Turning Your Self-Storage Facility Into a One-Stop Shop: Mastering the Art of Industry Retail

Everyone wants convenience these days, and what’s easier for a customer than picking up their moving and packing supplies at the same place they rent a self-storage unit? If you aren’t selling boxes, tape, bubble wrap and other similar items, you’re missing out on easy profit. Find out what it takes to set up, stock, maintain and market a successful retail store.

Cassie Dodgen, Owner and Operator

February 7, 2024

6 Min Read

Self-storage facilities have evolved into versatile hubs for customers' moving and organizational needs. One key revenue-generating opportunity for operators is the sale of retail products. Following is advice on how to effectively stock, market and sell moving and packing supplies at your location.

Choose the Right Merchandise

Selecting the appropriate products for your self-storage retail store is a crucial first step. When deciding what items to sell, keep in mind customer needs, item quality, pricing and seasonal adjustments.

The most common products to stock are moving boxes, tape, bubble wrap or packing paper, and unit locks. However, feel free to include others that might be desirable, such as dish-packing kits, moving blankets, mattress pads and packing materials for large items such as TVs. If your facility offers boat and RV storage, consider items that target these renters such as tie-down straps, rope, an assortment of batteries and even toilet paper.

When shopping for retail supplies, choose high-quality, durable products that can withstand the rigors of moving and storage. Opting for cheap goods is a disservice to your customers and could harm your business’ reputation.

Finding self-storage retail products at a good price is essential, as it’ll determine your profit margin; but don’t aim so high that your inventory won’t move. Price items so they entice people to buy but still provide decent revenue to your business. Also, keep shipping and quantity requirements in mind when choosing your vendor.

Finally, understand that the sale of moving and packing supplies will fluctuate throughout the year. For example, many people move and rent storage during the summer, so keep more stock on hand at that time. Tailoring your merchandise selection to match seasonal needs can help you capitalize on the sale of these products. Also, be on the lookout for bargains and close-outs. Just make sure you’re purchasing items that’ll sell in your store.

Create Effective Displays

Once you have the right self-storage retail merchandise, it's essential to create compelling in-store displays. You need an eye-catching layout, clear signage, sample setups and accessibility. To grab customers’ attention, arrange products in an organized and visually appealing manner. Grid walls are ideal for smaller products, as they keep everything neat. You can also artfully stack a variety of cardboard boxes. Just make sure they don’t block walkways or obstruct other displays.

WEB_Lifestyle_Self_Storage_Center_Bear_DE_retail_2.jpgLifestyle Self Storage Center, Bear, Delaware

To create a welcoming atmosphere, lighting and cleanliness is key. Customers shouldn’t have to struggle to read signage or have trouble accessing goods they wish to purchase. Nor should they need help from an associate to reach something they want to buy. Keep all your products neat and accessible. Use clear signage to help customers find what they need quickly. Pricing should also be easy to see.

Inform Your Customers

Educating self-storage customers about the benefits of your retail products can significantly impact purchasing decisions. Don’t make people guess about which supplies are best for which uses. Brochures, posters and online marketing provide valuable information about how these products can simplify moving and storing.

Guides or instructions on ways to pack efficiently or organize their items in a storage unit will also help customers understand their own needs. For example, set up a wardrobe box and add some hangers and a few inexpensive shirts inside. You can do something similar with a dish-packing kit. Giving tenants a visual can often lead to more sales.

Staff also play a significant role in the success of a self-storage retail store. Employees should have extensive product knowledge so they can answer tenant questions and make recommendations based on customer needs. They should also be skilled at cross selling and upselling. For example, when someone is renting a storage unit, they’ll need a lock to secure the space. They’ll also likely need boxes and tape. Staff should be readily available to help customers and offer guidance to help buyers make informed decisions. This’ll promote your retail sales in a positive way.

Consider Pricing

When selling self-storage retail products, regularly review your prices to stay competitive. Consider bulk discounts and bundle deals to encourage more significant purchases, which will also assist with a regular rotation of merchandise.

If there are products that simply aren’t selling, offer them at a discount as part of a bigger purchase. This can motivate customers to buy more. For example, you might provide a large box for free when a customer purchases five medium ones.

A clearance sale to move old or slow-selling inventory off your shelves can help you prepare for upcoming product demands. Summer season stimulates additional purchases, as it’s peak moving time. The winter holidays, spring cleaning and graduation are also prime times for promotions.

If you have repeat buyers, create a loyalty program with exclusive offers and discounts. This builds trust and appreciation, even when pricing increases are warranted. You can also create a referral program that rewards business partners. Making connections with moving companies and real estate offices that send business to you will organically drive more traffic to your facility. Leverage these partnerships to cross-promote each other's services.

Promote Your Products

The digital landscape offers numerous opportunities to promote your merchandise. When someone is looking to rent a self-storage unit, they look online. When storage is partnered with retail products, your facility becomes a one-stop shop.

Social media platforms are a great place to promote your offerings, share testimonials and engage with your audience. Showing a clean display packed with moving and packing supplies allows customers to get familiar with your location and plan for what they need to buy before they arrive.

Local listings and search engine optimization not only improve your website but promote the additional products and services you provide, including your retail merch. Reviews are also a way to fuel your online presence while being a huge part of the customer experience, helping build trust and credibility. Happy tenants should always be guided to leave online reviews about their wonderful and satisfying interaction with your company.

Finally, your retail store shouldn’t be limited to only your storage customers. Your products can help a variety of other businesses and organizations in your community. Add these companies to your marketing.

Adapt as Needed

To continually improve your self-storage retail sales and marketing strategies, solicit customer feedback and adjust in response. Your tenants or community members might request items that’ll require you to refine or increase your offerings. You might also find that some products attract zero interest, so be flexible about what’s on your sales floor.

The best way to do this is to analyze your data to assess the performance of your merchandise. If a promotion, price or a specific marketing strategy isn’t boosting sales, don’t be afraid to adjust. Every market is different, so being moldable and creative in your strategies will put your ahead of your competitors and help you reach your sales goals.

Selling and marketing retail products can significantly boost your self-storage revenue and enhance the overall customer experience. By choosing the right merchandise, creating appealing displays, educating your customer and implementing effective marketing strategies, you can tap into this valuable revenue stream. Stay adaptable and always seek opportunities for improvement. With a well-executed plan, you can transform your self-storage facility into a one-stop shop for all your customers’ storage and moving needs.

Cassie Dodgen is owner and operator of Monarch Republic LLC, where her responsibilities include strategic leadership, facility operation, accounting, human resources and marketing. She also implements new projects and ideas to stay competitive with self-storage industry standards. For more information, email [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Cassie Dodgen

Owner and Operator, Monarch Republic LLC

Cassie Dodgen is owner and operator of Monarch Republic LLC, where her responsibilities include strategic leadership, facility operation, accounting, human resources and marketing. She also implements new projects and ideas to stay competitive with self-storage industry standards. For more information, email [email protected].

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