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Guide to Customizing Shipping Containers for Commercial Business

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In today’s rapidly evolving world of entrepreneurship, business owners constantly seek innovative solutions to meet their distinct operational needs. One such solution that has gained tremendous popularity recently is customizing shipping containers for commercial businesses.

Initially designed for transporting goods across the seas, shipping containers have now found new life as versatile and cost-effective spaces for a wide range of commercial applications. From trendy pop-up stores and vibrant food outlets to creative workspaces and mobile clinics, these steel giants have become a canvas for businesses to unleash their creativity and establish a distinctive brand identity.

This blog will explore the exciting world of customizing shipping containers for commercial applications. Whether you are a budding entrepreneur looking for an affordable retail space, a forward-thinking restaurateur seeking a mobile food establishment, or an innovative startup needing a flexible office environment, we’ve got you covered.

Southwest Mobile Storage employees customizing shipping containers.
At Southwest Mobile Storage, our team of fabricators can help you customize a shipping container for your commercial business.

Custom Shipping Containers for Commercial Use

Let’s dive into the endless possibilities offered by container customization and discuss the various modifications that can transform steel shipping containers into functional and aesthetically appealing workspaces, retail outlets, hospitality venues and more. From insulation and electrical installations to plumbing and interior design, we will explore the process and considerations involved in repurposing shipping containers to meet your business requirements.

Below are a few steps to consider when customizing a shipping container for your commercial business:

Conceptualize Your Design

Determine the purpose and layout of your commercial space. Consider factors like the size of the custom shipping container, the number of rooms or sections required, and the overall aesthetic you want to achieve.

Are you looking for inspiration? Our gallery page showcases our modification capabilities and offers various shipping container ideas.

Find a Suitable Container

Start by sourcing a shipping container that meets your requirements. Always select a reputable container company like Southwest Mobile Storage. Consider factors like size, condition, and structural integrity when choosing a container. Ensuring the container is in good condition and suitable for modification is crucial.

To learn more, check out our Guide to Understanding Shipping Container Grades. If you’re just getting started, look at our What Type of Shipping Container Do I Need? blog.

Work with a Professional

Use a professional fabricator for your container customization. They will help you navigate the design process, ensure structural integrity, and address building code or zoning requirements.

At Southwest Mobile Storage, our team delivers consistent quality and swift turnaround by custom building multiple projects in our 90,000 sq ft fabrication facility. Our certified welders, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, engineers, painters and fabricators have years of combined experience in container modifications.

While other companies may have some staff able to modify containers, most will outsource, so you don’t know who is doing the work or how much markup is involved. At SMS, our team has modified thousands of containers worldwide for over 25 years.

This two-minute video highlights How We Modify Shipping Containers the Right Way.

Plan the Layout and Functionality

Determine how to divide the interior space and create a floor plan that optimizes functionality. Consider the placement of doors, windows, partitions, electrical outlets, plumbing, and HVAC systems.

With SMS, you can rest assured knowing your custom container is safe in our hands. Our team of quality control inspectors ensures everything is built to your specifications. We still have your back even after your custom container has been delivered. Our full-service staff can do maintenance and quick modifications at your location if needed.

Add Electrical, Insulation and Climate Control

Custom shipping containers are made of steel and can get hot or cold depending on the climate. Proper insulation is essential to ensure a comfortable interior environment. Choose insulation materials that offer thermal efficiency, such as spray foam or rigid foam insulation.

Want to learn more? Our blog shows you how to Choose the Best Shipping Container Insulation. Or, learn How to Connect Power to Your Container. Not a big reader? Watch this three-minute video on how we Customize 20ft Shipping Containers with HVAC, Electricity, Insulation and More.

An SMS welder customizing shipping containers.
Our custom container modifications include adding doors, windows, skylights, HVAC and electrical capabilities to a standard shipping container.

Custom Shipping Container Add-Ons

At SMS, we can fully customize the inside of your container to suit your needs. Simple add-ons, shelving, desktops and filing cabinets provide an ideal workspace, and adding things like doors, windows, ventilation, overhead lighting, insulation and HVAC helps make the space more comfortable for employees and customers. We like to say, “If you can dream it, we can build it.”

Our team of fabricators stands head and shoulders above the competition when it comes to modifying shipping containers for commercial use. To learn more about how we do it, look at our recent Shipping Container Modifications with an SMS blog post.

Another popular modification is adding custom paint and branding to the outside of your container. All Southwest Mobile Storage containers are painted beige to blend in with the surroundings. However, you can customize a container with your company’s colors and logo to match your marketing scheme.

Don’t underestimate the power of custom painting your storage container. It’s not just about appearances. The benefits of custom painting extend far beyond aesthetics. It makes your brand stand out in a crowded marketplace. By harnessing the potential of your shipping container’s exterior, you unlock the ability to leave a lasting impression on passersby and generate valuable leads.

Security and Safety Measures

Steel shipping containers provide excellent security for your items inside. All SMS containers are wind and weather-resistant and feature a multi-point locking system. Our containers have a four-bar, eight-cam locking system with a hidden shackle puck lock for extra security.

With a modified container, you can also implement added security features like motion sensors, alarms, and surveillance cameras to protect your business.

Is security a priority for you? This blog goes in-depth on How to Keep Your Container Secure.

Transportation and Logistics

Plan how you will transport the container to your desired location. When you rent or buy a container from Southwest Mobile Storage, it will be delivered to your preferred location at the best time. To know what to expect when getting an SMS container delivered, check out this blog and video on How We Drop Off Containers.

To learn about container pickup procedures at SMS, look at this blog and video about How to Prepare For Your Container Pickup.

Have more questions? We probably answer it in our Container Delivery and Pickup FAQ blog.

A custom shipping container with detachable sides. The container has been mounted to a wheeled chassis.
From simple modifications to elaborate designs, you can rest assured that your vision will come to fruition at Southwest Mobile Storage.

Benefits of Customizing Shipping Containers for Your Business

Customizing shipping containers for your business offers numerous benefits. Here are six key advantages:

1. A Cost-Effective Solution

Shipping containers provide a cost-effective alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar construction. Customizing containers are generally more affordable than building from scratch or leasing commercial space. These cost savings can be especially beneficial for small businesses or startups with limited budgets.

2. Mobility and Versatility

Shipping containers are made for transportation. You can quickly relocate your business or temporarily operate in different locations. This flexibility allows you to explore new markets, attend events or trade shows, or respond promptly to changing customer demands.

3. Quick Setup and Scalability

Customizing shipping containers for your business can significantly reduce setup time. If your business needs to change or expand, you can quickly modify or add containers to accommodate your evolving requirements.

4. Brand Visibility

Customizing shipping containers provides an opportunity to showcase your brand and attract attention. You can apply your company logo, colors, and graphics to the container, turning it into a mobile billboard. This increased visibility can help create brand recognition, generate buzz, and draw potential customers to your business.

5. Sustainability

Repurposing shipping containers for business use is an environmentally friendly option. By utilizing existing containers, you reduce the need for new construction materials. Moreover, recycling containers helps prevent them from becoming waste. Many customers also appreciate businesses that embrace sustainable practices, which can enhance your brand image.

6. Reduced Maintenance Costs

Shipping containers are designed for long journeys at sea, so they are built to withstand wear and tear. They typically require minimal maintenance compared to traditional structures. With proper care, like regular cleaning and inspection, shipping container modifications can last many years, reducing maintenance expenses.

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