by John Curnow
It all started with the remote control for the TV, this is where we became addicted to being able to point and click. ‘I’ll have it now, thanks’ became a virtual mantra for two generations and if we weren’t expressing it out loud, we were definitely thinking it!
Giacomo Mauri, Rob Neal and Juan Mauri hiking hard on the Viper 640
Mauri Pro Sailing has really helped us with this addiction when it comes to all things related to our nautical passion.
Now whilst you may not be sitting in front of your screen, or Smart Phone for that matter, and the part or item of apparel you need just magically appears in your lap, it will be there PDQ. Perhaps in one day, depending where you are on the globe, and certainly averaging within four to seven.
Mauri Pro website - shop by brand
So here’s the clincher. If you buy enough kit, $500 worth to be precise, you won’t have to pay for delivery worldwide, either! Wow. That’s some service, which for Mauri Pro is just the icing on the proverbial cake, when you choose to deal with them.
They have made it their mission to provide multi-lingual help for whatever you may need.
Don’t believe it? Well here’s a recent example.
A sailor was looking to buy a block and had the part number. Simple enough, you say.
On the mauringprosailing.com site, the photo of the block appeared with the shank pointing down, which simply did not compute with the particular shopper in question.
Live on the chat room with the Mauri Pro team, who were at pains to point out that no matter which way you looked at it, it was indeed the very same block and it did the required job, no problem.
This particular point was not getting across, so finally Mauri Pro got their webmaster in, turned the image of the block upside down on the site, asked the person to refresh their screen and Voilá, a sale was completed.
Behind this wonderfully funny story is a very real scenario, as it turns out.
How do we get over the touchy feely aspects related to the purchase of all tangible items in this great digital frontier?
Stop for a second and consider the block, wet weather gear, shoes and then there’s the intangible components, such as warranty.
A hardware item has a catalogue number, specifications and you can measure it and order away.
Apparel of all types have all of those too, but there is one extra variable involved. You. And of course, that is the greatest one of all and only you really know you.
The intangible elements like warranty are not really that different from the bricks and mortar version we’re all used to, so there’s no real issue involved. We rely on things like previous experience, references from others and length of time in existence.
With Mauri Pro you’re talking ten years in operation now and they have become quite the dominant force in the online marine binary world. Indeed with some brands, Mauri Pro is the biggest on the planet. Finally then, there are the manufacturers’ warranties, which are no different to any other purchasing method.
Mauri Pro is the brainchild of Juan Mauri and they certainly are very excited about the future of online retailing. However, before we get into all that, let’s take a look at from whence they cometh and what many a sailor, from a range of countries have come to know and utilise on an increasing scale.
Juan was born in Peru and sailed Sunfish as a kid. As a teenager, he was into Lasers and J24s. Now the biggest growth market currently for sailing may well be South America, but back then it was a very different scenario.
At any rate, when he was 30, Juan got the opportunity to work for a sail maker in the USA, which he did, before getting Mauri Pro Sailing online in 2003, which made them one of the very first to be in space, solely as an online retailer.
Juan explains ‘At that time, almost every online store was part of a brick and mortar store. We started the website in 2001 as a way of selling sailing services and then it grew into the big online store that everybody knows today.
‘Obviously when I look back and see our store from 2003 it looks really different, but the Internet itself has also come a long way in these last ten years. Social media didn’t even exist at that time.
‘Anyway, everyone seemed to know that they would need a website, but not everybody understood that they would also need to be proficient at e-commerce, which is something else again. I would say we were one of the earliest to really focus 100% on the online business.
‘There were a couple of really good companies that were doing mail order and another one that was a brick and mortar store that also had a good website, but none of them where 100% e-commerce stores’, said Juan looking back on a very interesting decade.
‘I think our real strength is that we understand the need for our website to be easy to navigate. ‘The fact that for every application, let’s say something like a traveller, you can find six or seven parts that will match your requirement. That’s kind of confusing, so what I think is our strength that we put it in an easy format for sailors to find the products that suit their particular application or need.
