Will the self-storage market be disrupted by new on-demand storage solutions?


We all know the traditional self-storage warehouses in which you can store stuff that you don’t need on a daily basis or during a certain period of the year. Storing your stuff often is very time consuming and sometimes even expensive, e.g. requiring you to rent a van, trailer wagon or to buy moving boxes and other shipping supplies. According to Rocket Internet startup SpaceWays from London, this traditional self-storage is not fit for urban areas. Their ‘new, easy, convenient, safe and affordable way’ to store all our stuff is an on-demand storage solution that means customers no longer need to haul stuff back and forth to a self-storage facility.

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The business model is based on a monthly subscription for which in return SpaceWays picks up, stores and returns boxes or bulky items in just a few clicks via their website. If a customer orders a pick-up, first some boxes will be dropped off to your door so you can pack the things you don’t have room for. Once you’re ready, the company will collect your boxes (or bulky items e.g. bicycles that don’t fit in the boxes) and bring them to their warehouse. When you want your stuff back you can easily view your online inventory page and select which boxes and articles you want to have returned within a promised 24 hours.

The service offered by SpaceWays seems to perfectly fit a generation with a ‘hassled urban life’ in which flexibility, efficiency and convenience are highly valued. However, personally I’m still not completely convinced of the (potential) success of the offered solution. I see the advantages of never having the hassle of having to drive somewhere and access a self-storage unit again. Yet, I wonder if it wouldn’t be too much of a threshold for people to put their stuff into the hands of others that are supposed to take good care of it and safely bring it to (or return it from) a warehouse. Some might argue that this wouldn’t be a problem since people usually don’t store their most valuable items in a storage box. However, since people do want them to be stored (instead of e.g. throwing away) it means the stuff does matter to them.

What do you think? Would you use on-demand storage services without worrying about how your stuff is being taken care of? And do you see a disruptive potential?

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Source: https://www.spaceways.co.uk/

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3 responses to “Will the self-storage market be disrupted by new on-demand storage solutions?”

  1. 377095lo says :

    The question is whether the convenience of the service outweighs the mistrust of the customers. I think this is very much dependent on the customers themselves; one person is minimalistic, while the other person attaches more importance to material, objects and personal stuff. Also, the level of mistrust that varies from person to person may play a big role in the success of the idea. The transport process could be perceived as risky and privacy is another drawback; if customers want to receive only certain articles, the employees will have to go through their belongings to locate them.
    Perhaps the idea is appealing to travelers who want to get rid of their stuff easily and quickly. However, I think that today’s society is not ready to give as much control over their belongings, at least I am certainly not. Especially now that society is becoming more and more demanding and materialistic. Therefore I am skeptical towards the idea and I do not really see a disruptive potential in it; at least not in the short-term. In time people might start to get more faith in technological solutions and have less privacy concerns, so maybe that is where SpaceWays’ potential lays?

    • 20150925 says :

      Looking at their website in more detail, it looks like each box is sealed so they do not have access to anything. They just bring back whichever box you require.
      Regarding the concept in general, I don’t think it would work in any city, but in London where no one has a car it’s a great concept !
      I do not think it’s a disruption of the current storage market, more a new market. Only a small portion of current storage users would use it; I think it appeals more to people who wouldn’t use storage otherwise (a bit the same way I’m using Uber now but never took a cab before)

  2. 362278cl says :

    Nice concept and I could see how this can match the current need of flexibility. However, I also do have my doubts about the concept. What makes this concept better than the traditional self-storage warehouses? The first thing I think is important to most people are the cost benefits and the convenience to collect stuff when needed. As for cost, I wonder to what extent the business of SpaceWays is profitable. What if I was a customer of SpaceWays, and I want to collect my personal belongings 3-4 times in a week for example. If all customers of Spaceways want to retrieve some of their personal belongings in this kind of frequency this is accompanied by many additional costs. Perhaps there are specific agreements but the way I see it this can be a struggle. Coming back to your point of storing valuable items, I expect that there is a certain privacy policy within SpaceWays. So I don’t think this should lead to problems. I am particularly skeptical about the viability of the concept. And therefore I am wondering is this is just ‘one of the new fun ideas’ instead of a real concept that will change the self-storage market. Nevertheless, I had never heard about SpaceWays before, so it was nice to read about it in your blog.

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