Mailspeed Marine Have the Wind in their Sails
The UK's top mail-order chandler is picking up the pace in its ecommerce operations. Find out why we think they're a business to watch
Posted by Killian McAleese, 8th September 2011
The last few years have not been great for chandlery businesses. The global recession of 2008 and 2009, for example, saw the leisure marine industry as a whole perform worse than average in the already troubled UK economy, with a 6.2% fall in total revenue, and employment across the sector suffering.
But rough trading conditions and stiff competition on- and offline haven't stopped Mailspeed Marine from rising to the top of their game and becoming the UK's largest mail-order chandler.
Based in Crawley Down, West Sussex, the business sells marine chandlery and electronics, sailing clothing and footwear, dinghies, outboard engines, fishing equipment and plenty more besides. Selling is done largely online and by mail order, with a trade counter from which purchases can be collected.
In terms of competition, a very small amount of research reveals a large amount of UK chandlers in the ecommerce marketplace, by mail order and in physical stores, so the question is: how do these guys manage to stay at the top?
Mailspeed Marine started life in 1981 and as such boasts a long tradition of customer service, competitive pricing and after-sales care.
Needless to repeat that this endeavor has flowered into a successful enterprise. Business sense and social media savvy have certainly played a part in it, but there are also increasing signs that Mailspeed Marine is very much a business on an upward trajectory from an ecommerce point of view.
The company's blog has been updated regularly with an eclectic mix of nautically themed posts for almost a year now. The site, www.mailspeedmarine.com offers live chat customer support, and over the past summer saw the addition of a slew of new features, including a prominent clearance section, Google +1 buttons and Facebook comment functionality for all stock items.
They've been using Facebook and Twitter in earnest to draw attention to various offers and promotions on their online store, with their Facebook page already drawing over 2000 likes. Further potential signs of ecommerce growth can be seen in a call for affiliates and the company's apparent growth of its ecommerce team.
One of the things we always watch out for on or associated with on an ecommerce site is a rich variety of channels through which a business speaks to its customers. We've already noted the social media use of Mailspeed Marine, but an additional feature we particularly like is the Boating Guides section. Entirely separate from the blog, regular posts here offer advice and product reviews on all things salt and fresh water, including fishing equipment, waterproof gear and engines.
As with several of our featured ecommerce sites, Mailspeed Marine serves something of a niche market, but that shouldn't stop non-boaty types from having a look. Niche it may be, but an ecommerce enterprise with great offers on practical and stylish outdoor and marine clothing surely has something for everyone.
This is apparently a responsive, fast-moving business. It will be very interesting to see how things develop.
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