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.

  • Posted on: 07/26/2016

    Why has retail’s transition to data-driven enterprises been so arduous?

    It’s dangerous to paint an entire industry into a corner; retailers don’t operate on a single speed or mode, yet at the risk of doing just that, let me point to a more fundamental problem that may shed some light on today’s discussion.What tends to be more true than not is that silos continue to not only exist but to thrive in organizations. The role and turf division across the retailing enterprise: merchandising, store operations, and marketing remains alive and well. Each will take their own view of reality and by extension develop their own approach to analytics and their user experience. It’s not only the tug of war between centralized and decentralized operations but defining where that line ought to be for strategy and long-term investment in the business. Lacking strong, engaged, and determined leadership at the top, each of the silos will "run with the ball" as they see fit. That’s not inherently good or bad, but with the fast pace of change in this digital economy, having an inconsistent or nonexistent approach is highly risky.Breaking with the past — especially if it has worked well — is hard to do. There’s a need to consciously break down traditional silos and model for 21st century organization. Retailers can leverage the creativity and downright ingenuity that exists and operates on the edge and purposely integrate into a common enterprise-wide approach and framework. This will help them win with analytics and deal with the unrelenting and accelerating growth of enterprise and consumer data.
  • Posted on: 07/25/2016

    7-Eleven makes history with consumer drone delivery

    When it comes to drone delivery, we're still in the "gee whiz" stage -- naive astonishment and wonderment at the application of technology.I'm no more or less optimistic than a year ago -- drone delivery is inevitable. the only question is how long until it happens and the path we take to get there. There'll be more aha moments and some "I told you so" moments, but eventually we'll all be wondering why drone delivery (and other yet to be considered mechanisms) took so long to get here.
  • Posted on: 07/25/2016

    Will discount student loans work as a Prime incentive?

    Peter Schwartz classic, “the Art of the Long View,” addresses planning for a future in a world full of uncertainty. In the case of Amazon, we have a company that embraces the long view yet is firmly grounded in classical competitive economic warfare.This is classic strategy applied to the digital age. Amazon is looking at lifelong value of their customers, in this case college students, and beginning to build relationships that will last a lifetime. The company is creating situations that weave it into lifestyles in a very sticky way. Amazon is doing a great job of integrating the brand into everything we do, need and desire.
  • Posted on: 07/21/2016

    What does Unilever’s acquisition of Dollar Shave Club mean?

    Why does a blade that costs less than a quarter to make sell for 15 to 20 times that amount? It’s about hitting your own ROI targets on top of the R&D and advertising costs and the margins wholesalers and retailers need to make. That blade had to feed and nurture a lot of stakeholders and was able to do so as long as it commanded differentiated attributes. The formula worked well for decades -- maybe too well not to attract new entrants.So in 2011, enter Dollar Shave Club. The ease of launching an online company doing direct-to-consumer subscription services was made possible with infrastructure technology help coming from Amazon’s AWS and adoption of cloud computing. Creating awareness did not require expensive TV ads, but YouTube videos. Wholesale and retail margins were bypassed. The entire value delivery model was changed from manufacturing to point of consumption.Consumers are looking for convenience and value. How they attribute trust to brands is no longer the same as once made popular (and profitable) by icons of consumer goods like P&G and Unilever. CPG companies and retailers will learn and adapt in this new digital economy. As Louis Gerstner remarked on leading IBM’s historic turnaround in the 1990s, “who says elephants can’t dance?”Bottom line, this is DISRUPTION by any measure of the word that speaks to the vulnerability of traditional profit pools and the innovative business models ahead. Compared to P&G’s paying $57 Billion for Gillette in 2005, the Dollar Shave Club is a real steal that points to truly disruptive changes to how consumers buy and experience products. Are you ready to dance?
  • Posted on: 07/19/2016

    What does it take to compete in an off-price retail world?

