Market research and consulting firm Parks Associates recently released, in partnership with Vantiva, its latest white paper, “Next-Generation Self-Storage: Leveraging Technology to Grow Revenue,” which examined the changing self-storage landscape and technology’s role in driving revenue growth.
The research looked at where self-storage property owners were leveraging the Internet of Things (IoT) to bring new services to their customers, drive operational changes such as remote site management, and automate processes to save on costs and increase convenience.
Demand for self-storage solutions grew amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the report. Households around the world needed to adjust to their living spaces to accommodate their new remote work environment and home renovations. Since that time however, the industry has seen a gradual decrease in demand, which has forced companies to reassess their strategies.
“Self-storage providers have turned to technology as a cornerstone of their growth strategy,” said Parks Associates Research Director Kristen Hanich. “The integration of Internet of Things technologies and digital platforms is becoming pivotal. Companies are investing in upgrading their facilities and adopting IoT solutions to streamline operations, enhance security, and provide convenient, automated experiences for their customers.”
The white paper, based on in-depth interviews with self-storage owners and operators, uncovered the key trends shaping the market and highlights areas where technology is driving positive change. The report examined the many roles tech plays in facilities, the key benefits, and the challenges and best practices that industry leaders recommend.
For example, as the self-storage industry shifts, operators are turning to more digital services and solutions such as digital rentals, as well as self-service and extended operating hours. New security options are another amenity self-storage operators are exploring.
Additionally, when self-storage customer demand boomed during the pandemic, so did interest in adopting digital rentals and app-based experiences. Today, tenants expect these options and facilities that don’t offer them are at a disadvantage, the report said. Facilities must do what they can to stay competitive; 2023 occupancy rates have returned to 90 percent, a drop from the pandemic high 97 percent.
Technology will likely play a key role in helping self-storage facilities boost their occupancy numbers. Traditionally, the market has relied on manual processes and on-site staff to handle most of its operations. This trend is starting to change as operators embrace the digital platforms that are available to them. Integrated platforms allow operators to launch self-service and longer hours by combining web and app-based rentals with remote storage locker provisioning. Customers can view facilities, pick their contract terms and sign contracts electronically.
The white paper noted that some of the industry’s innovative companies also remotely provide their customers with access codes or authentication credentials to enter their facilities and access their rental unit. This access addresses a major frustration customers who rent a locker remotely deal with — having to go to the brick-and-mortar site to get a key or gate code.
“Companies that have switched to remote site management in particular report savings through being able to reduce on-site staffing,” the report said. “Some have been able to expand their footprints while maintaining existing staffing levels. Of course, not all tenants will be interested in using purely digital approaches, and some may prefer self-serve kiosks or to speak in-person with staff.”
“As the self-storage industry navigates these transformative times, technology remains a driving force in ensuring and maximizing its growth and competitiveness,” Reza Raji, Senior VP of Smart Spaces IoT at Vantiva, said.
Click here to access the full white paper.