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Paul Smith: Creatively Designing Customer Relationships?

Welcome to episode 35 of PostFunnel’s Seven CRM Commandments series, where we get to Paul Smith.

The British fashion designer – mostly famous for its quality of clothes and unique combinations of pattern and color – was made a Royal Designer for the Industry in 1991.

But is Paul Smith making customers feel like royalty? Let’s start checking.

Be Transparent 10/10

AD spoke to the iconic British designer, Paul Smith, on some very real matters as he recently celebrated his 50th anniversary in the fashion industry.

“It’s more important than ever to have a point of view and a point of difference. It’s also important to know your customer well. I still love to go to my flagship shop on Albermarle Street in London on Saturdays and work on the shop floor. It’s the best way to meet my customers and get to know what they want.”

Paul Smith is and always has been open, honest, and authentic with customers and fans. His foundation offers the best advice to help young designers learn how to take their “ambition to the next level.”

And here’s what he has to say on decision making:

“Over the years, some of the decisions I’ve made have been not that wise, and probably some of the staff would think, ‘Oh gosh, I wish he’d not done that.’ I’m not autocratic, and I do try to get opinions, but at some point, you have to make a decision because you can’t keep beating around the bush. You have to say, ‘We’re stopping that for the time being. And let’s think about it.’”

As customers, we usually forgive mistakes if brands behave transparently. And Paul Smith surely is.

Incentives and Perks 10/10

The first banner on the brand’s HP is the following 50% discount offer.

Throughout our customer journey when analyzing the brand, the newsletter signup offer below appeared.

Also, Paul Smith is currently having a Men’s AW20 sale.

Finally, the brand offers customers the ability to shop with gift cards.

That’s enough promotions to get a perfect score here.

Be Relevant 10/10

When searching whether the brand states/acknowledges the COVID-19 pandemic and if/how customers may be affected when shopping – we found the following text written on their Shipping & Returns Policy:

“Due to recent Covid-19 Tier changes, we cannot ship Interior items available in our shops. Once you place an order, a member of Customer Services will be in touch to confirm shipping details as we find out more from Government updates.”

In fact, the brand has updated its FAQ page to add an entire COVID-19 update section.

The brand also acknowledges that customers are likely to make returns after the holiday shopping season and updated their returns page to say:

We also noticed that the brand has Click & Collect shopping options when browsing the site.

Furthermore, Paul smith has altered its product offering to help customers during this challenging year by creating a “Shop now. Pay later with Klarna.” option.

Here’s how it works:

“We’re excited to announce we have partnered with Klarna to bring you new ways to pay at checkout. It’s a safe and simple way to get the stuff you want when you want it.”

Finally, the brand has a virtual personal shopping experience, perfect for customers who are in-and-out of lockdowns due to the pandemic. It’s excellent in that customers can book a virtual appointment with a Paul Smith stylist – all from the comfort of their home! (More detail on this in the UX commandment below)

We don’t think any brand we examined so far checked ALL THE BOXES here as Paul Smith has.

Be Helpful 10/10

The brand is on a “path to sustainability”.

In addition, and what we found unique to this brand, is the following “modern slavery statement” which reads:

At Paul Smith, we are absolutely committed to preventing slavery and human trafficking in our corporate activities, and to ensuring that our supply chains are free from slavery and human trafficking.”

The page goes on to detail how their business, supply chains, policies, and distribution methods ensure there is no modern slavery or human trafficking. Their employees and recruitment practices have no risk of slavery and human trafficking, too, and Paul Smith even provides a full statement confirming their due diligence on the matter.

Finally, in recent news – Paul Smith reflects on his new foundation and legacy after 50 years in fashion. The article details the interview with the fashion designer – which includes info on the Paul Smith foundation that invests in young artists. Paul Smith also funds a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Arts.

