Paxton & Whitfield: Site and Channel Optimisation on Shopware

Paxton & Whitfield is the UK’s leading cheesemonger with a rich heritage that dates as far back as 1742 where Stephen Cullum first set up a cheese stall in Aldwych market. 

The business grew from strength to strength achieving a Royal Warrant for every monarch since Queen Victoria in 1850, surviving both world wars and several changes in ownership. Paxton & Whitfield is now in its third century of trading and it shows no signs of slowing down.

"A gentleman buys his hats at Locks, his shoes at Lobbs, his shirts at Harvie and Hudson, his suits at Huntsman and his cheese at Paxton & Whitfield.” - Winston Churchill

Today, Paxton & Whitfield has standalone stores across England, with the flagship store based in St. James, the heart of London, as well as a fast growing ecommerce business.

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Our partnership with GPMD was perfectly timed for the pandemic. We worked together as a virtual, remote ecommerce team to react in an agile way to the rapidly changing online trends. I’m proud that we were able to support our artisan cheesemakers through the pandemic, by significantly increasing online sales. We brought innovative new selections to our customers; brightening their lockdown with online tastings, new cheeses to discover and thoughtful gifts to send to family and friends. It has been such an intense year for our team, both personally and professionally, however we’ve learned and achieved so much at the same time.
Jenny Brown, Head of Marketing


Paxton & Whitfield’s reputation and quality of its artisan cheese and fine food is strengthened by its wealthy heritage and royal warrants. The challenge was translating this quality into its online offering. The team partnered with GPMD in 2019 to help improve a number of areas on the online side. With Covid hitting in 2020, things ramped up with the key areas of focus becoming: 

  • Optimisation of checkout and payment methods
  • Customer retention and focused email campaigns
  • Extending the integration into the ERP/EPOS (eureka) to free up marketing resource
  • Increasing the average order value and helping customers with pairing recommendations through “Shopware Bundles”
  • Agile adaptation of the online product range to suit the “Covid” Climate
  • Bringing the cheesemonger to the customer for those who could no longer travel to shops 
  • Enabling single-day despatch items and pre-orders to help manage fluctuating stock levels

Ultimately, the team chose to optimise these areas of the website to help increase overall online sales, thus allowing them to focus on the long-term growth for the business, which extends beyond the website. The goal has been to achieve a unified and seamless experience for its customers, while providing the first-class customer service customers have come to expect.

Working with GPMD to optimise for growth, Paxton & Whitfield has seen:

Increase in Revenue
Increase in Traffic
Revenue Generated by Email
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Whilst building its online presence on Shopware, Paxton & Whitfield 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.

GPMD also enabled Shopware Product Bundles for the Paxton & Whitfield team which allowed pairing recommendations to up-sell with each cheese. Significant sales increases were seen on lines which had been bundled and customers appreciated the professional advice on what best to pair with each cheese.  

Paxton & Whitfield released 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. 

Paxton & Whitfield NPS Survey Nov 2020: "In lockdown virtual learning can be a chore but this ‘lesson’ certainly isn’t! You learn about the cheese and the producers which makes it feel very Artisanal. Combine date night with Cheese - what more could you want?"

Using the single-day despatch functionality built by GPMD, Paxton & Whitfield launched limited edition experiential cheeses such as Hand-Truffled Brie, which was an instant sell-out and now a regular feature in the online shop. This functionality also enabled Paxton & Whitfield to release monthly cheese collections for Jazz FM, Scala FM and Magic Radio - these were despatched on a single day which streamlined the operations of hand-cutting and wrapping each of the cheeses for these boxes. 

GPMD launched payment methods Stripe and PayPal in the Paxton & Whitfield checkout. This streamlined the checkout process instead of customers being diverted to an external payment partner page to make payment. PayPal now represents over 25% of total payments on the website. Paxton & Whitfield’s average payment fees reduced by launching on Stripe and PayPal vs. their previous payment solution. 

Together with GPMD, Paxton & Whitfield set up comprehensive analytics both for its online store, as well as its email marketing, provided by Klaviyo, and optimised its email targeting strategy. Some examples of how Paxton & Whitfield use email marketing are abandoned cart emails, as well as Net Promoter Score surveys.  

Through the NPS surveys, issues were quickly picked up on and solutions were put in place to improve the Net Promoter Score again. It was through this NPS survey that Paxton & Whitfield also realised how much their customers valued the eco-friendly 100% sheeps’ wool insulation that they were trialling. Despite the additional cost of this insulation, Paxton & Whitfield rolled it out across all mail order parcels from Christmas 2020 as part of their drive for sustainable sourcing. 

The Tech Partners Behind The Brand

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Further Reading

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