Although self-storage is a pretty low-tech business, a few recent changes in technology have helped change the face of the storage business for renters, facility managers and auction-goers alike.
Here are five recent technologies that have changed the face of self-storage and may have long-lasting effects on the future of auctions:
Self-storage Apps. It seems like there’s an app for everything, and self-storage is no exception. Many storage facilities are taking advantage of apps that their customers can download. Through the app, the renters can pay their bill remotely rather than needing to send in a check or stop off at the facility. Renters can also be alerted when the storage facility runs a special or has any other news to share. The ability to pay remotely may make renting a unit more convenient, which could reduce the number of units that go into default.
Self-service kiosks. These computerized kiosks are located outside of storage facilities and accept credit card payments. Like mobile apps, these kiosks enable renters to pay for their units without needing to make contact with the facility owners. This allows them to make after-hours payments and complete other storage tasks without any management oversight. This, too, might reduce the number of units that go into default, which could affect storage auction numbers.
Virtual Storage. An increasingly popular trend in self-storage facilities is to create so-called “virtual storage” for your items. In a traditional storage facility, the customer rents a unit and fills it with items. In a virtual unit, the renter has the items shipped by POD to a climate-controlled warehouse. The renter can then keep track of what items are stored there through a virtual inventorying system. If the renter wants to access a particular item, he can request it through the storage company’s website and have it shipped back to him. If renters have a clear idea of what they have in storage, they may be less willing to lose those items due to unpaid rent. Some companies that use this system are StorageByMail and Cyber Space.
Internet Advertising for Auctions. At one time, all facilities were required to print notices of lien auctions in the newspaper. More recently, some states have begun allowing these notices to be printed online instead. This saves the storage facility money and makes it much easier to find auctions as you no longer have to know what papers to look in for lien auction notices. More states are likely to adopt this legislature in the next few years.
Virtual Storage Auctions. If people can store their items virtually, it only makes sense that they could auction them virtually as well. Virtual storage auctions take advantage of an eBay-like bidding model to put units up for sale to interested buyers. This makes buying storage units much simpler and faster than ever before, and it might just revolutionize the way that storage units are bought and sold. By using the free service at OnlineStorageAuctions.com, bidders and sellers alike can participate in auctions without spending any money beyond the cost of the unit.
In the future, as technology continues to improve, new developments may occur that will further change the storage landscape. One thing is clear, though: As long as people have stuff to store, there will be a few tenants who fail to pay their rent and eager buyers ready to make a profit on these items.
So what do you think about these tech products? Have you used one of them and if so, how was your experience? Are there other storage tech products that you think should be added to this list?
Leave your interesting and creative responses in the comments section below.