How To Create The Perfect Shipping Container Retail Space

Learning how to create the perfect retail space in shipping containers is growing increasingly popular as business owners search for a more flexible and cost-effective option to start, or build a retail empire.

We are all shopping in different ways, and the UK high street as we know it is diversifying. This is largely thanks to the growth of online shopping, and a growing trend for supporting local, independent businesses.

Converting shipping containers into commercial spaces is something we have been doing at Budget Shipping Containers for some time. The average shipping container is 20ft or 40ft in size, so you have to be a little more creative with the space available for the storage and display of your merchandise.  Let’s take a look at how to create the perfect retail space inside a shipping container.

Shipping Container Doors and Shutters

Personnel Doors vs. Cargo Doors

With limited interior space, you may want to avoid doors that open inwards.  You could instead choose a traditional personnel door that opens outwards.  Or you could keep the original double cargo doors that are on the end of the container.  These doors swing outwards to open up the entire end of your container, allowing plenty of space for customers to see directly inside your retail space from the outside.  Not many shops are able to offer that!

Tunnel Containers

Why not take your cargo doors up to another level and consider a tunnel container?  Tunnel containers have double cargo doors at both ends, enabling you to open both ends of the container.  This 20ft tunnel container is a good example of what you can expect, 40ft tunnel containers are also an option if you need more space.  We can also source high-cube tunnel containers which provide additional ceiling space too.

Side-Opening Shipping Containers

Side opening containers are another option. Side opening shipping containers are fitted with one huge set of side doors that span the full length of one long side of a shipping container (and a single set of end opening doors too).  This allows optimum access to the inside of your container whilst bringing in plenty of natural light too.

If you don’t have enough space for fully opening doors, why not consider a full side-opening roller shutter?  You can still open the entire length of your container without the issue of enormous doors getting in the way!

Watch our short video to see one of our 20ft Shipping Container Roller Shutter Conversions in action.

Shipping Container Serving Hatches

A roller-shutter serving hatch is a great option if you want to serve customers without them entering your container. Perfect for takeaway outlets or pop-up bars.  A bit like this Shipping Container Ice Cream Kiosk we discovered at our local country park.

This article on Shipping Container Doors offers further information on all options available for access into your container.

Shipping Container Shelving

Storing or displaying your stock is key in making the most of the space in your shipping container.  For storage, we can offer a range of shipping container shelving and racking options that you can browse online here.

To optimise display space inside your shipping container, you can design your own custom shelving which can be fitted by our conversion team, or you may prefer to do this yourself.  Either way, we can advise you on the options available.

This case study of one of our Shipping Container Bar Conversions gives an example of the shelving and bar space that can be installed into your container.

Extend Your Space

A shipping container is a compact space but there is always the option of extending your retail or service area with outdoor seating. This can be covered with a roll-away awning, or for larger areas, you could consider a Shipping Container Canopy.

Container canopies can be erected atop any original 40ft shipping container and double-stacked containers.  They provide cover for outdoor space and can be used for temporary or semi-permanent requirements.

This video shows our shipping container canopies in action:

Modular Container Stacks

If outdoor space isn’t an option, why not extend your container space upwards? Modular containers can be stacked on top of each other to create multi-storey spaces.  A shipping container staircase can add access and you are using half of the ground space needed than if your containers were arranged alongside each other.

This Custom Built Multi-Use Container Sports Pavillion gives a great example of how stacked modular containers can be used to create retail or hospitality service spaces.

Container Retail Parks

Fancy conducting some market research? Shipping Container Retail Spaces are a growing trend across the UK. BOXPARK now has several sites across London and was one of the original container shopping concepts.  Whilst HATCH Manchester is another award-winning food, drink, and retail destination created from used containers. Both have definitely paved the way for others to follow and show how a diverse collection of retail and hospitality container businesses can work together to create a fantastic retail experience.

Create Your Perfect Shipping Container Retail Space

Budget Shipping Containers can help you source the right shipping containers for your retail business. We can also provide custom conversions so you can create the perfect retail space for your project. offer the UK’s largest online range of shipping containers for sale with a nationwide network of storage and conversion yards and crane equipped delivery vehicles.

If you need a shipping container feel free to browse our online range of shipping containers for sale, which also includes our ranges of flat pack sheds, container canopies and more. You can also call us on freephone 0808 1234 215 any time 9am – 7pm weekdays and our team will be happy to discuss your requirements. Alternatively, you can use our online shipping container quote form or request a telephone callback. In both cases we aim to get back to you within 1-2 working hours (may take longer for more detailed quotes).

Back to top