U-Storage, access to premium locations through Self StorageBy Alejandro Enríquez | Wed, 09/30/2020 - 06:00
Q: What added value does U-Storage bring to the logistics market in Mexico?
A: Our added value comes from our strategic location within major cities, particularly Mexico City, close to high-demand and high-consumption areas for e-commerce platforms and individuals looking for additional storage space. The self-storage concept provides flexible spaces in size and rental periods for both. Different types of customers can manage their storage space according to their seasonal demand. Our locations also help digital sales sites to develop efficient last-mile routes. We provide 24-hour access, which makes it useful for modal transfers, dark stores and last-mile deliveries, allowing for effective logistics planning.
Q: What other elements make U-Storage a key player in a constantly innovating logistics market?
A: Our product is designed for any kind of company, regardless of its size. This ranges from the largest e-commerce player to the smallest distributor of a particular product. We are democratizing storage spaces to make them accessible to any customer. Naturally, large players will rent more space but both will enjoy the same service, the same amenities and transfer areas. Our customer profiles are diverse, which is an advantage. Other storage concepts are attached to large spaces or specific rental periods that make them unattractive for particular clients.
Q: How did U-Storage become a strong ally of companies focused on digital sales?
A: The pandemic accelerated digitalization and e-commerce by five to 10 years. As a consequence, companies experienced a disruption in their sales processes. Given the nature of U-Storage’s business model, we have become an enabler of both new companies emerging from the pandemic and existing companies that had to evolve rapidly. Our customers can find our nearest location and rent for a month to conduct their delivery process smoothly. The best thing is that they can conduct the entire process on the same day. Apart from being cost-efficient, supply chains must be resilient and U-Storage contributes to that by bringing companies closer to their customers. Companies that underwent reductions, consolidation or bankruptcy also have seen in U-Storage a tool to adapt better to a new stage in their business cycles.
Self-storage is also an ally for disruptive concepts and urban trends that are being accelerated, including the sharing economy, same-day deliveries, co-working, co-living and the general mindset of the millennial generation. To be a disruption enabler is key. Once the pandemic passes, we will see which of these trends prevail and which of them do not. Regardless, we are ready. An additional side-effect resulting from the pandemic for residential tenants in particular is working from home. This brings the challenge of organizing already reduced spaces to meet new needs. We support individuals who seek a nearby extension of their home space.
Q: How do you keep your customers and self-storage users safe?
A: We have recently announced a partnership with 3M to keep our common areas safe for all users. This is part of our effort to create trust among customers. Fortunately, our infrastructure had design features that allowed additional health measures to be integrated smoothly. We also carry out sanitization processes that, alongside the necessary health protocols, are overseen by our employees.
Q: What has been U-Storage’s experience in embracing digitalization strategies?
A: The race toward digitalization of the customer’s journey had already begun prior to the pandemic. However, the pandemic is accelerating our strategies to provide an immersive experience. Our website allows the customer, a business or an individual, to find the storage space they need, the location, prices, characteristics, and part of the contracting procedure as well. Our goal now is to provide the customer with digital locks and allow them to manage their access through a digital platform.
Q: What are U-Storage’s strategies to expand its footprint to other cities and regions in Mexico?
A: Through our capabilities and efficient operations, we understand how the market will react in different locations. One of our strategies has been to save all the data that has been generated, from our very first customers back in 2003 to our most recent customers today. The data of more than 45,000 customers has served as a basis for building insights and forecasts to understand how the market will behave.
We are proud of our analytical capacity; that is one of our major milestones. In perspective, the self-storage market in the US consists of more than 60,000 different self-storage locations, which means that there are more self-storage facilities than Walmart, McDonald’s, Starbucks and car dealerships combined. Understanding how the concept works and how it should be adapted to the Mexican market is at the core of our business strategy.
When thinking about expansion plans, our data analytics capacity puts us in a really interesting position. U-Storage is looking forward to creating strategic partnerships or joint ventures with real estate developers to create co-development schemes in different markets. We have our own public infrastructure and real estate investment fund (FIBRA) created in 2018 that operates on the Mexican stock exchange (BMV) and makes it easier to make partnerships at the local level due to the corporate governance, accountability and fiscal benefits it brings.
Q: What sectors represent the greatest opportunities for self-storage companies?
A: We see many opportunities in real estate developments given the reconfiguration of living spaces in large cities. Going vertical has reduced the available space in homes, which can be around 70 or 80m2. Moreover, the pandemic is boosting the living-by-rent concept given the flexibility it provides to individuals as this segment requires storage space.
Demand for self-storage services is driven by major events in a person’s life that range from remodeling a house to moving out of home, getting married or divorced. Almost by definition, millennials are recurrent users of self-storage, for instance. The same logic applies to businesses: when they expand or consolidate operations, they need space.
Q: What is the vision for U-Storage over the next five years?
A: Our vision is to continue being the reference for the self-storage sector in the country. There is a great deal of room to grow. Additionally, urban trends are driving people and companies toward self-storage. Our goal is to be the solution for all the storage needs faced by entrepreneurs, businesses and other users. We are a socially responsible and sustainable option as we become part of their communities. Our infrastructure has environmentally friendly features that also add value to our customers while reducing their carbon footprint.
U-Storage is a Mexican company that provides self-storage solutions for individuals and businesses. The company operates Fibra STORAGE, a public investment fund available in the Mexican stock market since 2018