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Case Study: How Wilkinson Sword are Leveraging Swanky’s Expertise as a Full Service Ecommerce Agency

Find out how international shaving brand Wilkinson Sword have been leveraging Swanky’s expertise as a fully integrated ecommerce agency to bring their D2C vision to life. Including details on their significant dual-brand migration from WooCommerce to Shopify Plus, bespoke multi-store deployment process, Recharge-powered subscription service, and email marketing strategy.

Written By
Hannah Smiddy

Wilkinson Sword: Brand overview

British-born razor brand Wilkinson Sword, whose blade-making prowess spans 250 years, became a household name thanks to its cutting-edge shaving products. Bringing “good old-fashioned precision engineering” to grooming routines across Europe, its products are famous for their distinct combination of style, innovation and practicality.

Whilst traditionally catering for men’s shaving needs with razors, trimmers and shave care, the business’ Intuition sub-brand is targeted at women, with products including razors and dermaplaning tools.

These products are available to buy directly from Wilkinson Sword’s ecommerce store, or via several established retailers both online and in-store. Their D2C website ships to the UK, France and Germany.

The challenge

Previously, Wilkinson Sword hosted their ecommerce site on WooCommerce. Frustrated with a store that was complicated to manage and swallowing up valuable development resources, they began weighing up alternative platforms.

In the words of Ben Ford, Ecommerce Manager at Wilkinson Sword during the project:

“The main reason we wanted to move away from WooCommerce was to have more control over changes to the website. WooCommerce is great in that you can customise a lot of things, but it’s difficult to make changes without the help of developers.”

With no clear user journey for women on its WooCommerce store, it was also important to better incorporate the Intuition brand on the new Wilkinson Sword website, as Amy Dougan, Senior Project Manager at Swanky, explains:

“On the previous website, the top half of the homepage was dedicated to men’s products. We were able to identify through heat map and data analysis that female users were exiting the site quickly because of this.”

Why migrate to Shopify Plus?

After comparing the costs and features of various enterprise solutions, the Wilkinson Sword team landed on Shopify Plus as the platform that best fit their needs.

“With Shopify, we understood that we’d have more freedom to do things ourselves,” explains Ben.

“The platform is a lot more cost-effective too, especially for a brand of our size that’s European-wide. It’s also really easy to expand into different countries using Shopify Plus.”

Shopify Plus has quickly become the platform of choice for an increasing number of multinational enterprise brands like Wilkinson Sword. Flexible, scalable and reliable, it allows fast-growth brands to seamlessly manage the complexities of modern commerce and deliver compelling customer experiences without an army of developers.

How Swanky helped

Following a recommendation, the Wilkinson Sword team reached out to Swanky. Having completed countless migrations to Shopify, and with over a decade providing consultation, development and growth services for international brands like HelloFresh, Huel and Symprove, we were well positioned to bring Wilkinson Sword’s D2C ecommerce vision to life.

Migration

Our team of experts got to work migrating Wilkinson Sword’s existing website from WooCommerce to Shopify Plus, creating three country-specific stores (more on this below) that would not only provide customers across Europe with a smooth online experience, but also put control and flexibility back in the hands of their ecommerce team.

Matrixify was a key tool in the replatforming process, facilitating the exporting and importing of all product, customer and order data.

All three sites launched at the end of May 2022.

International site structure

This was a significant migration from a single-store setup to multi-store setup. On WooCommerce, Wilkinson Sword used a single domain with subdirectories for their country-specific stores. However, they identified a need for three individual stores for optimal dispatch and fulfilment efficiency.

We created separate Shopify Plus stores for the UK (.com), France (.fr) and Germany (.de), using country code top-level domains (or ccTLDs).

This sort of structure can give merchants greater control and flexibility in their approach to each individual market, especially if they have different products, price points and promotions across each region, like Wilkinson Sword. ccTLDs send clear geolocation signals to search engines, so are an effective way of telling a search engine which country you’re targeting. And, since the target country is clearly apparent in the URL, they can give site visitors more confidence and encourage more click-throughs. This structure also offers an effective way to rank for keywords locally.

