Learning from Amazon
A Conversation with Retail and Fashion Industry Thought Leaders on Succeeding in the World of Amazon


Amazon first launched in 1994.  By ten years later it had extended its retail focus far beyond books, targeting the fashion and apparel industry.

In 2015, Cowen and Company predicted that Amazon would displace Macy’s as the #1 US apparel retailer top apparel continuing the playbook that drove their book industry dominance, Amazon is now forcing all fashion and general retailers to very seriously consider the strategies they will need to compete and succeed in this new 21st century retail reality.

On March 30th, The Wharton Retail Network invites you to a thought-provoking and private discussion examining Amazon's history and impact, and the key lessons to be learned and applied to retail and specifically fashion businesses.
  • How do we retain a unique, "Amazon-proof" competitive advantage?
  • How big a factor is Amazon in the Luxury space?
  • How do we retain customer loyalty?
  • What can we learn from Amazon’s success?
  • The event’s panel of fashion and retail experts, all Wharton and Penn alumni, will review and decode the strategies behind Amazon’s extraordinary growth, and suggest competitive options for fashion and other retailers, as well as Amazon vendors, on how to compete with Amazon in their categories.

According to panel moderator Peter Hildick-Smith, CEO of Codex-Group --
"Beginning with their retail book industry dominance, Amazon.com is now one of the 10 largest retailers in the U.S., accounting for 43% of total U.S. online retail sales, with overall annual revenue accelerating past $135 billion. The company’s combination of extreme product selection, dynamic pricing, rapid delivery, integrated digital devices, proprietary entertainment offerings, Prime customer loyalty platform, and expansion into "brick & mortar" outlets, will have a profound impact on every sector of U.S. retailing."

The Panel

Vanessa Lefebvre (C 99), Senior Vice President, General Manager – Macy’s Backstage Stores Division
Current member of Macy’s Senior Leadership group.  Participate in a leadership role on internal strategy tracks to further the corporate vision and plan for Omni-channel, Marketing, and Allocation systems.  The purpose of this is to surface new ideas, push Macy’s forward, identify existing obstacles and potential road blocks, mapping and vetting potential best practices, strategies, and paths of execution.

James Jurney (C90, W90), President, CEO – GROUPE Inc. – luxury fashion retailer and designers
James Jurney (W’90, C’90) is the co-founder and CEO of GROUPE Inc, the first true vertically and horizontally integrated fashion incubator and collective, which launched at 198 Bowery in NYC November 2016.  GROUPE aims to revolutionize the fashion industry by creating a deep retail experience via a direct, emotional connection between designers and consumers, bringing the process of fashion design and creation much closer to the consumer than ever before. Prior to launching GROUPE, in 1998 James, along with his wife and partner Gwendolyn, created and have been managing the brand Seize sur Vingt, the luxury menswear collection which has now been merged into the new GROUPE umbrella.

Oliver Chen, CFA (WG06), Managing Director & Senior Equity Research Retail Analyst – Cowen & Company – Investment Banking and Equity Research
Oliver Chen is a managing director and senior equity research analyst covering retailing/specialty stores, luxury, retailing/broadlines and department stores. Mr. Chen ranked as one of the top three analysts in the retailing/specialty stores sector in the 2014 Institutional Investor All-America Research Team survey and as a runner-up in 2013 with a #3 ranking in New York. He was part of the #2 ranked global luxury goods team in 2013's Pan-European Extel Survey. Mr. Chen was named an Institutional Investor Rising Star of Wall Street Research as a best up-and-comer in the apparel/footwear sector in 2012. Prior to joining Cowen and Company in 2014, Oliver held positions at   Citigroup, UBS, PepsiCo International, and J.P. Morgan. Mr. Chen holds a bachelor of science degree in business administration from Georgetown University, a master's of business administration from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and is a CFA charter holder.

Kinshuk Jerath (GWR08), Associate Professor of Marketing – Columbia Business School – technology-enabled retail expert
Kinshuk Jerath is Associate Professor of Marketing at Columbia Business School. His research is in the area of technology-enabled marketing, primarily in online and offline retailing, online advertising, and customer management. His research has appeared in top-tier marketing, operations management and information systems journals, and he also serves on the editorial boards of several top-tier journals. He has consulted for Fortune 500 companies, has served as an expert in legal cases, and sits on the advisory boards of multiple startups. He received a B. Tech. degree in Computer Science and Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay and a Ph.D. degree in Operations and Information Management from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

MODERATOR: Peter Hildick-Smith (C76, WG81), CEO – Codex-Group LLC, book industry analysts

Peter Hildick-Smith founded Codex-Group LLC in 2004, pioneering book audience strategy research through large sample, quantitative pre-market testing. The firm’s clients include "Big 5" book publishers, national book retailers, authors, agents, international bookseller associations and tech companies –helping each develop consumer-informed growth strategies, platforms and titles. Codex-Group’s proprietary Book Preview, Author Equity and Fan Fulfillment pre-publication market test programs expand audiences, build brands, boost new book discovery, improve book purchase conversion rates and increase sales—supporting the successful publication of numerous New York Times bestsellers.
Prior to founding Codex, Peter was Chief Marketing Officer for GE Capital Global Consumer UK; SVP, Customer Management for GE Capital Retail Financial Services North America. He also held positions with Young Readers, School, College and Library businesses as well as Bertelsmann’s Bantam, Doubleday, Dell division, and Quaker Oats and Kodak.

He holds an MBA in Marketing from The Wharton School, and a BA in Comparative Literature from the University of Pennsylvania, is Editor in Chief of The Wharton Club of NY Magazine, and lives in Sleepy Hollow, New York.

Thursday, March 30, 2017
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Midtown location (Note: Address will be sent via email to all registered guests 24-48 hours prior to the event to the "Primary Email" address listed in your profile. Please review your profile to confirm that the email address listed is correct.)

WCNY Supporting Members - $20.00 (WCNY supporting membership costs $95/yr at Join/Renew Membership)
Silver, Gold & Benefactor Members - $0
Other Wharton Alumni - $40.00

To Register:
To register for this event, please contact whrn@whartonny.com.  Please send one or two sentences about your current position in retail. Events can and do sell out quickly so please register early.
Due to building security requirements, you must pre-register for this event. Walk-ins cannot be accepted.
Registration is subject to availability and will close on Wednesday March 29 at 4:00pm - No Exceptions!