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Generally speaking, buying a shipping container is a good idea if you’re likely to use it a lot or have more specific needs. That said, there are exceptions to this. Let’s break down the pros and cons in more detail, so you can make the best decision for your needs.
If you regularly use a shipping container or need one for a long period of time, buying can be more cost-effective.
You can also recoup some of the costs if you ever decide to sell the container.
When you own the container, you can modify it to better meet your needs. For example, you can insulate it, add electrical outlets or paint it with your company’s branding.
The initial cost is significantly higher compared to renting a shipping container.
Maintenance costs can add up, with structural repairs being particularly costly and time-consuming.
You’ll need somewhere to store the container when it’s not in use. This can become a significant recurring business expense, especially if the container only sees seasonal use.
Hiring a shipping container can prove cheaper if you’re only planning to use it occasionally, but that’s not the only reason to rent. You’ll also have greater flexibility and fewer maintenance tasks on your to-do list. Let’s explore the pros and cons.
It’s often cheaper than buying, unless you’re using the container regularly.
You can rest assured that the shipping container will always be in good condition, meaning you won’t have to schedule your work around repairs or worry about stock becoming damaged in transit.
Maintenance and storage costs will be lower or non-existent.
You’ll always be able to select the ideal container size or type, whether it’s a 45-foot sea storage container or a six-foot office-cabin container. This can be particularly useful if you have varying needs, e.g. your shipment sizes fluctuate significantly. You can reduce your costs by ensuring the container is always the ideal size and type.
Long- and short-term rental contracts are available.
If you often hire shipping containers, you might find that the accumulative cost is higher than if you bought one.
You can’t permanently modify the container to meet your specific needs (although you may be able to make some temporary changes).
In periods of high demand, you could struggle to get hold of less common container types.
Depending on your location, you may have to pay a premium for container deliveries and returns.
The price might fluctuate over time, especially if you’re renting containers abroad and in different currencies.
For most businesses, the choice between hiring and buying comes down to usage levels. If you often use a shipping container, then buying one can be a good investment. You’ll be able to modify it to better meet your needs, plus it becomes a company asset. On the other hand, if you use a container infrequently or will need to store it for extended periods of time, then renting can be more cost-effective and free you from maintaining and storing the container.
However, it’s not always a clean-cut decision. In fact, some businesses combine hiring and buying to ensure they can always respond agilely to changing demand or market conditions while keeping costs low.
For example, you could buy one or several storage containers to meet your typical demand, but then hire additional ones during peak periods. Similarly, you could buy the storage container you use most frequently, while hiring other types of containers on an as-needed basis. The right decision will depend on your business strategy and how consistent your storage container needs are.
Still not sure whether you should hire or buy a shipping container? Have questions about the process and pricing? Our team of experts can talk you through the options and recommend the best route for your business. Contact us today.