the top floor Monday, August 7. The newly renovated space, which replaces the post office at the University Union, boasts 322 smart package lockers and 288 dynamic mailboxes accessible to students 24 hours a day, seven days a week (except during special events, like home football games) along with 64 indoor lockers located in McAlister Hall.
The new location serves the west side of campus and incorporates a wide range of technological efficiencies, including electronic tracking and notifications, though touchless package retrieval may be the most beneficial for students and post office staff. When a student receives an email that they have a package at the Dillard Building location, they scan their TigerOne ID or smartphone at one of three kiosks in the lobby. A locker containing their package will open automatically and a notification will alert post office staff immediately that the locker is available to place another package.
The new post office also does away with old combination and key mailboxes in favor of state-of-the-art dynamic mailboxes, located in a hallway opposite the package lockers and available 24/7. They operate exactly as package lockers but are smaller to accommodate books and letter mail.
“At the old University Union location, a locker would sit empty for hours after a student pick-up until our staff could refill it the next morning,” said John Gilbert, customer relationship manager for Print Smart. “We’re expecting this new system to increase our throughput by seven to 15 times what we could do before.”
That efficiency matters, as Gilbert estimates Clemson will soon reach one million packages processed to students since 2013, with over 10 percent package volume increases year over year—September 2022 alone saw 32,000 packages processed.
Data was an important factor in determining the location and configurations of the package lockers, which are available in various sizes. Students can pick up oversize packages (flat-screen TVs, car tires, futons, etc.) at the loading dock located on the first floor of the Dillard Building. Refrigerators will also be available to store perishable items like medicine and arrangements.
The new post office will also offer package drop-off services, packing materials and stamps for purchase.
Behind the scenes, office staff can check the real-time status of lockers on several monitors to maximize the number of packages available for student retrieval. All packages are tracked electronically for a full chain of custody. Packages will be placed behind the counter if not picked up from any locker location within 48 hours and the office will notify students to come to the new post office for retrieval.
A new chapter
The Dillard Building began as a laundry facility in the 1950s for Johnstone Hall and the Shoeboxes but has since housed office space and Print Smart’s managed document services, mail and printing operations. As space requirements have changed, so too have Clemson’s mailing needs. While letter mail used to outpace packages, the rise of online shopping has flipped the ratio in the opposite direction.
“Clemson University Mail Services is a vital function in providing students effective and efficient means to ship and receive packages and letter mail,” said Wes Harvell, operations manager for Print Smart. “As the shipping industry and trends evolve, our goal remains to implement solutions that will enhance the student experience and elevate the Clemson University brand.”
The Dillard Building post office is one of seven locations where students can pick up packages and was chosen to balance the 424 outdoor and 64 indoor package lockers on the east side of main campus. To help students locate their packages, all locker locations and the new student post office are available in the My.Clemson app. Clemson continues to be a leader in technology advancements for students and has drawn heavy interest from other peer institutions who have toured the space to learn more.
“We are so excited to now offer many different student package pickup locations that are strategically located near their residence hall,” said Gilbert. “No more 25–30-minute walks one-way to pick up your packages.”
The staff will incorporate student surveys and usage data to make additional improvements and encourage feedback.