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Self-Storage Supplier in the Spotlight: Supply Side USA and its Approach to Retail-Product Sales


Most storage operators want to be the best at what they do. Often they hire the best in the industry to develop their business plan. It’s interesting, however, that many fail to apply this approach to the sale of retail merchandise at their facilities.

With the right strategy and location, retail sales can comprise 3 percent to 5 percent of a facility’s revenue. But how do you get there? To truly maximize retail your return on investment, consider consulting with a retail expert.

Supply Side USA has developed retail-merchandising programs for the self-storage industry for more than a decade. On average, its clients show improvement from 20 percent to 50 percent and more over their current retail plan. These results are consistently accomplished because the company takes a different approach to managing the retail business for and with its customers―it focuses on a multi-tiered strategy to get the job done.

Managing Inventory

Supply Side USA focuses on many strategic retailing elements for every customer it serves. It’s extremely important to make certain all the components of retailing are addressed for maximization to be achieved. Offering merchandise alone is only one part of the equation. For example, it’s equally important to manage inventory levels so products turn over more quickly.

Overstocking is a real concern in self-storage. Many distributors know customers will buy more if they can save a little, and they exploit that. Saving a dime on a lock when you must purchase 100, or saving 20 cents when purchasing 500 may seem like a good idea, but you may be tying up cash for a year just to cash in on the savings. When that same buying strategy transfers over to mattress covers, tape, bubble wrap or other items that take much longer to sell, this purchasing and display strategy is counterproductive.

Supply Side USA specifically designed its product case packs to be smaller so operators don’t have to purchase more than they need. These are the kind of details the company is always thinking about.

Retailing in the self-storage industry is a convenience for your customers. This bulk-purchase discount approach to retailing isn’t the best way to maximize retail ROI. Research tells us the main reason most storage owners spend so much time and energy buying something for 5 percent to 10 percent less is so they can sell it cheaper than their competition. Assuming a typical retail markup is 100 percent and you buy an item for a quarter less, by adjusting your retail price to beat competitors, you actually hurt yourself in gross profit dollars. Instead, don’t worry about the quarter; improve the retail environment and sell 30 percent more of that same item and others.

The Supply Side USA website ordering platform is designed to control inventory. The company gives you a customizable order-approval system that limits the product assortment managers can choose, and processes orders with management approvals before orders are submitted for fulfillment. This has been a tremendous tool for companies large enough to have district managers and for those with one or several facility operators who may have administrators overseeing the ordering process. The system is designed to notify the approver via e-mail that orders are awaiting approval and they can act at their earliest convenience.

A Retail Partner

From the marketing approach to inventory management, Supply Side USA dissects every aspect of the current retail environment and recommends the necessary adjustments to maximize retail revenue. Additionally, the company is known for its creative merchandising techniques to optimize the presentation of products. It will organize your display to offer a variety of price points without overstocking your store and use location-specific product assortments to capture the opportunities of local demand. With this strategy, the company improves the odds that each customer will find something to purchase, which increases impulse sales.

The final piece of the maximization puzzle is sales training and product-education support. This is vital to the retail maximization effort. In 2001, Supply Side USA was the first retail distributor in the self-storage industry to introduce a retail-sales training and product-education program for storage operators and managers. Its needs-based sales training helps managers develop the skills necessary to uncover customer needs for supplies. A well-trained and well-informed storage professional will separate himself from the competition and gain confidence with every customer he assists.

Developing the best possible retail plan with clients’ commitment and oversight will continue to be Supply Side USA’s main focus. The company always begins its conversations with potential clients by determining ways to help sell more products. It constantly seeks ways to impact your business with a positive constructive approach to building a mutually beneficial and profitable business relationship.

Mark Petro is the national account manager for Supply Side USA, a supplier and marketer of retail merchandising for the self-storage industry. For more than 20 years, he has been engaged in sales and service of retail merchandising programs across several industries. For more information, call 800.305.6110; visit

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