Traditionally, shipping containers served one sole purpose: to transport items of various shapes and sizes safely across the world. This is no longer the case. Times have changed and people have started to think more outside the 20-40 foot box. Each year, up to 500,000 shipping containers experience an afterlife, whether it be as an office, a ticket booth or even a portable toilet unit. However, the most interesting use for these retired shipping containers seems to be happening in the realm of retail.
Shipping containers are becoming an increasingly popular substitute for start-up companies who don’t want to operate as bricks and mortar businesses. More and more ‘street food’ vendors are diverting from the streets and moving into steel containers to set up their businesses. The idea was first ignited in the UK by Roger Wade, who launched Boxpark in 2011. Boxpark is a food and retail park made entirely out of shipping containers, and the concept has amassed a great amount of popularity since. A second Boxpark was built in Croydon in 2016, with a third location in Wembley set to open in December 2018. Pop Brixton follows a similar template, making use of 50 former shipping containers to house a variety of businesses ranging from restaurants, bars and clothing retailers. In addition, Bristol’s shipping container mini-village Cargo has been named one of the best places to eat out in the UK. Clearly, this is a trend that isn’t going away any time soon. Here are some reasons why we think shipping container based businesses are the future of retail.
It should hardly be a surprise that one of the benefits of shipping containers is their durability. They are specifically designed to carry valuable cargo and are built to withstand the most extreme weather conditions while at sea.
While in shipping service these containers can last from 10 to 12 years and can be used for other purposes for a further 15 years afterwards. Businesses using shipping containers will rarely need to pay for any maintenance costs, and can be reassured in knowing that their shop is made out of one of the toughest materials available.
Of course, we’re not talking about the containers themselves here (last time we checked, steel isn’t the most flexible material on the market). Using shipping containers provides your business with the flexibility of being able to expand the size of your shop as you please. If your business is lucky enough to receive a sudden influx of customers, you may find that you need that little bit of extra space to accommodate this new level of popularity.
With a brick and mortar business, this would require an expensive conversion, tedious planning or a change of location entirely. By contrast, shipping container based businesses can easily connect additional containers onto their existing shop – meaning that you can increase the potential for your business without the headaches and added costs.
Containers are also flexible in terms of transport. A start-up clothing company, for example, might want to set up shop at various summer festivals to offer their products to people all over the country and spread awareness of the company name. This would be incredibly easy for a shipping container based business, who could simply load their container onto a truck, unload upon arrival and instantly be ready to sell.
With our containers costing as little as £2,000, it is a much cheaper alternative to paying a lease on a brick and mortar space. New businesses cannot always afford to operate in a building initially, with many often resorting to market stalls. A shipping container is the perfect balance between two extremes, allowing businesses to stay within budget while also maintaining a professional and modern aesthetic. As a result, shipping container based-businesses have more money to fund the more important things like creating quality products and improving their brand as a whole.
Today, businesses are being put under more and more pressure to be environmentally friendly, and rightly so. By choosing to use a retired shipping container, your business is already making a step in the right direction by using upcycled materials. There are more unused shipping containers in the world than there are used, so it only makes sense to give these steel structures a new purpose!
Moreover, as we discussed in this article, shipping containers can be easily recycled once businesses are finished with them. Therefore, shipping containers are the perfect solution for businesses looking to do their bit to save the planet.
In an increasingly saturated market, it is important for businesses to stand out from the crowd. Shipping container based businesses succeed in doing this because what they are doing is different from the norm. Also, when executed correctly, it can provide for a really cool and unique look for your shop. Obviously, a Starbucks Coffee shop made entirely out of shipping containers is going to attract more customers than an ordinary one.
If you’re thinking about setting up a new business and are considering a shipping container, here are some ideas to get you on your way:
Clearly, shipping container based businesses are the future of retail, and it’s not hard to see why. Get in touch today to find out how you can take your first step in building your shop of the future.