Sometimes building a better mousetrap really just requires looking at a situation with fresh eyes.
That’s what former Oracle executive Phil Murphy learned when he launched Storagebythebox.com, a storage company with a new business model, earlier this year.
Murphy’s company turns the traditional storage model on its head. While self-storage facilities require you to purchase the supplies to box your items, find a way to transport your boxes to and from the location, and pay for space that you might not be using, Storagebythebox.com allows customers to do all that from home for up to 60 percent less than the cost of renting a storage unit.
Storage horror stories
Murphy, who serves as Storagebythebox.com’s CEO, has more than 20 years’ experience in the self-storage industry, and currently owns and operates 11 traditional storage facilities. The idea to offer an alternative came when a friend told Murphy his Manhattan move-in horror story.
“Lack of storage space is real problem for a lot of people, especially urban residents living in small apartments,” Murphy said. “And, if you live in an urban area without a car, getting your stuff to and from the unit can be a nightmare.”
After hearing of his friend’s experience — learning that it was quite a common experience —Murphy decided to team up with Federal Express to start Storagebythebox.com. By storing all of its customer’s boxes together in a secured, climate-controlled warehouse, Storagebythebox.com is able to use every square inch of space efficiently, ensuring that no customer has to pay for unused storage space.
Unique pricing structure
The process begins when customers log on to Storagebythebox.com. The company sends customers prepaid Federal Express shipping labels — plus basic packing supplies including boxes, bubble wrap and tape if the customers don’t have them — and when their items are ready to ship, customers can either drop their boxes off at any FedEx location, or schedule a pickup through the website or directly through FedEx. Customers can also upload pictures and descriptions of their items so they know exactly what’s in each box. When they need their items back, they log back on to the website , select the boxes they want through the carefully regulated inventory search, and choose their shipping method. The customers’ items are returned as soon as overnight to any location — they only pay for the return shipping.
In addition to low monthly prices ($3 per cubic foot or $5 per box if you use Storagebythebox.com’s free standard boxes) and the convenience of having FedEx deliver your items to and from the company’s warehouse, Storagebythebox.com also offers its customers several other useful services.
For small businesses it offers record/inventory management, which allows firms to store important documents and items off-site with the knowledge that they are safe, secure and able to be retrieved at any time. Storagebythebox.com’s services can also be coordinated with online shopping, so that items you’ve purchased can be shipped directly to its warehouse until you’re ready for them at home. Finally, the company offers a $1-per-box protection plan that covers most items for theft, vandalism, weather damage and damage due to natural disasters.
“We started offering the protection plan right from the start. It has helped give many of our customers peace of mind while their things are in storage,” Murphy told BusinessNewsDaily. “We have around half of our boxes in storage enrolled in the protection plan.”
While Storagebythebox.com’s mainly markets to businesses and customers in urban areas with little home storage space, college students have increasingly taken advantage of the company’s inexpensive, easy-to-use services. Many students who live in on-campus dorms or apartments need a place to store their things when they go home for the summer or study abroad.
Social media marketing
Thanks to Storagebythebox.com’s “return anywhere” policy, all of their items can be shipped directly to their new dorm when they arrive back at school. Through social networking sites , students refer their friends to Storagebythebox.com, which has led to a considerable boost in business for the company.
“We’re growing 200 percent month over month, [and] we’re getting a bulk of our customers from referrals. The student market is very large for us — we’re getting a lot of Facebook traffic,” Murphy said.
The company’s location is crucial to its success: with its centralized Chicago warehouse, Storagebythebox.com is able to serve the entire country. Murphy says that plans to open a second facility on the West Coast are in the works.
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