After trying to sell my surplus K2 for two months without any success, I was starting to think it was a hopeless exercise.
Then a friend referred me to a new classified site for paddling gear, kayaksandskis.com.au. The site sports some new technology, a clean design, a fresh look, and best of all it’s FREE! (unless you want a premium listing).
Most surprisingly for me, a day after I posted my first ad, I got a call from Kieran Babich, who runs the site, asking me about a problem he’d spotted with my ad. A problem he’d spotted? Now anybody who’s dealt with the other local classified sites, and been unlucky enough to need help, would probably be surprised to have somebody calling them, so I have to say I was intrigued.
So intrigued in fact, that I asked Kieran if we could do a short article about the site. He was happy to answer our questions and even threw in a special discount offer for our readers.
Kayaksandskis.com.au… Quite a mouthful Kieran, what are you setting out to do?
KayaksandSkis is designed to be the place that paddlers identify as their online classifieds. We want to connect sellers of paddles, ocean skis, racing mals, K1’s, sea kayaks, etc, with buyers of these craft and paddling gear.
Who is the site aimed at?
Paddlers. Whether you call yourself a life saver, sea kayaker, ocean ski paddler, marathon paddler, sprint, or recreational paddler. We aim to help connect paddlers who want an easy and effective way to sell their paddle gear to other paddlers who want an easy way to search for their ideal gear.
Are you aiming to address a gap in the market, or replace something that isn’t working as well as it could?
Definitely. There was a need for a functioning, secure, and easy to use paddlers classifieds. There was also a need for the paddling retailers and manufacturers to have a way to show off their stock in a broader market place. I think KayaksandSkis does this well and we will continue to improve on the service we deliver to serve our users.
The setup and categories in the site search suggest you’ve spent a bit of time in paddle sports. What’s your background? Tell us about Kieran Babich.
My background in paddling started when I was about 20 and won a Meek Paddle in a lucky door prize at a multisport competition in Albury where I was studying. As the story goes they didn’t want to give me a $600 paddle to go with my plastic kayak I had at the time. So Matty Flower, from Mitta Mitta Canoe Club, who delivered the paddle was told not to hand it over unless I started training with them.
From there I got into the local whitewater scene, worked for a rafting company, did some sea kayak trips and had a miserable Bass Strait attempt. I also did a stint making sea kayaks for an Aussie manufacturer.
But the whole time I kept up marathon kayak training and spent last year paddling around Europe in the Marathon World Series.
I’ve recently taken up ocean skis since moving back to Sydney.
How do you see the concept developing? Are you aiming to be the eBay of kayaks and skis?
There are plans to grow the KayaksandSkis service but they are definitely not towards an eBay style of business. I think eBay is flawed for paddlers because we are usually selling a quite expensive item. If you use eBay you lose a fair amount of money to them with their commission, whereas with us you do not lose or spend a cent. I see KayaksandSkis providing value to paddlers in other ways, and being innovative about how it covers its costs to stay free and managed for its users.
How long has the site been going?
It has been up since Australia Day 2015, so about 3 months. Although it’s been about 15 months of development and user testing to get it right.
How many boats are for sale on the site right now?
245. However, the real number that should count is the 387 ads we’ve had since starting. I believe this is a better indicator of how many boats we’ve helped move in 3 months.
How many people are browsing the site each week?
There are more than 1300 paddlers each week plus a fair bit of other traffic from users. It’s early days and we are still getting paddlers to know about us.
You’ve attracted a few commercial sellers. How has the site been received by kayak businesses?
I think quite well. I haven’t had anyone say ‘no’ to the service we provide so far. They are all quite supportive of it, and it’s in their interest to be as well. It is cheap advertising directly to their target market. It should be noted here that kayak businesses are responsible for making KayaksandSkis happen for the greater paddling community as their small subscription fee pays for the running costs of the website for the use of the wider paddling community.
Is the site complete, or are there still more changes in the pipeline?
There are a number of features which we will be rolling out as the website hits certain milestones. These are designed to increase the user experience and make it easier to sell your gear or find new gear.
Are you open to suggested changes from buyers and sellers?
Yes. We’ve already made several changes since starting thanks to user feedback and are always looking for new ways to improve. Just like when you paddle and someone gives you a technique correction. You make a judgement and adjust your technique accordingly. The same goes for this website.
Obviously a selling site needs buyers to know it exists to work. How do you see that developing?
Word of mouth is how I see buyers getting onto the website. From the feedback so far many of the sellers are actually buyers waiting to offload a kayak or ski before buying another and they have found it easy to buy off the website. I think many people will be in the same boat.
Are my personal details safe with you? Will you be marketing to my email address or selling it to third parties?
Your details will be about as safe as your details are with an online bank. We have no intention of ever selling any details to anyone.
One of the criticisms leveled at other sites is the number of spam and illicit postings that they attract. What makes kayaksandskis.com.au different?
We are actively managed. We want you to be able to send the juniors and nippers from your clubs to the our website and know that they will see ads for kayaks and skis and nothing else. Our website is running off some of the latest software which allows for a greater filtering of ads to keep them as just paddling gear.
We’ve also seen classified ads attracting fake buyer scams, where a scammer offers to buy my boat if I can prepay the courier fees before pickup. Can you offer any advice to thwart these scammers?
This is a part of any online classifieds. However, KayaksandSkis believes that education here is the best way forward for its members. If it doesn’t sound right, it probably isn’t. So trust your instincts.
We highly recommend you do not to use Western Union style transfers of cash, as you cannot get your money back from these very easily. For all transactions between our site users we recommend writing a receipt for all exchanges with a signature from the seller. This is to keep it somewhat above board.
Do you have any offers to encourage new sellers or buyers to your site?
For the readers of the Sutherland Shire Canoe Club page, you can use this code “shirekayakers15” to double your ads gallery size to 12 photos. This is valid until 1st of January 2016 so go nuts with the camera and get every detail of the kayak or surf ski.
Finally, what’s the sites address?
Thanks Kieran, and good luck with your site.