High Streets Initiative · 19 October 2017

N.Peal –  Customer service is unsurprisingly vital for this cashmere brand

A high quality of service is maintained across N.Peal's platforms
A high quality of service is maintained across N.Peal’s platforms

For any business selling a premium product, creating the right environment for sales is key. N.Peal is doing just that through its physical and digital offerings.

Having discovered the approach jewellery company Taylor & Hart is taking to build both a digital and physical retail presence, the second outing of our video-based “bricks and clicks” series features luxury British cashmere brand N.Peal.

Unlike Taylor & Hart, which was established only a few years ago, N.Peal is 81 years-old. Throughout its long history the brand has remained synonymous with quality clothing and accessories, and is a household name in traditional British cashmere – even James Bond wore an N.Peal sweater during his latest outing in the hit film franchise.

The brand’s flagship store opened in the Burlington Arcade – Mayfair’s famous high-end shopping area – and N.Peal has since gone on to set up a presence in London’s Knightsbridge, Sloane Street and Piccadilly. Just last year, the retailer opened two more locations, on Brook Street and in Covent Garden.

Owner Adam Holsworth explains N.Peal’s online strategy

As a traditional British brand, N.Peal has mostly kept a loyal customer base. However, during certain periods it has nonetheless struggled to modernise as the company attempts to attract younger generations of customers.

One of the main tasks facing Adam Holsworth when he bought N.Peal in 2006 was how to transfer the brand’s signature in-store characteristics, namely its unwavering high standards of customer service and top quality products, into the online realm of the digital shopper.

Business Advice sat down with N.Peal’s owner and chief executive to find out more about his online marketing philosophy, and how he’s managed to make the brand’s digital offering equally as appealing as the service its customers receive when they visit physical N.Peal stores.

“You’ve got to take a step back and think ‘how do I make that customer service element of the brand just as special online’?” Holsworth explained to Business Advice. “How do we make consumers feel as important as they do when they visit a store? It’s essential that translates to the online experience.”

N.Peal's Brook Street store
N.Peal’s Brook Street location

To match the style and quality of service Holsworth demands in each of N.Peal’s London stores, he set about creating an ecommerce site that was visually striking, as well as functional.

As he put it, the purpose of a retailer’s website should be to offer “another form of theatre” online, and that simply maintaining a functional ecommerce site put unnecessary limitations on a brand.

“There can be costs involved with creating a top-quality online experience, but they’re worthwhile,” Holsworth admitted. “The mistake many retailers make is to view their online platform as a purely functional part of their business. Actually, you’ve got to make that customer service equally as good as the service you’re providing in-store.”

Maintaining the same quality of service across both physical and digital platforms is a business maxim that filters down from Holsworth to all N.Peal staff.

Whether they’re new starters or they’ve been with the company for ten years, employees receive regular customer service training, which focuses on the needs of online consumers just as much as those customers the staff meet face-to-face in-store.

The training of staff in each N.Peal store is slightly different – tailored to the specific type of customer each location typically sees. However, according to Holsworth, it’s important that all staff are taught the brand’s overarching principles – no matter what their role is or where they work.

“Creating a great customer experience is first about creating a shopping environment in which customers feel comfortable, and that’s as true online as it is in-store,” Holsworth went on to say.

N Peal 2
Customer service is tailored to each store

“Online customers tend to be younger and more fashion savvy, for example, whereas in-store customers tend to be more conservative. In understanding the nuances, it’s essential we carry on speaking with our customers, even after they’ve walked out our door or purchased something online.”

The transition to an omni-channel approach to marketing, investing time and resources into the brand’s digital platform alongside its physical shop floors, hasn’t always been straightforward for N.Peal.

Holsworth explained that as a high-end retailer that’s renowned for its history and traditional values, welcoming ecommerce, and the different type of customers that it brings, has sometimes felt unnatural.

But, by continuing to bring the brand’s marketing strategy back to the quality products N.Peal has become famous for – making the cashmere the focus – Holsworth has successfully managed to steer N.Peal towards becoming a popular online brand as well as a popular high-end London high street label.

Missed the first in our video-based “bricks and clicks” series? Catch up here: 

Taylor & Hart – Hyperlocal marketing helped this jewellery business increase in-store sales

This article is part of a wider campaign called the High Streets Initiative, a new section of Business Advice championing independent and small retailers by identifying the issues that put Britain’s high streets under pressure. Visit our High Streets Initiative section to find out more.

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest from Business Advice.


 
TAGS:

ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.

Q&A

If you’ve found the article above useful, but have a more detailed and bespoke question, then please feel free to submit a query to our expert. We at Business Advice will get in contact with them on your behalf and arrange for a personalised response. These questions and answers will then be collated on the site for any other readers who have similar queries.

Ask a question

From the top