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Changing the face of chandleries: An interview with Thinkboat

Yachting Pages spoke to James Bland, general manager of new online chandlery, about how their exciting developments will change the face of chandleries as we know it. 

1) When was your business founded and what was the idea behind it? was founded in 2014 as a new venture into the marine and superyacht industry. The idea to create Thinkboat first came around in 2013.

All the team involved had vast experience of marine products and how they are used in the real world. We feel that good quality advice can be more helpful than simply just buying an item. Therefore Thinkboat evolved into the website it is today with over 8,000 products listed and growing everyday.

We also wanted to address the failure for marine websites to recognise the importance of having a mobile-ready website. Tired of pinching at the screen trying to make it scale or even worse, pages failing to load altogether. We are very proud of our mobile website on both smart phone and tablet, because after all, it is not always practical to use a laptop or desktop anymore.

2) How has Thinkboat developed over the years?

As a new company we are still finding our feet and discovering who is either struggling to acquire what they need or receiving a very poor service in trying to do so. Buying from Thinkboat is a very personal service and we encourage people to contact us if the product is unique or is deeming hard to find.

3) What makes you different from your competitors?

We don’t see ourselves as having direct competitors. Yes we hold generic chandlery products and items that others sell, but we see this as our baseline. We specialise in products such as Konig, Halyard and Williams Jet Tenders. We are now the first to have a full online electronic catalogue of Williams parts and accessories with great knowledge of the product to match.

The supply of the Williams Jet Tender parts online is a market that we would like to play a very strong part of - working closely with the guys at the factory, we hope with their backing we can help provide a great service even to the most remote locations.

Having spoken to friends within the crewing industry, I have learned that the heavily used brand Konig, which is used for surface repairs and touch ups, is only available in two locations across the Mediterranean. We very much want to make people aware we can ship this product worldwide without having to go to Rome or Barcelona.

4) Are you working on any new developments at the moment?

Our newest up and coming feature is the Thinkboat blog. Still in development, this will offer hints and tips throughout the year on things such as product application, uses, demonstrations and reviews. We hope to have this up and running over the next couple of weeks.

A second feature of Thinkboat is our ‘Quick Quote’ function. This gives the user the ability to fill out the given questions and even upload a photo to help us quote on singular or multiple products. Let us do the hard work and find you the best price and availability possible.

5) What are the biggest challenges that you face in the superyacht industry at the moment?

As a new company, it is hard to spread the word about the products we offer and the benefits of buying from us. We can ship to France from just £18 and Spain including the Balearics from only £26 on a three to four day delivery up to 30kg. Although we aren’t on the doorstep, we will make sure your package arrives when we promise it will.

6) Have you noticed a difference in the industry since the recession? 

Due to our startup date the rescission hasn’t affected us, but being in the marine industry for a number of years, I have seen the decline in the leisure market. I think this has now turned the corner and we hope to have a brilliant first year of trading. 

7) What are your top tips for people thinking of ordering from 

My top tip for ordering from us is to pick up the phone. We are always willing to help you find what you need and discuss a discount scheme to reward you for using us regularly or buying in bulk. Due to the high movement of most superyachts finding a time window can be difficult. Don’t risk missing your parcel; we will always do our upmost to get it to you when you most need it.

8) What is the most bizarre client request you’ve received?

We had one order that was just for a single box of long reach matches. I’m looking forward to our next bizarre request.

9) What are the current trends at the moment?

Due to winter fast approaching, customers are becoming more concerned with preparing their boat for the cold months ahead. Products such as heaters, dehumidifies, storage oils and cleaning products are of high interest especially surrounding the UK market.

10) What superyachts have you worked with that you can share?

Our most recent client was the new Oceanco Project 710, yet to be named, specialist surface repair and cleaning products.

11) Are you attending any upcoming boat shows?

We are concentrating heavy of securing our place in the marine market firstly online to grow a presence, but we very much look forward to exhibiting at upcoming shows in both the UK and Mediterranean. 

12) Who would be your dream client?

I hope that one day we can supply clients such as superyacht Eclipse. However to have a Thinkboat package arrive on board any yacht is a pleasure, no matter who the client is or the size of the boat.

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