Online shopping is a passion of mine. To me, it represents the thrill of the chase. I can seek out any product that can be imagined, no matter how obscure. Once I’ve found it, I compare the item across multiple sites. Then begins the search for that prized promo or coupon code that will help me snag it at an excellent price. There’s nothing quite like the high of finding that perfect something—maybe one you never believed could exist—and then landing a killer bargain to sweeten the deal.
But all that aside, it’s so much more pleasant to shop online than in brick-and-mortar retail outlets these days. No crowds, no screaming children, no bulky shopping carts or dirty changing rooms … no lines. You just sit in the comfort of your own home, or the local café, or the airport or wherever you happen to be and search, compare, click, pay—done! Particularly during the winter holiday season, you couldn’t pay me to shop any other way.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could do the same for the products and services you need for your self-storage business? Well, to some extent, you can, depending on what you need. If it’s something simple like office or cleaning supplies, you have a wealth of online options at your fingertips. But do you know where to go if you’re interested in more industry-specific items, like roll-up doors or management software or gates or overlocks? What about services like third-party management or digital marketing?
For many years now, Inside Self-Storage has provided an industry Buyer’s Guide, updated and published each year in the magazine’s August issue and consistently maintained online for anytime use. It’s a very handy tool that allows you to search for companies by name, product type, state or country. Facility developers, investors and operators refer to it often when shopping for the things they need.
Now we’ve taken the guide a step further with the all-new ISS Vendor Locator. It functions similarly to a buyer’s guide, but its features are much more robust. We like to think of it as a directory “on steroids.” Some of its participants have even referred to it as an online tradeshow.
Similar to the buyer’s guide, this online marketplace allows you to search for the products and services you need by category or company name. But with the Vendor Locator, you can even search by keyword. What’s particularly special about it is each company has its own “storefront” where you can learn all about the business and its offerings, see a map to its location, request a proposal, send an e-mail or link out to the website. You can even view company videos and download other resources like whitepapers and brochures. There’s no self-storage buyer’s guide on the planet that allows you to do all that.
To be clear, you can’t purchase items directly through the Vendor Locator. There’s no shopping cart, and no money changes hands there. Just think of it as your opportunity to gather information, ask questions and build relationships with the vendors that support our industry and have many years of expertise in the business. Our marketplace will connect you with the right companies to meet your needs, and you can open discussion on offerings, packages and other details.
Tradeshows like the annual Inside Self-Storage World Expo in Las Vegas are great places to shop because you can look vendors in the eye, touch and try products, and share observations with other attendees. But events such as these happen only a few times per year, and they come at a cost. The ISS Vendor Locator is always open. At any time, day or night, you can browse, read, explore and send communication. Being brand new, the list of participants is small right now but growing every day. Please check back often as the portal grows and becomes an ever richer resource for your shopping needs.
Have questions or feedback about the new online marketplace? Feel free to post them to the comments section below. We welcome your thoughts and suggestions.