PROFILE

Mohamed Amer

Global Head of Strategic Communications, Consumer Industries, SAP

Living in Southern California, Mohamed joined SAP in 2003 as Solution Manager in charge of global grocery segment within the Retail Business Unit.  Subsequently he led the Supply Chain product area for Retail in the Americas.  For three years he led the Retail Business Unit in the Americas supporting business development, key customer implementations, and relationships as well as managing User Groups and Executive Customer Councils.  Mohamed also led the building and championing of internal and external Retail communities. He is curenbtly the Global Head of Strategic Communications for the Consumer Industries at SAP (Retail, Consumer Products, Wholesale Distribution, and Life Sciences).

Prior to SAP, Mohamed was co-founder and President of NEXstep, an Internet supply chain software startup which was acquired by Viewlocity. He also held leadership positions in the retail management consultancy, Kurt Salmon Associates with extensive Retail and CPG client engagements as well as general management roles in the office products industry at Boise Cascade and Buhrmann Tetterode.

Mohamed held a commission with the US Navy (Lieutenant Commander – naval aviation and naval intelligence) and has earned an MBA at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, an MA in National Security Affairs at the US Naval Postgraduate School, and an MA in Human and Organizational Systems at Fielding Graduate University.

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  • Posted on: 09/20/2016

    Why did Walmart buy Jet.com?

    This is a classic incumbent leader devouring the irreverent upstart -- with a twist.In this case, this upstart can provide the needed DNA lifeline to Goliath to win in the digital retail future. The mindset shift necessary to remain at the top and to compete successfully with Amazon for the new generation of shoppers requires an external impetus. The price tag that Walmart paid for Jet.com loudly states the company's belief in the changed retail landscape and its intention to embrace, not silence, the Jet.com DNA.
  • Posted on: 09/19/2016

    Is digital defining the shopping experience?

    There is no doubt that traditional KPIs and ROI measures are out of sync with today’s digital business reality. It’s natural for measures to lag change, as with the continued fixation of productivity measures across the brand that ignore all but store performance: comp-store sales, sales per square foot, sales per labor hour and so on. In such a “reality,” operators and analysts see the world as stores vs. the rest in a zero-sum game, in a fast changing shopping environment. Just as retailers designed, built and delivered an assortment of products and services to meet their customers’ needs, they also need to co-create the shopping environment in which their 21st century business lives -- and today that extends well beyond their four walls and span of control.While the Deloitte study does an excellent job of exposing the only reality that ought to matter to retailers -- how consumers view, live, and behave in this world -- the authors sell short retailers’ ability and willingness to adapt and adjust to this new reality. The winning retailers of tomorrow are starting to invest today in this mindset change. The store will remain the most significant element in the mix yet, keeping in mind that in a thoroughly customer-focused approach, digital becomes THE operating environment from which the next wave of retail winners emerge.
  • Posted on: 09/16/2016

    Will smart shoes and AI take wearables to a new level?

    The fitness market provides a ready-made environment for the spread of wearable technology and AI. This movement goes well beyond smart shoes and companies such as Under Armour have made this connected fitness a cornerstone of their strategy.Five years from now, we will be wondering how we lived without clothing that can anticipate a heart attack, detect metabolic imbalance through your sweat or provide feedback on your tennis stroke.
  • Posted on: 09/16/2016

    Consumers rely on reviews, but they don’t trust them

    There are two general types of online reviews: ones that are product-specific, which transcend the individual retailer, and those on the shopping experience which are retailer-specific. Retailers need to encourage both but stay out of the former and pay close attention to the latter.Online reviews are very popular and relied upon as an overall category in the purchase process -- for brands and banners. As the survey indicated, that doesn't translate into a trust of all things posted -- but the key here is that this doesn't invalidate the value of online reviews. Opportunity beckons.Amazon has created a very high standard on customer reviews where it is relied upon AND trusted. With a properly designed and vetted online product and service review process, increased number of customer reviews and giving a greater voice to the customers (with less retailer meddling in this shopper-side community conversation) retailers can greatly increase authenticity, credibility and trust. Nothing wrong with taking cues from best-in-class and making that work in your operations.
  • Posted on: 09/14/2016

    Should grocers back away from prepared meals?

