Mobile First: How to Boost Customer Retention and Efficiency for Self-Storages

March 7, 2023 by
Sera Dohmann

When you leave the house early in the morning, the first thing you always ask yourself is whether you have packed your keys, your wallet and most importantly, your mobile phone. Nowadays, the mobile phone is not only a useful gadget but deeply implemented in our everyday life. In today's digital world, where people are constantly on the go, not much can separate a person from their beloved mobile device. The logical consequence of this is a trend of mobile-first because: Research has shown that the average time spent on the internet is increasing, but the average time spent on desktops is decreasing. This begs the question, where is all this extra time spent on the internet? That's right, on mobile devices!

What Does Mobile-First Mean?

The term mobile-first originated in web design. Mobile-first basically means creating a website starting with the mobile version and then adapting it to larger screens. The conventional way of creating a website would be to design the desktop version first and then adjust the mobile version. A mobile-first strategy focuses on usability.  

“Attention storage facility owners! If you aren’t marketing to smartphones, you are missing out on a huge revenue and conversion opportunity.“ - Sarah Baker, Self Storage Association

The Advantages of Mobile-First  

If you want to implement smart technologies for access and facility management, follow the mobile-first strategy these days. Not only are mobile apps beneficial for tenants since many of the technologies are controlled by mobile phones anyway, but quick accessibility in case of potential problems is also crucial for storage or property management. In case of water damage or if tenants forget to lock their facility or leave the light on, you don't want to wait until the person in charge has logged on to your desktop. Especially for self-storage, the mobile-first strategy can prove its worth. The most important advantages are:  

  • User-Experience: The easier and faster tenants can open their storage, the happier they are. It is also essential to have a straightforward app or platform that is easy to use via smartphone. 
  • Speed: Especially with access control, tenants expect rapid door openings. Even if there are problems, notifications and feedback should be quickly accessible. 
  • Reachability: Notifications or alerts are an important part of smart self-storage, as well as the mobile-first user experience. Asking a question to the landlord via smartphone or sending feedback when something is not working or working very well. Notifications on smartphones are indispensable for communication and the quick resolution of conflicts.  
  • Accessibility: For many people, self-storage is new and smart buildings can also seem intimidating. The mobile-first experience gives tenants confidence in the technology as they are used to mobile phones and smartphones. Also, for facility management, it is not only speed that is important but also the accessibility of having everything at a glance to fix problems and conflicts as quickly as possible.  

Smart buildings, especially self-storages, can benefit from the mobile-first trend. Here, the most important advantages are: Speed, Reachability, User Experience and Accessibility.

Mobile-First Experience In Self-Storage

Particularly self-storages benefit from mobile-first strategies. The advantages for tenants are obvious. But self-storage providers also benefit from mobile-first. Website speed is important not only for customers but also for search engine rankings. This increases the likelihood that your mobile website will appear at the top of the search results pages and be easier for potential customers to find. Google anticipated this trend back in 2017 and began introducing mobile-first indexing. This mobile-first index ranks websites with advanced mobile features higher than websites that are not mobile-focused. It also allows customers to book a storage box online or easily fill out rental forms online. Apps can also enable facility owners to reach their tenants via push notifications, convenient messages on their phones, tablets or computers. Facilities can use these for a variety of reasons, such as: "Pay your bill!", "Your warehouse opened at 11:11" or "There's a special offer next month."

Mobile-First Access vs. Traditional Locks 

Access control technology in particular benefits from mobile-first. For self-storage operators, it is easier than ever to create digital keys and access storage units via an app. Managing the building is often time-consuming and costly. Creating digital keys simply by app simplifies the booking process, so building managers spend less time worrying about handing over keys, and satisfies customer needs, as direct access to the building can be guaranteed without the hassle of handing over keys. There are further advantages for tenants: Traditional keys can often only open one door. With digital access control, several doors can be opened easily via app, using only a smartphone, which you usually have with you anyway. Opening doors and locks via smartphone also offers the advantage that you cannot lose the keys. If the smartphone is lost, the old access is blocked and a new one is created. If conventional keys are lost, it is often costly to install new locks. In addition, there is a high-stress factor associated with this, which is eliminated with smart access via app.

In summary... 

Mobile-first is a trend many search engines like Google already have on their screens. Yet many businesses need to catch up. Mobile-first makes everyday life easier for self-storage owners, managers and tenants. Thus, self-storage tenants can access their personal belongings faster and customer satisfaction is increased.