By Richard Morris, CEO Evans Easyspace
Many businesses are now avoiding the expense of a fixed store in favour of operating exclusively online. However, many still need storage for products and equipment. I will explain why self storage is gaining popularity amongst ecommerce companies.
With more companies operating online, rather than from offices or bricks and mortar stores, they simply need somewhere to store stock, and self storage containers provide a cheap, flexible solution.
The 2014 UK Annual Survey from The Self Storage Association shows that in the UK, there are almost 1,000 sites providing self storage covering over 30 million square feet and that 40% of self-storage space is for commercial use.
So, what are the key advantages to using self storage for a business?
Self storage centres are usually located outside of city centres, making them much cheaper per square foot than traditional office space. There’s also the advantage that you only pay for what you use and when you use it, rather than renting a huge warehouse which may be full at peak trading times but is half empty the rest of the year. While the price of self storage space varies across the country, average prices stand at around £20 per square foot per year, making it a very cost effective storage option.
Short notice period
In today’s uncertain economic climate, many businesses are unwilling to sign long-term contracts for warehouses or shop space. Indeed, many company owners find themselves subject to the natural peaks and troughs of modern business, with some busy and some quieter periods. However, most self storage providers will allow people to give just one month’s notice, some as little as one week.
Easy to expand
The flexible lease terms of self storage also make it easier for businesses to expand. This is particularly useful for new start-ups which can start with a small space early on and take on more square footage if business starts to boom.
No business rates
While VAT on storage space was introduced in 2012, businesses can claim it back and also don’t have to pay any business rates on any storage space used. Instead the Valuation Office Agency says that the owner of the storage facility should be liable for any rate payments.
Most self storage units have CCTV cameras running at all times, meaning users can be assured that their stock or equipment will be secure. Unlike in warehouses, companies are also safe in the knowledge that only they can access their self storage container.
One of many reasons for the upsurge in the number of online companies over the past few years is the relatively small investment needed for set up. Without the need for a fixed store or office, a start-up business can be launched far more cost effectively than ever before. However, when business starts to take off many of these ecommerce companies outgrow the home environment, and need somewhere more substantial to store products and equipment.
Rather than eat into profits by taking on a lengthy lease, many small businesses are embracing self storage; a flexible, cost effective solution which can easily grow as their business expands.