The Future of Self-Storage

There’s a reality television show called “Storage Wars”. The idea is simple: when people fail to pay the rent on their storage unit for three months, the storage facility has the right to sell the contents in an auction. Buyers swoop in like vultures, all hoping to score a huge profit by buying stuff with great value for as little as possible.

As I watched the show, I could not help but think about alternatives. Renters lost their stuff because they could no longer afford to pay the rent. Was it possible, I wondered, to offer much less expensive storage?

Yes, the problem with the current self-storage industry is that it’s not space-efficient. You can offer really cheap storage by not having to divide up a warehouse into units, which can contain a lot of wasted space.

In the future, it won’t be a room or locker that you rent to store your stuff. Rather, it will be containers of different sizes. Instead of rooms with locked doors, a warehouse will have shelves for the containers, thus maximizing the utilization of space.

That efficiency translates to lower rental fees, but we don’t need to stop there. To be the future of the self-storage industry, you want to take full advantage of technology.

For instance, all containers are tracked in a database. You can go online and use a web-based or phone app to manage your containers. You can see what you have at the facility, the rental charges, the billing dates, and so on.

Some of your containers have lights and remote cameras — extras for a small premium. Whenever you want to, you can see what you have stored through a browser interface.

The storage facilities can have a high degree of automation too. When you store your stuff, you push your container onto a conveyor belt, and it is moved to a robotic arm that will stack your container in an available space. Retrieving your stuff is the opposite process. You tell the system what you want, and moments later your container is brought before you.