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Self-Storage, Technology and Around the Clock Convenience

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By Natalie Andrews  

With websites open 24/7 and everything just a few clicks away, convenience and immediacy are the new consumer buzzwords. Store opening hours and waiting in line are a thing of the past, and customers can—and do—order absolutely anything right from their laptops or smartphones, from cabs to take-out food. Businesses in every sector, including the self-storage industry, are using technology to respond to the increasing demand from their customers to have products and services when they want them.

Veteran operators and those just entering the storage industry are capitalizing on this shift in consumer demand and finding ways to leverage technology to make self-storage more convenient. The traditional self-storage model is heavy on human contact, with new tenants arranging and completing the storage process in person and within office hours. However, now we’re seeing an influx of on-demand services moving away from this model and into the digital world. Once such service is valet storage. Making convenience a top priority, these fully online services let customers control every aspect of the storage process from one screen. Customers are able to arrange a delivery of boxes, a pickup of their belongings, and a drop-off of their storage treasures, all without having to put down their smartphones.

This move to time-saving technology opens up storage to new customer segments by putting the service right where the consumer needs them: online, on their doorstep, around the clock. For students without cars and busy employees with no time to visit a storage facility, technology has removed barriers such as time and transport. It has also widened the customer base of storage services to a more urban set of consumers, often with smaller storage needs.

Even the storage industry’s customer service is seeing the effects of the technology revolution. Online-chat features, adopted by more providers, allow customers to instant message customer-service agents, offering immediate responses to burning questions without the clients having to leave their screen. Consumers are no longer willing to twiddle their thumbs in a facility office waiting for the manager to be done with another appointment. If they have questions, they want answers right at their fingertips. Embracing technology means even customer service can keep up with the right-here-right-now customer demands.

This move toward more online services should come as no surprise. Technology has brought more convenience to the storage industry for years. The rise of unmanned self-service kiosks at facilities around the country is just one step along this path, with machines “conversing” with clients and dispensing unit locks after office hours. Companies that have shifted further online are simply an extension of this automation process.

It’s now near impossible for businesses in any sector to ignore the changing consumer landscape new technology has created. At a time when customers demand round the clock service within easy reach, embracing technology and moving toward online amenities means storage providers can keep up with these expectations and give their customers the convenience they crave. 

Natalie Andrews is a marketing associate for SpaceWays, a valet self-storage startup. To reach her, e-mail natalie.andrews@spaceways.com; visit www.spaceways.com.
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