What happened: A practical, if unexciting, concept has entered China’s rental economy since last year: self-serve lockers. Baoxiaocun (包小存) has placed lockers across several higher-education campuses in Nanjing. Lockers can be opened via QR code or WeChat mini-program, and are rented out on a daily, monthly or yearly basis.
Why it’s important: After the perceived success of “shared bikes,” other rental concepts have proliferated in China’s market, some of them more practical than others. Now, as even giants like ofo struggle to make a profit, the fervor for rental products has cooled somewhat. The low-maintenance nature of self-serve lockers may revive entrepreneurs’ interest, especially since they hold less potential for vandalism and abuse. According to the founder, the market for storage is currently wide-open, with students representing just one segment of potential users. Thanks to a low initial cost, the lockers can reportedly begin returning a profit in around ten months.