A new tactic in the stuff storage wars: Granularity
First there was the basement. And then we moved into homes with no basements. Then came the storage facility. But they’re inconvenient. So someone came up with storage pods — the storage facility that comes to you. It was a great innovation, but if you wanted to add or remove items from storage, you had to have your crate dropped in front of your house.
Here’s the latest thing: Boxbee, an “urban” storage company that will drop off empty packing boxes at your place, whisk your full boxes of stuff away when you want, and deliver individual boxes back to you quickly as well, within two hours of getting the request.
The pitch is that space-challenged urbanites can store seasonal or occasional-use items (like snowboards or fancy china) and quickly and somewhat cheaply get these items out of storage, and back in, on their own schedule. It’s more warehousing than straight-up storage, since the service is designed to be used at the granular box level. It’s not all-or-nothing, like a moving service or a pod.
The baseline fee is $3 per month per standard-size packing box. Prices for bigger boxes are higher, but fees go down when you store more.
Boxbee itself owns no trucks or warehouses. “We link consumers to warehouses,” says CEO Kristoph Matthews. Boxes are carted by courier companies or even by TaskRabbit workers, depending on the size and weight of the job.
Matthews told me that, “We’re not a storage company. We’re a stuff-management platform.” That is an eye-roller of a mission, but Boxbee does in fact help you manage your stuff beyond simply warehousing it.
The service helps you keep a database of what’s stored where, for instance. This is important for its upcoming per-box services. For example, if you’ve decided that you are tired of paying for the storage of your box of Hummel figurines, you will be able to direct Boxbee to put the collection on eBay. It will transfer your box to an eBay management company. Should the items not sell, you can then ask Boxbee to donate the things to a local Goodwill. Either way, you never have to see or touch the things again.
Boxbee’s granularity and flexibility — the per-box pricing, quick delivery promise, and the disposal services — should drive users to more actively manage their stuff. They should, in theory, be more likely to stop paying for storage they don’t need (compared to storage units, which often go paid-for and neglected for months or years). They should also use the service more, paying Boxbee for each stuff-management interaction.
Boxbee is an interesting re-think of consumer storage. It is more detailed and data-driven than traditional products, but its extra services may actually lead to consumers saving money.
The service is available now in San Francisco.
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