Self Storage AI

When you think about the self storage industry, you might not associate it with tech and innovation. But two companies are working to change that; Janus International (“Janus”), the world’s leading self storage manufacturer and innovator of the Nokē smart lock technology, and Digital First, the leading global digital agency for the self storage industry. These companies share a vision of a world in which self storage is a real player in the game of technological innovation. They aim to provide self storage operators with actionable insights into consumer behaviours like never before.

Understanding Consumer Behaviour Through Nokē Data

For many, smart locks likely bring to mind the basic function of access. However, in the hands of innovative storage facility operators, Nokē’s data holds the potential for rich insights that can transcend access metrics. With this robust data set, Janus has uncovered a treasure trove of operational insights.

What Sort of Data Does the Nokē System Generate?

Through the operator portal, facility managers can gain access to specific data points including the time, frequency, and duration of visits, both to the overall facility and to individual storage units. This detailed, user-centric data provides a comprehensive snapshot of tenant activity, allowing operators to better understand and cater to their clientele’s needs.

The Challenge

While the Nokē system offers an unprecedented wealth of consumer behaviour data, the sheer volume of this data can present challenges. In this complex data landscape, traditional analytical methods can be prohibitively expensive, potentially leaving valuable insights untapped.

A key objective for Janus and Digital First then becomes developing cost-effective methods to discern meaningful patterns from this data and leveraging them to optimise operational efficiencies, marketing strategies, and user satisfaction. The stakeholders are further motivated by the need to anticipate and adapt to future industry trends and consumer behaviours in an increasingly digitised world.

The Solution

Enter AI. By tapping into the advanced AI capabilities championed by Digital First, operators can glean actionable insights from vast data sets. AI offers dynamic solutions for predicting customer behaviours, suggesting rental adjustments, and flagging potential security concerns.

Robbie Cameron, Director of Search at Digital First, says, “AI allows us to navigate and interpret vast seas of data effortlessly. With Nokē’s data, it’s like having a compass that always points to treasure.”

By blending Nokē’s intricate consumer access data with Digital First’s expertise in predictive analysis, there is potential to optimise operational efficiency. Factors like opening hours, security protocols, and marketing strategies can potentially be recalibrated based on these insights.

The Question

Janus and Digital First are predominantly interested in one overarching question: How can we most effectively synthesise and employ the voluminous data captured by Nokē smart lock technology to deliver actionable insights for operators and enhanced user experiences?
“If we can discern the nuances of user patterns, the implications for predictive service delivery are profound,” says Will DeBord, Director of Product & Customer Experience at Janus.

Nokē smart locks capture data that provides a detailed view into consumer behaviour. By assessing the frequency, timing, and duration of facility visits, operators can ascertain peak activity periods, seasonal variations, and user personas. Such data granularity, when coupled with the efficiencies offered by AI, promises a transformative leap in understanding client needs.

“Data tells a story, and with AI, we’re not just reading that story but predicting the next chapter,” states Chris Oosthuizen, CEO of Digital First and CMO of Stor-Age Property REIT Limited.

What Sorts of Insights Could Nokē Data Unlock?

Duration and Patterns of Usage

Nokē data holds the potential to anticipate patterns of storage unit usage. For instance, differentiating between long-term and short-term users gives a clearer picture of turnover rates and unit availability.

This differentiation also extends to personal and commercial tenants, each bringing their unique usage pattern.

“Understanding these nuances helps operators anticipate demand, tailor their marketing strategies, and optimise facility maintenance schedules,” says DeBord. “We’re on the brink of possibly evolving our operational playbook based on real-time user behaviour.”

By understanding tenant behaviour, especially in localised contexts, storage facilities will potentially be equipped to make near foolproof strategic decisions. If, for instance, the data suggests frequent nocturnal access, might facilities consider extended opening hours?

By analysing facility usage patterns, cleaning and maintenance crews can be efficiently allocated to high-traffic areas. Recognising peak hours and high-demand days allows for precise deployment of on-site customer service and operations teams, enhancing customer experience without unnecessary staffing. Furthermore, Nokē’s system alleviates the burden of routine lock management, enabling operational staff to concentrate on more critical tasks.


Using insights derived from Nokē data, suspicious tenant behaviour may be detected. The granular details of unit door activity potentially allow for prompt identification of anomalies, alerting operators for further investigation.

Demographic Correlations

While the relationship between demographics and access patterns remains in the theoretical phase, could there be insights into how different user profiles interact with storage facilities?

Predictive Models

If AI can employ Nokē data effectively, the models it might produce could be groundbreaking. The ability to predict at what points customers might contemplate a unit shift or anticipate their responsiveness to price changes holds vast strategic promise.

Practical Benefits for Operators

The combined power of AI and Nokē data opens up a multitude of avenues for operators. With predictive insights, operators can anticipate customer needs, ensuring better service delivery and maximising profits. The beauty of this collaboration lies in its fluidity — using Nokē data to feed the AI algorithms, while simultaneously allowing Digital First’s AI-driven insights to further refine and improve Nokē’s technological offerings. In this context, it is worth noting that all data and trend analysis complies with privacy laws.

“We are seeing an increasing number of self storage operators taking advantage of the immense potential that the utilisation of AI and data offers our industry,” comments Terry Bagley, President of Industry & Partner Relationships at Janus.

The Road Ahead

In translating technological and analytical advancements into marketable narratives, both Janus and Digital First have an edge. These organisations have an unrivalled commitment to innovation, consumer satisfaction, and industry growth.

Nakita Bam, Head of Performance at Digital First, highlights Digital First’s focus on demand pattern analysis, stating, “It’s not just about having data, but knowing what to do with it. AI helps us bridge that gap, giving us real-time insights and actionable strategies.”

The integration of Nokē data with AI promises a competitive edge in the self storage market and the future looks promising. With Janus’s Nokē technology providing the foundation and Digital First bringing their AI expertise to the table, the self storage industry stands at the cusp of a transformative era.

In the words of Chris Oosthuizen, “As we further intertwine Nokē’s capabilities with the AI tools in our business, we’re looking at a future where self storage isn’t just about space, but about delivering an unparalleled customer experience.”

Credit: Liezl Gevers

About Digital First

Digital First is the leading global digital agency for the self storage industry. Trading across 12 markets and multiple languages, they’re trusted by clients the world over. Their team of 30+ digital marketing specialists have one mission: to drive enquiries for self storage businesses at the right price.

About Janus International Group

Janus International Group, Inc. is a leading global manufacturer and supplier of turn-key self storage, commercial, and industrial building solutions, including roll-up and swing doors, hallway systems, relocatable storage units, and facility and door automation technologies. The Janus team operates out of several US locations and seven locations internationally.

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