“The idea is that [the foundation] will provide advice for creative people, whether you’re a young graphic designer or a chef, even,” Smith said. “Over the years, we’ve had so many people come to this building thinking that they want to be a fashion designer, and I say, ‘It’s lovely to be a fashion designer, but it’s a very oversubscribed job.’ My approach has always been to demystify the job and make it more understandable and, in a way, more accessible.”

Realtime Personalization 2/10

In case you didn’t notice – the brand did not drop a single point in the first four sections of this analysis. This is unprecedented.

Unfortunately, this is where the streak ends – as, in a similar fashion to most of the brands we analyzed, they too are behind the curve when it comes to realtime personalization.

When entering the website, we were able to choose our country/region, as shown below, to get a more personalized shopping experience.

When adding a white dress shirt to our bag, no cross-sell principles or upsell techniques were used by the brand whatsoever – too bad!

Though the following similar item suggestions were suggested when scrolling down the same page, when going back to the brand’s HP, nothing was altered to suit our product of interest –men’s dress shirts and coats.

Finally, when logging off the brand’s website and hopping on to our Facebook and Instagram accounts, no realtime retargeting efforts were made by Paul Smith.

Master UX 10/10

Alright – and we’re back to the perfect tens!

The first impression we got from the brand is that it has a simple, clean, and refined user interface and design. Navigating and browsing through the different categories is easy and fun.

The colors and the look-and-feel are excellent for the brand and reflect the retailer’s unique fashionable offering.

Also, when adding items to our cart, we were presented with an overview of the product including what it’s made of, how to care for it, sizing, shipping, and more – all very convenient for the modern online shopper.

The Paul Smith online shopping experience with a personal stylist, mentioned above – is clearly the cherry on top of a perfect user experience. What can be better than an in-house stylist helping a customer find what they’re looking for – just like a brick and motor shop? Virtual appointments are available Monday to Friday and to book one, customers need to fill in a form and choose an appointment time up to 2 weeks in advance.

Leverage Social Media 7/10

The brand has over 850K likes on Facebook, 150K followers on Twitter, and 425K on Instagram.

They post the same type of content on all three social networks mentioned above –mainly promoting their latest collections and offers.

Here and there, they add a touch of seasonal flavor:

And a bit from Paul Smith, himself:


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Paul Smith (@paulsmithdesign)

Seems as if the brand is strictly sticking to fashion on social media – which might be intentional, but perhaps missing on the power of these platforms to push the bigger-picture agendas the brand promotes.


Overall, and even with the low score on the personalization section, Paul Smith is getting a 59/70 here (84%), placing them in 6th place. Brilliant work!

Clearly, the brand’s communications are very much aligned with what is expected of brands nowadays. But still, like most of the brands on our list below – Paul Smith is definitely lacking personalization as far as their CRM practices go, and customers deserve better here. With a solid 8/10 on personalization, they would be ranked first!

You can read more on personalization here and here.

Here are the full rankings of all the brands we analyzed to date:

  1. Pets at Home 91%
  2. Lowe’s 90%
  3. Petco 90%
  4. Target 87%
  5. Uniqlo 86%
  6. Paul Smith 84%
  7. Vrbo 83%
  8. N Brown Group 81%
  9. West Elm 81%
  10. The North Face 81%
  11. Holland and Barret 80%
  12. lululemon 80%
  13. Brooks Running 79%
  14. Best Buy 78%
  15. Nando’s 75%
  16. Etsy 76%
  17. The Body Shop 74%
  18. Gymshark 73%
  19. William Hill 73%
  20. Essence 72%
  21. Iceland Foods 71%
  22. Total Wine & More 70%
  23. Tommy Hilfiger 70%
  24. Walgreens 70%
  25. Kohl’s 70%
  26. United Colors of Benetton 69%
  27. Buy Buy Baby 68%
  28. Fiverr 67%
  29. Next 63%
  30. Patagonia 61%
  31. Express 60%
  32. Burberry 60%
  33. Zara 59%
  34. COS 57%
  35. Dream11 53%

We publish a new analysis every week, so watch this space for more brand analyses coming your way!



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