You can read more about international site structure in our comprehensive guide to cross-border commerce.

Rethinking multi-store management

Whilst a multi-store structure can be more complex to manage, and therefore come with higher maintenance costs, we developed an innovative back-end solution to streamline the deployment process and reduce the complexity of managing multiple stores (for both the Wilkinson Sword team and Swanky).

Jamie McCleave, Lead Developer at Swanky, explains more:

“We architected what we believe to be a unique solution that enables Wilkinson Sword’s multiple Shopify stores to be managed from a single code base. Instead of having to maintain multiple bases and update each one independently, changes are automatically pushed from the master store to the regional stores – creating huge efficiency gains and targeting a common pain-point amongst international Shopify merchants.”

Dual brand design

To better incorporate the Intuition sub-brand into the online store, we implemented a female-specific navigation to direct users to women’s products. The Intuition part of the site uses the same types of sections, but with a different colour palette.

“We executed some unique solutions to switch the store between the men’s Wilkinson Sword range and women’s Intuition range using metafields and cookies,” explains ProjectManager Amy.

“Using Shopify 2.0, we created men and women’s designs for each Section. We then used metafields to assign a page style to these sections (i.e. male or female). When new pages are created with either the male or female metafield, the correct style is pulled in. The ecommerce team at Wilkinson Sword can choose whichever sections they want for a new page, and be confident that the designs of these sections will reflect the right brand identity.

“Using Cookie Pro, users to the site will automatically be directed to the relevant version of the homepage on each return visit, based on which version they visited on their first visit.”

Men’s homepage design

 

Women’s homepage design

Subscription

With our experience and expertise in delivering best-in-class D2C subscription solutions, we were well-placed to consult on the implementation of Wilkinson Sword’s “subscribe and save” offering.

We integrated leading recurring payments solution Recharge, which powers repeatable transactions for some of the most successful subscription brands across the globe.

Subscribers pick their blades, choose their desired delivery frequency and enjoy 15% off each order. Plus, they can amend, pause or cancel anytime, with flexibility at their fingertips.

“It’s very easy for customers to pause or cancel whenever they want. They can do this from their account, rather than having to phone customer service and make any changes that way. I really like the way Recharge puts control in customers’ hands,” explains Ben.

As referenced in our guide to successful health and wellness subscription websites, giving customers full freedom to edit their subscription according to their personal needs shows that you’re committed to empowering your customers. By allowing them to take complete control of their subscription and grooming routine alike, you can encourage loyalty and prevent churn.

Email marketing

As well as leveraging our expertise in ecommerce migrations, internationalisation and subscription, Wilkinson Sword engaged Swanky’s digital marketing specialists to manage their email strategy.

Having already seen great results during their time using email marketing platform Klaviyo, the focus for our team was on optimising their existing flows.

“We’ve been using Klaviyo for about one and a half years now and have been enjoying some really strong results,” said Ben. 

“The segmentation feature is great for identifying who our VIPs are and understanding who’s most likely to open and engage with our emails. Flows are really easy to set up, too. One of our best performing emails is our automated sunset flow, which provides customers who haven’t engaged in a while with a discount code, encouraging them to come back – it works really well.

“We wanted to leverage Swanky’s experience and knowledge to improve what was already a high performing channel for us, making it even more effective.” 

What does the client think?

Whilst it’s currently too early to share any results from Wilkinson Sword’s migration to Shopify Plus, we asked Ecommerce Manager Ben him what his favourite aspects of the new site are:

“For me, I really like how easy and straightforward it is to make changes yourself. There’s so much you can do with just the click of a button. It’s very different from, and a lot better than, WooCommerce in that sense.

“There are also so many apps that you can just plug in and start using with very little set-up.

“We’re really happy on Shopify Plus. The lack of issues speaks volumes for what Swanky have done and your experience in the industry.”

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