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Brief Published: 4 Apr 2019

The Conservatory: Physical Store Unlocks Exclusive E-Shop

The Conservatory

Upscale fashion boutique The Conservatory hides behind a lush flower-covered entrance within NYC’s latest shopping mall, Hudson Yards.  The physical store reflects the brand’s unorthodox retail strategy: fans are required to visit in-person in order to access the brand’s online shop.

The Conservatory’s retail model is based on cultivating a sense of exclusivity – a club of in-the-know consumers – but if you want to buy from the brand, you have to begin at Hudson Yards. This strategy echoes innovations including check-in systems we discuss in Omni-Commerce Gets Personal and limited-access stores highlighted in the Badge of Brand Honour section of Brand Spaces 2019/20.

Instead of letting new customers preview stock online, shoppers speak with a sales associate who creates an online customer profile/account. It’s only after this interaction that shoppers can access the ‘hidden’ e-commerce site.

Shoppers without an account can only preview a list of the 50 designers The Conservatory carries online. There’s a mix of well-known labels, including Italian fashion brand Jil Sander, as well as under-the-radar brands such as French artisanal haircare brand Bastide, and Dutch menswear brand Salle Privee. This limited-viewing strategy encourages IRL (in real life) exploration and underlines the importance of its bricks-and-mortar presence.

Despite its emphasis on the physical store, the brand’s e-commerce component, which is powered by technology developed by multi-brand fashion e-tailer Farfetch, acts like a matchmaker between featured brands and customers. Consumers purchase directly from the brand that makes the item, and The Conservatory receives a commission (although it’s unclear what percentage it takes). The brands available via the e-commerce site receive data about customers’ shopping habits; these insights can then be used to improve sales and marketing strategies.

For more on Hudson Yards, see our NYC Retail City Guide from April 2019.