    Driving using the past as model for the future is akin to driving using the rear-view mirror. It's guaranteed to end up in a disaster -- eventually.Start with the consumer in mind. If you believe they value fresh prepared foods and you can deliver on their expectations then you ought to pursue it. Prepared foods represent an adjacent offering that is a natural fit in today's food shopping. Traditional boundaries in retail segments are melting away. The notion of pure-plays is based on a product view of the world and NOT one that takes the customer as the starting point.Take Palacio de Hierro's Polanco flagship store in Mexico City. They have a restaurant on every floor combining personalized engagement and differentiated experience in a luxury department store setting. They had a single-minded pursuit of delivering a unique and valued experience for their customers. Let's not sell short grocers as they adapt to the changing needs and demands of their customer base. I agree that this is hard to execute but that is the future opportunity.Courage changes everything!
  • Posted on: 09/09/2016

    These social media behaviors are turning off your followers

    Social messaging needs to be consistent with the overall brand message and value. As long as the content and conversation are in sync with the brand and the products/services, then you maximize the value derived by your followers.Do stay authentic and communicate in a consistent voice while listening to your followers. It's a conversation and not a lecture.Do not try to be something you're not or to jump on a trending topic for the sake of that topic rather than because it is relevant to your brand and followers.
  • Posted on: 09/08/2016

    Can crowdsourced price data change shopping habits?

    Given that my local newspaper still has circulars screaming out with grocery promotions and offers, supermarket operators must believe that their customers actively do compare prices for their shopping trips. Not to say that all consumers are as sensitive to pricing, or that all are willing to make multiple stops to complete their basket, just that enough of them are willing to do so to make this app relevant.So the idea that an app can look at the entire list and make an informed decision on the best place to shop is certainly useful. Things are a bit more sketchy on the timeliness and quality of the pricing inputs and how the app handles private-label items.Store managers have always been interested in how their own store pricing compares with the local competition and this app can certainly make this possible while giving them a view of what their customers are seeing.Couple of caveats:This assumes that price is the key variable in deciding where to shop and will remain the priority in the foreseeable future. In the experience economy and with strong branding, this assumption is under fire. A focus on pricing is not in the long-term interest of retailers. In focusing on price, retailers risk taking their eyes off the overall shopping experience and their overall engagement with their customers. They will quickly find themselves mired in a race to the bottom; competing on a single dimension that cannot be sustained over the long-term.
  • Posted on: 09/08/2016

    Could Amazon’s physical stores fuel a backlash?

    Yes, yes and more of the same.Amazon was ridiculed when they launched at the end of the last century and has been under attack by all retail segments as they succeeded to capture more of the traditional brick-and-mortar sales. By coming full circle and adding physical stores to their menu of choices, greater backlash is most certainly to be expected by independent bookstore owners.It is perfectly fair for the independents to differentiate between themselves and Amazon as well as project two distinct futures with and without Amazon’s encroachment on the physical store front. That’s what competition is all about. And consumers will vote with their wallet.Amazon’s response need not be any different than with its earlier business model rollouts. The company will stay the course, listen to their customers, learn from early pilots, leverage its assets in ways others cannot match and use technology to create new and differentiated customer experience.Looking further in the future, will Amazon stop at physical bookstores or will they expand to other categories as they did with the original online store? I expect things to get even more interesting! Retail is as dynamic as it gets in business!
  • Posted on: 09/07/2016

    What does it take to earn Millennials’ loyalty?

    What happens when long-standing assumptions of a perennially successful business practice lose their validity? Will the underlying concept also disappear?The idea of consumer "loyalty" -- be it Millennials' or otherwise -- has been under fire with the advent of easy, frictionless 24/7 information access and social sharing. Millennials symbolize this shift more so than any other generation. They will reward a brand or banner with authentic voice and behavior, based on how the brand lives out its vision and the transparency of its business practices and communications. This generation is not held captive by a Pavlovian marketing algorithm. Keep in mind that these are the same age cohorts that you're hiring and preparing to lead your organizations in the coming decade. From the inside or the outside, organizational change is inevitable.The world is changing, it's up to those who recognize this to adjust their practices. In the near-term, this will not happen until they come to terms with a new way of thinking and viewing their customers. In the long-term, there's no escaping the future. Then and only then will loyalty take on a new definition that operates on both sides of the ledger. It will be refreshingly liberating to the new breed of marketers and welcomed by all consumers.
  • Posted on: 08/29/2016