    The term “off-price” is defined and imagined on the basis of a “full-price” paradigm that is no longer viable. Even if we take the term off-price outlets as a format, we’re still working with the old strategy that retailers ought to have regular price stores and discount stores (to move slow inventory). Nearly every store is a discount store irrespective of category or seasonality. Yes, it’s very difficult to create a high-end and off-price image under the same roof, yet in the early days of department stores they did just that with the “basement” offering deep discounts. The reality is that today’s consumers are sophisticated, opinionated, expect more for less and want it yesterday. Traditional consumer categories that are malleable to marketing efforts have gone the way of the dodo bird. Today’s consumers have come to expect deals (as a key metric to how they define value) before they are willing to separate from their hard-earned money. The only exception and caveat I see is where the consumer seeks a differentiated retail experiences for which emotions and not product characteristics reign supreme and price concerns fade into the background.Consumers' easy 24/7 access to information, product comparisons including prices and digital offers have made the notion of paying full price a 20th century dinosaur -- just note Amazon’s wild success to date. What’s surprising to me is that so called “off-price” shoppers represent only two-thirds of U.S. shoppers. Outside of the top 1 percent, there’s no motivation not to shop retail’s new pricing paradigm.
  • Posted on: 07/18/2016

    Pokémon Go showcases potential of augmented reality in retail

    As Liz clearly stated, “Welcome to the Great New Reality.”Progress (however defined) comes in surprising turn of events. Pokémon Go is the tip of the iceberg and while it may not survive the next onslaught of innovations in AR and VR, it is ringing the siren of the Great New Reality in the consumer world. Those that heed it will adapt and prosper, those that turn a deaf ear will miss the next wave. Success depends on how quickly you adapt to the changing business landscape — and consumers are defining this faster than enterprises (and c-suites) are prepared to move and are doing it in provocative and unexpected ways.Depending on your age and interests, you may loathe or love it, but that will not make AR and VR go away. Retail is a highly innovative and dynamic industry and winners will never cease to surprise. The enduring nature of retail is that the customer votes with their pocketbook every day on what they value. It may seem counter-intuitive, but given that we’re on the cusp of X-gen and Millennials taking over the spending power that baby boomers had enjoyed for decades, and that we’re in a digitally experiential economy, we’re finding that how we define reality is changing. It may seem counter-intuitive, but we may find that for the new spending generations, AR and VR will be more real than “reality” as we know it today.You may not like it, want it, or understand it, but I can guarantee that you will have to deal with this new reality. Embrace the future and begin to experiment with how you can adapt and weave people’s changing behavior into new business models.Welcome to the Great New Reality!
  • Posted on: 07/18/2016

    What’s creating the pricing disconnects between retailers and vendors?

    Manufacturers tend to view their markets at the macro level through the prism of their products and cost structure. Retailers tend to view their world through the eyes of their customers and immediate competitive pressures.The same product sold in different formats and banners will attract different customers and associated value equations and bundled services. That's what makes retail so darn exciting and dynamic.The disconnect on pricing is not going away any time soon unless both sides use the same worldview: the end-customer and how they use and experience their products. Hubris and past success are likely to keep the two sides apart longer than need be.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2016

    Are retailers ready for the next wave of cyber scams?

    Military history provides great examples of "fighting the last war" where once successful strategies and tactics that worked well are no longer effective nor relevant in today's realities. France's Maginot Line is such an example.In today's digital world, data is the lifeblood of business and with every additional petabyte, exabyte, and zettabyte we are exponentially increasing cyber risks for consumers and retailers. As an industry, there needs to be a much more anticipatory approach to fighting the true hurdle to building brand trust in a sea of technological advances.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2016

    Amazon declares victory – Prime Day II concludes

    The model is working beautifully for Amazon!Amazon has to continue to add Prime membership at an accelerating rate in order to expose consumers to the panoply of products and services -- all of which drive more business for Amazon and increase the brand's top-of-mind and delivered value with consumers.Amazon's success here is forcing retailers to respond with their own value equation and creating excitement to attract foot traffic and purchase clicks.
  • Posted on: 07/11/2016

    Will drop-off points boost online sales?

