Martin McNulty ForwardPMX

To be like Amazon or not be like Amazon. Is that the question? 

When it comes to fashion and apparel, Martin McNulty, global chief executive of ForwardPMX, a brand consulting and growth-strategy firm, said no. 

“In the apparel space and certainly in the luxury space, Amazon is not your competition,” McNulty said. “People go to Amazon for something they know they want. They go to retailers for something entirely different. Yet, I think Amazon has really defined the thinking that people adopt.”

That thinking, McNulty said, has lead to pop-up stores and experiential shopping and curated assortments. 

“I’m not entirely sure that that’s the salvation of retail,” he said.  

It leads to one of two outcomes, McNulty said. The company either tries to mimic Amazon, and quickly realizes they don’t have the scale to compete. Or, the company or brand will completely reverse course and try to do things the e-commerce giant can’t, like the ubiquitous pop-up shop with experiential in-store moments.  

“I don’t want to say all digital is bad,” McNulty said. “There’s some really good stuff going on. But I’ve had experiences and some of them have been really bad.”

Instead, the ForwardPMX executive, who firm uses data analytics to help companies such as Asos, Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger grow, advised the crowd at the Convene, a workspace in Lower Manhattan, to focus on their company’s DNA and what makes them unique. 

In addition, he added that the ways in which consumers learn about new products has shifted to include things like Instagram and YouTube

Vogue is not the journal of record when it comes to discovering new stuff,” McNulty said. “We live in a new ecosystem. There are bloggers and influencers and microinfluencers and nano-influencers. They’re a real thing and you have to navigate it in a smart way.

“I don’t think it’s a bad thing by the way,” McNulty said. “In the context of retail [we’re asking], how do we capitalize off this?”


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