UL: Please tell us the history and activities of the association
The SSAA has proudly supported the self-storage industry of Australia and New Zealand for more than 30 years now. We are fortunate to have a strong history of dedicated founders, members and industry pioneers who continue to support the association and the industry at large today. Their founding vision was to create an industry body that would support owners and operators to grow the industry from strength to strength. We uphold that vision today by seeking to inspire excellence and engagement right across the sector.
We’re privileged to represent more than 80% of self-storage operators across Australasia and focus our impact on supporting members to uphold the highest professional standards, for the benefit of industry. The SSAA plays an important role in industry research and mapping the success of the sector, managing the self-storage agreement and operational guidelines, crafting industry-led reports to support development activity, and delivering events like our annual Convention, where the industry comes together over three incredible days to celebrate everything self-storage! We also prioritize connecting facility operators to service providers who are passionate about the self-storage industry and committed to its longevity and growth.
UL: Where does the industry stand today and where it is headed?
The Australasian self-storage industry continues to move from strength to strength, signaling a bright future with strong underlying fundamentals and plenty of new supply in the pipeline. Throughout the pandemic, the industry demonstrated remarkable resilience and record growth. Some of that growth has been driven by changes in lifestyle and living spaces, such as downsizing and an increased normalization of working from home. We’ve also seen a greater shift towards businesses using self-storage. In terms of where the industry is headed, we’re seeing some incredible innovation tailored for the industry on the tech and automation front. A lot of it is centred around improving the customer experience which will help to drive further awareness and usage across the sector.
UL: Are there notable differences between the markets in the region or any peculiar, interesting, novel trends that have cropped up?
One of the main differences between Asian and Australasian markets is the style of facilities and nature of property holdings. In Australasia, there is a greater opportunity to own and develop the underlying land and property. Our markets tend towards purpose-built facilities and our inner-city environments feature many standalone multi-storey facilities. There remain greenfield and brownfield development opportunities and we don’t have many operators engaged in leasehold arrangements. The Australasian market is also more mature, having been in existence in some areas for around 50 years now. We have the second highest rate of self-storage floor space supply per capita globally, behind the USA. Awareness of self-storage is very high in Australasia (90%+), and usage rates continue to grow year-on-year, with many customers likely to be return users of self-storage.
UL: What is the role of technology providers like UL in the industry and any thoughts you have on that ?
Businesses driving the innovation behind technology advancements and automation for the self-storage industry are incredibly important, particularly as our consumer research is demonstrating that prospective customers are very open to technology-enabled experiences. Many operators are using automation to some capacity and are looking for solutions that allow them to streamline their operations so they can invest their time into supporting customer experience and revenue growth. There is appetite from owners and operators to adopt technology that drives efficiency across the full spectrum of their business – from design and development right through to security and access control. The innovation and products we see from technology and automation providers will inevitably accelerate the sophistication of the sector, which will benefit both operators and customers.
UL: Your thoughts on a new app product that UL launched?
It is exciting to see an uptick in the development of storage-specific apps for customers, particularly as 70% of the consumers surveyed for our most recent industry report were in favor of using a smart app to book and manage their storage units. Australians and New Zealanders are very comfortable shopping and purchasing online, and self-storage is no different. Many prospective self-storage customers are researching solutions online and will look to book and pay online where convenient. This type of app will assist with streamlining the online booking and move-in process and could also help operators reach untapped demand.
We were delighted with Unwired Logic’s recent contribution to the SSAA Insider Magazine which explores the similarities and differences between the Australasian and Singaporean self-storage industries, particularly from a tech perspective. It will be interesting to see how technology and automation continue to shape both markets. We are excited to continue working with UL as a valued service member and look forward to seeing how UL continues to innovate for the self-storage industry.