    While this may never reach mainstream status, it does offer convenience and cost-cutting for consumers and shipping carriers, respectively. It also give retailers one more option to offer their customers.Additionally, retail sites where these Access Points are co-located will get more foot traffic and potential sales.Bottom line, consumers love to have options and Access Points do just that for specific situations while simultaneously being a more efficient mechanism for shipping carriers.
  • Posted on: 06/23/2016

    How important is ‘place’ among the P’s of retail marketing?

    Location will always be important in retail. In the days of physical-only retailing, it meant success or failure of the banner — it never was about "build it and they will come." In today's digital economy, location takes a different and highly variable meaning.In a hybrid retailing world, the physical and the digital come together based on the consumer's own experience journey. Their actions place different values based on their desires and needs and this changes by time and place. The new location value lever is more complicated than before, but no less important.For those that offer services that are difficult, if not impossible to replicate online such as Ulta Salons, location becomes a strong differentiator and defensive moat. The more services that retailers can add to their assortments, the more defensible will be their shoppers' experience journey.
  • Posted on: 06/23/2016

    Millennials love their grocerants

    No one has a monopoly on prepared foods however some, like Wegmans, have been at it for a long time and have explicitly emphasized it in their stores. There's a serious learning curve to such an operation and it's too easy to see large gross margins turn into net losses.Prepared food has been and will continue to be a differentiator for supermarkets despite presenting a completely different set of operational and systemic challenges. I expect more supermarkets will be investing in prepared foods as an alternative to QSRs for healthy eating as well as providing a casual and comfortable gathering point. Perishables as a whole are a surefire way to differentiate the supermarket from other competitors and prepared foods can also provide a solid defense against being "Amazon'd."Supermarkets will need to rethink their approach here and make the technology and process investments necessary to develop these new capabilities and deliver a new customer experience in their stores.
  • Posted on: 06/20/2016

    Would ‘driverless’ carts enhance shopping in stores?

    Machine intelligence, artificial intelligence, and deep learning are at the heart of what the future holds not only in today’s R&D, but also for tomorrow’s successful business models. Whether it’s driverless cars or carts, the direction is to learn more about applications of this new frontier in computing and intelligence and, just as importantly, on the human-machine interaction.I see Walmart taking steps to ensure that their existing scale and relevance continues into the next decade on an even higher trajectory. While we may put on our practical hats and snicker at the notion of driverless carts, the upside here transcends the experiment and will provide important learning for Walmart upon which they can differentiate their brand and the shopping experience.What I find riveting is that for a company that represents the status quo more than any other in retail, Walmart is actively pursuing the potential of disruptive technologies in order to maintain its leadership. How well it learns and infuses these initiatives into a new company DNA will determine its future success and how we experience retailing in the 2020s.
  • Posted on: 06/14/2016

    IRCE recap: Retailers have to be careful with dynamic pricing

    Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater. Nothing wrong with what technology enables you to do, but what you do with it is up to you. If your customers feel that you're price gouging and taking advantage of them then you've sullied your brand perception and no amount of margin improvement can fix the customers' rush to the exits.With great power comes great responsibility. Use yours wisely. Paula provides excellent guidelines in the article.
  • Posted on: 06/14/2016

    Microsoft/LinkedIn deal shows content is king

    I'll take the other side of the trade on this one. Microsoft got a great deal with the announced purchase of LinkedIn and brings back a missing growth narrative for the brand. The company can now get firmly into social and boost its strategic arc to the cloud. Seamlessly integrating Office 365 and LinkedIn will not only improve the business user experience but will also add a personal and company-level productivity bump.LinkedIn gets the deep pockets of Microsoft and not having to cater to a financial market’s quarterly expectations. It’ll be worth watching how the LinkedIn team operates within Microsoft over the next one-to-two years. Integrations of large acquisitions are never easy.Bottom line, this is good news for both companies and demonstrates that in the digital age sustained brand differentiation begins with combining great content and a highly-connected social networking platform.

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