In this blog post, we'll teach you how to properly prepare your self storage facility to be more attractive to e-commerce and retail business customers.
Demand from retail and e-commerce is the second strongest growth driver for self storage across the globe. The continuous increase of land prices does not only affect homes and apartments, but also makes warehousing more expensive. The pandemic also gave rise to what some now nicknamed the ‘side-hustle era’. Many small entrepreneurs set up shop, literally and figuratively, in self storage units to supplement household income. When we add to the equation that shoppers expect increasingly shorter delivery times (and distances), self storage comes out as an attractive, versatile, and money-saving solution for small and part-time entrepreneurs. B2B customers will have a different set of needs and requirements from your B2C customers. This deep dive provides you with practical advice to make the most of this consumer group that will only grow in the future.
E-commerce accounts for 16% of global sales. In 2021 the US e-commerce retail industry (the second largest worldwide) alone made 875 billion USD in revenue. Other big names in the sector are China, the UK, Japan, and Germany, all with an established and growing self storage industry. So what makes self storage so attractive to e-commerce businesses small and large?
- 1. Low costs of renting storage space
Shopfronts on the high street can eat away profits like nothing else. Self storage is typically located on the outskirts, where land is cheaper. The address might not be as fashionable and prestigious, but this does not matter for e-commerce businesses or those simply storing excess stock.
- 2. Flexibility to up-size and down-size
Seasonal businesses, in particular, are fond of self storage. The short notice periods, month-by-month leases, and different size options give them the flexibility to up-size and down-size as their demand waxes and wanes.
- 3. Existing infrastructure
Security options, loading bays, drive-up units, forklifts, and other amenities essential for retail and e-commerce are readily available at self storage facilities.
- 4. Tax savings
This is location-dependent, but in some countries, using self storage instead of traditional warehouses means that different taxation applies, allowing businesses to save some money there too.
In short, every offer that enables flexibility and convenience will naturally attract retail businesses or small workshops. Let’s look at them in detail.
- 1. Extended hours access
Online retail customers might require access outside of regular hours for order preparation and packing. Consider providing on-demand access (at a fee), especially if your units come with electronic or smart-lock access control.
- 2. On-site equipment
Likely, many of your units will already be equipped with smoke detectors, fire alarms, open-door alarms, CCTV, HVAC, and other safety and security measures. These are attractive to private and business customers alike. Everyone wants their possessions in safe hands. Helpful equipment for business customers would be: forklifts, packing materials, covered loading bays – for those rainy days, pallet trucks, and trolleys. The options to monetize these value-add services are limited only by your imagination.
- 3. Deliveries and letters
Consider accepting courier deliveries on behalf of your customers or offering them rental mailboxes for business letters. It will help your customer run their business smoothly and securely, ensuring their loyalty going forward.
- 4. Fulfilment options
You can go one step further and offer packing and shipping items from the customer’s unit – essentially becoming a small fulfilment centre. This is an easy transition for larger self storage companies or those with existing valet storage operations and can be an attractive income source from B2B customers.
- 5. Allowing workshop operations
Self storage is not only attractive to retail and e-commerce but also small workshops, like smartphone repairs. If legal in the area and if the units have HVAC, consider allowing your customers to set up shop in the unit and work from there.
- 6. Office spaces
If your customers keep their stock on-site, they likely need an office space in the proximity. Set up Wi-Fi, put a coffee maker in the corner, some desks, chairs, room separators, and a printer – this is a basic set-up for a co-working space your customers can rent on top of the unit.
Use Storeganise to power your self storage and valet storage the modern way. No matter the size of your facility or who your customers are – with Storeganise, you can easily manage all aspects of your business. Automate billing and invoicing, have an real-time overview of your units and facilities, and optimise operations with our integrated reports and dashboards.
Related Article: Ancillary profit centres in self storage