    ConAgra, Unilever mull delivering meals to the home

    These are truly exciting times for the consumer!Anytime you have a growth area with above-average profit potential it will attract new entrants. So, while we have a new horizontal "category" in the making, the key skills required for success are also emerging as players adapt and attempt to scale.Large CPG companies are better suited at scaling than creating a business with newly defined (and dynamic) needs. It's best for food suppliers to evaluate their entire value proposition and ecosystem to understand how to connect in the meal kit delivery service area. For some partnering with a retailer for an easy pickup location will be ideal, for others acquiring a start-up for direct deliveries will be a better fit with their long-term strategy.The important point here -- in this specific new business area -- is that exploration, speed and agility taken together are more important than all the data research and focus group results. Far better results will happen from going out there and trying new limited approaches versus trying to data analyze your way to the perfect answer out there.On the flip side, retailers need to undergo the same thinking and position their stores and online offerings to meet the emerging needs and wants of their customers -- even if these fall outside of the classic grocery shopping model.
  • Posted on: 08/25/2016

    Can Best Buy build momentum with new services and IoT?

    As Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) once quipped, "the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated," so have been the repeated rumors of Best Buy's impending demise.Best Buy has been able to reinvent itself over the years while continuing to provide a common theme of being an electronics retailer. As technology and lifestyles change, so has the company's assortments, layout, products, services and experience (in-store, online, in-home). Attempts to compete on price with the lowest cost structure is not a feasible strategy, so Best Buy continues to reinvent the store and customer experience to set it apart.The current move to IoT and the connected home will provide not only a growth platform for years to come, but also a defensible differentiation executed at scale. Two thumbs up, way up!
  • Posted on: 08/18/2016

    Have consumers accepted dynamic pricing?

    Lots of different ways of defining dynamic pricing. No matter how you slice it though, we end up with one side asking how much can I get away with and the other side wondering if they were taken to the cleaners. That is not a good position to be in and is not sustainable.Yield management has been a boon for airlines and a bane for consumers. Monopoly-like conditions remove the need for transparency and sully the brand's relationship with its customer base.As they consider various flavor of dynamic pricing, retailers have to tread carefully here and weigh the pros and cons and the practices of such programs -- through the eyes of their customers.
  • Posted on: 08/18/2016

    Will Adidas’s Speedfactory disrupt shoe production?

    Speed and agility are two sides of the success coin that companies are looking to mint today. As companies use Big Data and predictive insights to tap into consumer trends, being agile becomes key in their ability to leverage these insights as is the speed to scale and execute on these insights. This is a winning move by Adidas. The company’s “Speedfactory” provides both agility and speed for the company to respond to local market conditions and delight both the retailer and consumer with the right products at the right stores ahead of other competitors.Think of these types of robot-staffed factories as supplementing and not replacing the mass production of core styles. The Speedfactories meet incremental, emerging consumer demands based on local conditions. It’s a viable and effective two-prong approach to keeping production costs low while slashing delivery time and keeping the products in sync with market demands. Others will pay close attention to how well Adidas executes, but I expect that they’ve already bought into the concept.
  • Posted on: 08/10/2016

    Will selling in fewer stores help Coach sell more handbags?

    Even with fancy math, you are facing serious headwinds attempting to sell more handbags and simultaneously increasing the brand's luxury quotient by cutting the number of doors you sell through and reducing markdown allowances.What you will clearly do is improve the brand's exclusivity which protects margins and emphasizes what the brand stands for. It rewards those that have purchased the brand while it protects the future value and cache of these "investments" by well-heeled consumers. However, to think that such a move will also increase unit sales is a far less likely proposition -- at least in the short- to medium-term.
  • Posted on: 08/10/2016

    Is it OK for brands to have emotions?

    Ken Lonyai is on to something here. Playing (and twisting) off of that, I see brands as reaching out and touching emotions and core values that consumers already have. A brand's ability to connect deeply not only depends on the message and medium, but on the actual interactions that consumers experience which reinforce the brand, making it real, relevant and authentic (walking the talk).For those consumers that connect emotionally with the brand, they will come to see the brand as standing for a value that they care about. It becomes as much subjective at the level of consumer as it is purposeful at the level of the brand.Instead of looking through the prism of generations, brands need to cater to common affinities that cut across these mega-cohorts. Lifestyles transcend generations and engaging along such dimensions should be more effective than broad-brush painting of birth year ranges.

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