Smaller internet retailers are the reaping the benefits of using self-storage rooms for their online businesses. Fuelled by the public’s ever-increasing appetite for shopping online, unsurprising, the UK self-storage industry is experiencing a growing demand from such enterprises for its facilities.
The Self-Storage Association UK Annual Survey for 2013 compiled by Deloitte Real Estate reveals that business customers increased their share of occupied space to 42% last year compared with 39% in 2012. While this figure broadly covers commercial use and cannot be attributed exclusively to online businesses, it would be safe to say this is a pattern that looks likely to continue.
After all, using self-storage units makes good commercial sense, especially for small or home-based businesses that need to carry stock. There is only so much you can store in a garage or that spare bedroom! For many small businesses, it simply isn’t viable to rent or invest in commercial property.
Even if space isn’t a problem for storage at home or in a small office, the issue of security may well be! That’s not the threat of theft. Fire, flooding and other disasters can strike and the chances are, household insurance won’t cover your stock.
Normal commercial buildings are also liable to council tax or business rates, and this is another key reason why small businesses in particular find self-storage so much more viable because the provider has liability for this. The only tax you pay when renting self-storage space is VAT and of course if your business is VAT registered, this has little effect.
That is why using a self-storage facility is proving a cost-effective solution for many small e-commerce businesses. A reputable self-storage company will offer fully secure, fully protected storage rooms in a variety of sizes so you can select the space that suits your requirements. Many are quite versatile so you can upsize or downsize easily and very often with short notice which means that you are not paying for space that you do not require. The same applies to seasonal stock. Many retailers have more stock at Christmas and therefore need more space. So this flexibility is useful.
The use of trolleys and pallet trucks for loading and unloading are usually included in self-storage costs but it’s always worth checking! Racking and shelving can also be provided as ‘an extra’ which can be very handy and a more cost-effective alternative to buying equipment.
When sourcing self-storage for the first time, do your homework and ask for some references. There are the good, the bad and the downright ugly! Look out for those that have BS EN 15696 self-storage accreditation. The Self-Storage Association is a useful resource for a list of members in your area and you can type in a post code such as ‘CV33’ in the self-storage facility finder to locate a service in your region.
Facilities should have around the clock security with CCTV and fire/intruder alarms. Ideally the site should be barrier controlled for additional security. Each room should have its own lock, alarm system and be humidity controlled to protect your goods. Having your own secure access is important and having reassurance that you are the only key holder to your room is recommended.
Location is also important so obviously finding self-storage in close proximity to your business is sensible. Many facilities are on the outskirts of towns or cities, and have their own free parking – another ‘feather in the cap’ for self-storage services!
The higher quality self-store providers very often offer a range of optional services to help your business run more smoothly, such as taking delivery of goods on your behalf at a dedicated front of house reception, offering the option of additional liability cover, van rental and so on.
It is estimated that there are some 830 self-storage facilities in the UK providing 30.1million square feet of storage space so it would be fair to say, there are some excellent opportunities for businesses whether e-commerce or not, to utilize such a service.
If you have, or are thinking of starting a small business, then self-storage could well be the solution for providing five star accommodation for your stock!