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5 Innovative Ways Small Businesses Use Shipping Containers

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The building and construction industry has seen a rise in new building and architectural forms—shipping container structures. The sustainability movement has reached small businesses alike, living by the standards of reuse, reduce, recycle. And one of the ways in which engineers, architects, and small business owners are aiming to reduce waste is by reusing shipping containers.

There’s no denying the convenience, speed, and versatility that building with shipping containers brings. And the most pressing advantage of it all is their cost-efficiency. Because of all the advantages that come with using shipping containers, there are many ideas that come to light as to how they can be modified for use by small businesses. If you’re looking for inspiration, here are five innovative ways small businesses use shipping containers.

  1. Pop-Up Shops

There seems to be this trend that small business owners do before setting up a permanent shop. They aim for a pop-up shop first, like a shipping container pop-up cafe, to serve as a trial run to assess their business’ feasibility. If they aim to continue after seeing it’s profitable, the pop-up shop can easily be converted into a more permanent structure, with little modifications only. This fact makes shipping containers a cost-effective option for small businesses that are still low on cash.

Also, a shipping container pop-up store is mobile. You can easily transfer it from one location to another if you’re hoping to set up your store in another location.

  1. Hotels

If you want to start a small hotel in your area, having shipping containers as your main structure for all of your rooms may be a good idea. However, when setting up your shipping container hotel, you have to work with a contractor that knows how to deal with shipping containers. Especially if you intend to stack two to three layers of shipping containers for the rooms, you need to ensure the structure is strong and secure enough. 

When all these are settled, you can proceed to think about the design. You can transform these shipping containers into stylish structures by making unusual but sensible designs out of them. Aside from providing attraction, you also get to give your guests the unique and exciting experience of sleeping in a shipping container.

  1. Medical Store

Doctors sometimes run businesses that serve their patients. Apart from their clinic, they also offer products, such as dental products in the case of dentists or beauty products with regard to dermatologists. Another example is an ophthalmologist who displays lenses and frames for sale in their clinic.

If you’re a doctor planning to set up a small business to sell medical items, using shipping containers may be a good choice. The reason for this is the portability of these containers. Whenever you want to move your store, you can do so anytime and with ease.

  1. Coffee Shops

When you walk into a coffee shop, the first thing that may captivate you about the place is its ambiance. A good way to elevate that feeling is by building a coffee shop out of shipping containers. 

These containers are cost-effective. So you can enjoy versatility when designing your coffee shop. You can stack them in almost any layout you want and customize them to bring an overall comfortable vibe to the place.   

When you can create the right interior design, along with some pleasing and artistic furniture, you’re sure to have a visually attractive coffee shop worth photographing. All those social media posts from your customers who visit your coffee shop would already serve as your ads.

  1. Offices

Office spaces are costly nowadays. As a small business trying to minimize costs as much as possible, it’s important to be more mindful about where you’re spending your money on, especially when building your office space. If you can minimize the costs spent on the structure so you can have good office equipment and supplies, why not go for that option? Utilizing a shipping container may be your answer to that.


With the cost of construction increasing over the past years, it’s not surprising at all how small businesses need to think out of the box and go for other options. If building your store from the ground up is too expensive for you at the moment, a practical alternative would be to use shipping containers. 

There are many ways shipping containers can be utilized for small businesses. The list above contains only a few ideas, but they may be good enough to get your creative juices flowing. Whatever the kind of business you intend on setting up, a shipping container can be a good choice for your initial small business structure.

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