5 shipping container business ideas to consider in 2023

July 13, 2023

Here in Australia, shipping containers are being used for a wide range of purposes. From their core role of transporting goods from one place to another to container homes, the versatility of shipping containers makes them an extremely practical option for a huge range of projects.

They can also help to keep costs down. Whether it’s cutting back on rent for an office or finding a cheap alternative when it comes to a portable site office on construction sites, we are seeing more and more businesses investing in shipping containers.

They are also a sustainable option. Built to last for 25+ years, their strength and longevity make them a great option, even when buying second-hand.

That’s why so many businesses are turning to shipping containers as a viable and cost-effective solution. There is so much you can do with a shipping container and the fact that they come in a huge range of size options and configurations means they are highly customisable. From the smallest 6ft containers to our largest 40ft high cube shipping containers, we have lots of options available, both for sale and for hire.

You might not have thought about the option of using a shipping container for your business in the past, however, plenty of thriving businesses have. Here are five of the best business ideas for shipping containers this year – hopefully this inspires you to think outside of the “box” and consider a shipping container as an alternative workspace.

1.     Mobile Restaurant

Whilst this might seem like a bold move, setting up a mobile restaurant using a shipping container is easier than you might think. Investing in a new restaurant is expensive. You have to locate some premises where the rent is typically astronomical, and then invest thousands of dollars to fit the restaurant out, both front and back end.

If you are located in a holiday destination, this can mean that your foot traffic can be seasonal, with lower demand in the off-season which can put a strain on your business, as well as make staffing difficult.

A shipping container restaurant is a flexible alternative. You can use the mobile restaurant to relocate in peak and low seasons, helping to drive foot traffic all year round. You can also test out new locations without committing to a permanent location move.

A mobile shipping container restaurant also gives you options to work on temporary project-based contracts such as film productions or major sporting or music events.

2.     Café or Coffee Kiosk

A shipping container cafe at a park

Similar to a shipping container restaurant, a café or coffee kiosk is a great way to utilise the versatility and mobility of a shipping container.

With the ability to fit out a shipping container with power and plumbing, you can easily modify a container to act as a kiosk for selling coffee, ice cream, pastries, and more. Whether you want to expand the space and add seating to make an indoor/outdoor café, or you want to keep things simple and modify one of the smaller-sized shipping containers to create a kiosk where people can take away, there are lots of options with a shipping container.

Like the shipping container restaurant idea, you can also move locations to suit seasonal demand or to cater for events or projects. This makes a shipping container café or kiosk extremely appealing and is something that can be set up relatively cheaply, helping to keep your business set-up costs low.

3.     Retail Shop

A retail shop is perhaps one of the most popular uses of a shipping container for businesses. Whether it’s a permanent store or a pop-up shop, business owners looking to expand, either in size or into new locations are utilising shipping containers as a cost-effective way to measure the demand for their products or services and determine whether it is worth investing in a permanent store location in a town.

Of course, there are now many cities that are investing in shipping container retail villages, and this offers a more permanent solution where similar businesses can come together in a modular village made up of shipping containers. Here you will find all kinds of retail stores along with cafes and restaurants.

These types of developments are often driven by city councils attempting to revitalise declining high streets or attract people to newly developed parts of a town or city.

Here in Australia, destinations including Canberra and Busselton Jetty have invested in shipping container villages and there are small-scale examples in towns and cities throughout the country.

Of course, shipping container retail stores can stand alone and don’t need to be part of a wider infrastructure. They can be used at events or as a temporary store in high season to drive additional revenue for businesses.

Whether you are looking at a permanent retail space or a pop-up store, shipping containers are a great option.

4.     Yoga Studio

Yoga is booming throughout the world and here in Australia is no different. The demand for yoga classes and yoga retreats is booming and as more and more people train to deliver yoga in their communities, the space to practice yoga is in high demand.

From community halls to leisure centres, yoga requires enough space for people to be able to spread out and carry out their poses and stretches without feeling cramped up.

Often the cost of renting space in a leisure centre or even a community hall can be expensive and eat into any potential profits for yoga instructors and that’s where shipping containers come in.

If you have enough room at home, you can install a shipping container and build your own yoga studio in your backyard. This will help to keep your costs down, reducing your travel and limiting your overheads.

Using a shipping container as a yoga studio also allows you to fully customise your space. Leisure centres and community halls are multi-functional spaces and don’t always create that calm and relaxing vibe that yoga enthusiasts crave.

Creating your own tranquil yoga studio can really help you to stand out from the competition, creating a calm and inviting environment in which to deliver yoga classes.

5.     Pop-Up Bar

Pop-up bars are a great way to utilise a shipping container, especially if you live in a holiday destination and seasonal demand changes. Pop-up bars using a shipping container also tend to work really well during the summer months when you don’t need to worry as much about keeping your customers warm and dry.

With a shipping container, you just need the space to install the container and an additional outdoor area where you can add tables, chairs, and sunshades and voila – you have everything you need for a pop-up bar.

Of course, you will need a space to install fridges and a place for beer kegs if you plan to serve beer on tap, however, with plenty of size options available, you can easily find a shipping container to meet your needs.

Popular right now are craft beer pop-up bars – a great way for breweries to sell direct to the consumer and get their new craft beers out to the market.

If you go with one of the larger, open-sided shipping containers, you also have the option for indoor and outdoor seating which can make a pop-up bar appealing, no matter the weather.

Shipping container bars, like cafes and restaurants, can also be mobile, making them a great option for festivals, sporting events, and other large-scale events. If you can transport your shipping container bar, you open up lots of new opportunities to take your bar to your customers rather than them coming to you.


Shipping containers are a great option for businesses looking to expand or for those looking to start a business. From shipping container offices to food trucks to coffee shops, the options with shipping container modifications are fairly limitless and with some creativity, you can really create a unique business idea that will help you to stand out from the crowd.

Shipping containers are great for seasonal businesses, helping them to keep agile and to move locations if required or to simply keep costs low in the off-season.

Shipping containers are a budget-friendly alternative to renting space in a permanent structure as well as being ideal for small businesses.

If you are interested to learn more about the possibilities for shipping container businesses in Australia, talk to the team at OZBOX today and we will be happy to let you know about our wide range of shipping containers for sale and for hire.

Need help choosing the right container?

Get in touch with us today

Get in touch

You may also be interested in