By Gugu Lourie
The concept – popular abroad in big cities such as New York, London and Hong Kong, where living space is at a premium – allows consumers to open up a virtual storage account, order the number of boxes they need, and have the boxes delivered free to their homes.
XtraSpace, South Africa’s national space provider, is bringing to the country a virtual storage account with an aim to declutter your life without having to get rid of things you might need later.
The company has set-up a new division that offers door-to-door personal storage known as SpaceBox, an e-commerce enterprise using technology and sleek customer service to totally transform the storage industry.
SpaceBox clients never have to leave their homes (or offices) to rent boxes to store personal belongings in a secure location – each step the consumer takes is simply done online.
Once they have packed whatever they’re storing, they request a pick up from the moving teams online, who will collect the boxes and
take them to a secure storage facility.
“It’s an incredibly easy way to create space in your home or office, and declutter your life by eliminating distractions,” says CEO and co-founder, Hjalmar Venter.
“From vinyl records, out of season clothes and treasured books to unused sporting equipment and your last five years’ tax paperwork you have to keep, you can now open up your living space and declutter your environment without having to get rid of things you might need later.”
The idea is fast gaining traction around the world as living space shrinks and technology and great customer service transform the storage industry, which has stayed the same over many years.
“Each SpaceBox has a unique ID and bar code attached on the side. You can take pictures of your boxes and upload them into the virtual catalogue with the corresponding box ID,” Venter says.
Security is a key issue for most South Africans, and SpaceBox has taken this seriously. The entire operational team undergo first class training, which is supported by state-of-the art warehousing and security equipment.
The startup says the only authorised personnel know where SpaceBoxes are stored and are allowed entry.
“That’s an important factor in our security plan. We also have a state-of-the-art security system, CCTV, 24-hour guard patrols and fire suppression technology. The boxes themselves are closed with tamper-proof seals in your presence, and protected from the elements,” says Venter.
The boxes are made of commercial grade plastic that is sufficiently strong to be reused over and over. Therefore each SpaceBox saves more than 100 trees during its lifetime, compared to cardboard boxes, and is 100% recyclable.
The self-storage industry in South Africa is worth billions and growing.
“We’re hoping we can increase the size of the market with customers currently needing space, but not wanting to visit a self-storage facility, as well as current self-storage clientele that believe this service would suit their requirements better,” says Venter says.
“Of course we need consumers to embrace e-commerce but with smartphone penetration growing daily, and broadband getting cheaper, coupled with property and living spaces getting smaller and more expensive, it’s an industry with massive growth potential. It is going to disrupt the self-storage industry, no doubt. For us, it’s important to be the first to market.”