Getting the best deal on a shipping container typically depends on where you buy the container, and the company that you buy it through. Naturally, people want to buy the best possible shipping container at the cheapest price; however there are several catches to getting this type of deal to work. The retail and wholesale markets for shipping containers are very different, and both provide different services and serve different markets.
Shipping containers can either be bought through wholesalers, or retail locations. However, buying wholesale shipping containers isn’t always possible for the buyer interested in a single shipping container. To start with definitions, in the shipping container world a wholesaler would be a shipping line or a container leasing company. Buying through one of these groups often requires being approved as a vendor and details on your tax status. Because of this approval process, many lines and lessors don’t sell directly into the retail market due to the extra work involved to sell only one or two shipping containers to a single buyer.
Furthermore, when you purchase directly from a lessor or line the shipping container will be sold on an "as is" basis. This means that it won’t be cleaned up or repainted, you’ll be getting the container directly out of the fleet. There will be some dents and dings, and it will have the corporate branding of the line or lessor.
Lastly, most wholesale purchases will be a very "hands off" deal. There aren’t many people dedicated to managing the sale of containers for these organizations, and they typically won’t be able to take you to the container yard and show you their inventory. At the very best, they will be able to provide you with an inventory list and you’ll need to be approved to visit the depot and look at the containers yourself (keep in mind some depots do not allow individuals to come in for inspections due to insurance purposes).
To offer a comparison, buying a shipping container may cost a little more, but it will be a different experience all together. Local retailers typically purchase 5 shipping containers at a time, move them to their yard and clean them up. "Cleaning up" means they’re typically washed out, repaired, and repainted. Sure, you may pay a little more, but it can only be expected for the effort involved in cleaning up the container and the added services.
Buying wholesale shipping containers direct from a shipping line or lessor isn’t impossible, but it involves much less customer service that can be expected from a traditional retailer. The containers will be coming directly out of the fleet, are typically at least wind and water tight or better and will have some dents and dings. While they will be less expensive than buying from a retail operation, it’s best to do this if you have some experience with containers or good communication with the agent or broker selling the container.
ContainerAuction.com is an online marketplace for both wholesale and retail container sellers to market their off lease/hire shipping containers for sale to the public markets. To learn more about a specific container listing feel free to contact the seller directly through any listing page, or for general questions on how to get started in the process you may contact the Contianerauction.com staff directly.