Need Self Storage? There’s an App for That
In the age of smartphones and tablets, when the entire world seems as if it can be tucked away in your pocket, the traditional self storage business model might seem a little dated. Wait, I actually have to drive to a storage facility? Recently, however, we’ve seen a number of businesses approaching storage from a different angle. By taking control of all the steps of the storage process, from transport to the facility to retrieval from the facility, businesses such as Boxbee have presented a streamlined service that’s perfect for the hectic, urban lifestyle of America’s major cities.
Storage-by-the-BinIt’s been called storage-by-the-bin to reflect the pricing model of most of the new companies. You order a number of bins, priced by their size, fill them at your leisure, and then watch as the storage company picks them up and takes them to their facility for you. When you need a box back, you simply pick up your phone, get on their app, and request it. Before you know it, the bin is back at your doorstep. These types of businesses have popped up in several major U.S. cities, as well as some abroad. Here’s a brief rundown of the most notable storage-by-the-bin startups:
- Boxbee in San Francisco and New York
- MakeSpace in New York
- Storrage in Seattle
- Clutter in Los Angeles
- WeStore in London
ProsStorage-by-the-bin bypasses a number of hindrances that might stop some people from using traditional storage, such as transportation or the large size of many storage units. Even in urban areas where storage facilities often occupy ordinary buildings that are easily accessed, the time and effort of moving in can be prohibitive. Here are the three primary benefits that many city dwellers can find in these new storage apps.
- You can store smaller amounts. What’s the smallest unit size at most storage facilities? You’d be hard-pressed to find a unit smaller than 5’x5’, and many don’t go below 5’x10’. What if you only need a couple of boxes’ worth of stuff in storage? Enter storage-by-the-bin. By paying for the box instead of the entire storage space, you can store smaller amounts without wasting money on space you don’t even need.
- You don’t need any transportation. This can be a big hindrance to traditional self storage. Many residents of major cities can rely on public transportation to get around. Many have all the things they need within walking distance. Without a car, you have to rely either on friends or a rental truck to get your belongings into storage. If a company is willing to come pick up your belongings for you, that could save you a lot of headache!
- You can let other people borrow your things. Boxbee in particular is pushing this idea. When you store with them, you can let friends and family request boxes and items. Boxbee will then send them the requested items so that your stuff is actually being used and not just wasting away. It’s like cloud storage, but for physical objects.
ConsIt’s not all perfect, though. For many people, especially those without the restraints that might push one toward storage-by-the-bin, traditional self storage is simply easier.
- It can get expensive. So you can store just a couple bins if you want, but what if you really do need a 10’x20’ unit? That’s a lot of boxes! By paying a flat monthly rate for each box you use, you might end up paying quite a bit more than if you were to use traditional storage.
- You can’t get things immediately. Since the storage-by-the-bin company must deliver your items back to you, you won’t be able to get the things you want immediately. Many conventional storage facilities offer 24-hour access, which allows you to stop by and grab your belongings whenever you want.
- You might not trust the security. When your storage company also takes care of transport and retrieval, it can create a rather long chain of possession for your belongings. A benefit of traditional storage is that you know nobody besides yourself has access to your belongings at any time.