Paxton & Whitfield, UK’s oldest cheesemonger founded in 1797, has faced many challenges over their 225 year history, including two World Wars, so when the Covid pandemic hit, the business transformed itself and adapted to the new normal.
We spoke to Jenny Brown, Head of Marketing at Paxton & Whitfield to find out more about what they have been doing to create exceptional online experiences that offer the same quality as their offline counterparts and that share the stories behind the cheeses.
Immersive experience introducing cheese and British cheesemaking to customers
It’s all about the experiences and finding a way to relate to the consumer that builds trust and shares the company’s values. Paxton & Whitfield thus focused on creating an exceptional, immersive user experience for its visitors.
Each artisan cheese has a story to tell and the Paxton & Whitfield team focused on bringing these stories to life online through videos of the cheesemongers talking through the cheese on the product pages, lifestyle images of the cheese and cheesemaking process and product copy optimisation. The pandemic hit small British cheesemakers very hard and Paxton & Whitfield really focused its range to support its loyal British cheesemakers who were struggling the most - getting behind industry campaigns such as ‘The British Cheese Weekender’ with a shopping microsite built in Shopware.
Paxton & Whitfield NPS Survey May 2020: "Wonderful produce and nice to support British cheese, great delivery options and great cheese!"
Product Bundles for up-selling led to an improved customer experience
Working with GPMD as their strategic partner, Paxton & Whitfield launched Shopware Product Bundles which allowed pairing recommendations to up-sell with each cheese. Pairings ranged from up-selling gift boxes with giftable collections, to up-selling alcohol such as Champagne with Langres and condiments such as slow-baked Fig Balls with Comte.
Receiving curated bundles and pairing recommendations had a significant impact on the customers who appreciated the professional advice they were given on what best to pair with each wine. Paxton & Whitfield found an accessible way to reach their customers and offer a high quality customer experience despite the lockdown, which led to significant sales increases and high customer satisfaction.
Paxton & Whitfield NPS Survey May 2020: "The cheese box I received from you recently was absolutely brilliant. The cheeses were great quality - very diverse and a real change from what I can source locally. The online tasting and pairing notes were very helpful too. Thank you so much."
Innovative ways to reach the customer with online experiences and experiential cheeses
Early on in the pandemic, Paxton & Whitfield made the bold move to invest into its online presence and close its flagship store. This decision led to the team finding new and innovative ways to reach their customers. The team at Paxton & Whitfield became very flexible and tried out new initiatives like releasing a selection of Online Cheese Tastings to purchase and an Online Cheese Tasting gift voucher. These tastings became their best-selling product during the 3rd lockdown and have proven so popular that these are planned to continue post the pandemic. Another campaign was focused around launching limited edition experiential cheeses such as Hand-Truffled Brie, which was an instant sell-out and now a regular feature in the online shop. Paxton & Whitfield also collaborated with radio stations to release monthly cheese collections for Jazz FM, Scala FM and Magic Radio. These cheese collections were despatched on a single day which streamlined the operations of hand-cutting and wrapping each of the cheeses for these boxes and they were a success with the customers.
Paxton & Whitfield NPS Survey Nov 2020: "This is an absolute delight! Something to look forward to in the gloomy early winter. The cheese is delicious, comes beautifully presented and delivered right on time. Do as we did and order two! Enjoy with Champagne and Charcoal biscuits. One won't be enough!!"
Find out more about Paxton & Whitfield’s story and online success in the case study or read the summary of our panel discussion with Jenny Brown, where she discusses the challenges of the pandemic and additional plans to future-proof the business.