‘It is not only that we know and understand how to sail, but also because we have gone from being the customer to being the seller, we have both sides of the story.
‘Additionally and despite globalisation, we still come from many, many cultures on this planet. Within the group we have people from an Italian background, me from Peru, the USA and now we also have a Canadian, so we really do understand the cultural needs for the different parts of the planet, plus the needs of a sailor from a browsing perspective.
To us, it is all about how to search and stay on top of that game. Our strength stems from our ability to understand the Internet as a way of selling products and the need from the sailors to find them easily. We have a big team for technical support, which we offer for free, regardless of whether you are buying the item(s) from us or not’ Juan explains.
The Mauri Pro Sailing chat service, as per our friend with the block, is used extensively because it is easy for everybody and one operator can help two or three customers at the same time.
Now whether it is by phone, email or chat, Juan points out that one of their most popular requests is, ‘Hey. I just bought this boat and my traveller needs an upgrade.’
Juan then further emphasises the Mauri Pro sales platform. ‘Understanding where they are going to sail, how they are sailing, their skill level and whether it is somebody who has just retired and they are taking to the seas for the first time, versus somebody who has been sailing for 30 years, they are going to approach their boats and their projects very differently.
‘I really think that is what makes separates us from all the other businesses around. We continue to stress that we provide sailing solutions and are not just selling parts!’
‘I don’t think there is an unusual place we sell to, but sometimes there certainly is an unusual call!
Boaters from 101 countries that have visited Mauri Pro online, Not bad when you consider there are 196 on the planet and they are not all large. There was one example of a small landlocked country in Africa, where the entire countries fleet is serviced by Mauri Pro – that is the three Lasers sailing on a small lake.
As it turns out, a lot of what Mauri Pro does is help sailors completing long distance cruising. ‘Sometimes we get a phone call from the middle of the ocean and then we have to figure out what is the best place to ship that parcel, so that they can get it on time and be able to connect with either local riggers or other service that can help them to not only get the parts, but install them, so that the customer is not stuck in a place for months, not only trying to find someone to help, but then also get the parts delivered without waiting for weeks.
'I’ve mentioned it before, but because we come from different places we understand the nuances and we may speak the language as well as our own mother tongue and it really does help a lot.’
Mauri Pro can easily cope with five languages and manage in many others, too. For instance, Juan can understand Portuguese when it’s spoken slowly (is obviously fluent in Spanish) and they freely admit they use Google translate when something weird comes up. They stress that their willingness to do it in the first place is yet another one of their differentiating traits.
Mauri Pro’s Jonathan McMillan, trimming the spinnaker in a Viper 640
Another and somewhat dichotomous aspect to all this, are the relationships Mauri Pro has with key suppliers. It also goes a long way to explaining the vertical integration that is a key to their success. They are among the major sellers of brands like Harken, Lewmar, Ronstan, Facnor furling systems, Henri Lloyd, SLAM, Zhik and Spinlock. Of particular note here is Gill, as Mauri Pro are probably their largest online only retailer, worldwide!
‘You do need a certain amount of infrastructure and people around the world to build a proper network. For example, if I need to sell something to Argentina we have the connections there to help us out.
‘It’s also a matter of pride for us to be spending time with our suppliers. We don’t wait for them to train us, we go to their places to train.
‘With Harken, for instance, we make at least two visits a year to their manufacturing facility, just for the purpose of learning new products and how to better assist customers with all their Harken needs.
‘We spend time a lot of time with Lewmar, Gill, Spinlock, Henri Lloyd and SLAM.
‘Our connection with our suppliers is really strong, which allows us to sometimes pull some strings and thereby help customers with weird requests’, Juan commented.
OK. Now before we all worn out after having read this lengthy tale, we’ll take a break and return for Point and Click with Mauri Pro Sailing – Part II.
In that, we’ll get to see what Mauri Pro has been up to with their own sailing and what you can look forward to, in the online world over the next couple of years.