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 currently 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: 12/14/2017

    Target to make same-day delivery push with Shipt acquisition

    For Target this deal makes the company a genuine player in the same-day delivery game. While the Shipt model uses their own app or web front-end and offers free delivery for orders over $35 while charging slightly different prices from those in stores, my understanding is that Target is offering free delivery with an annual membership fee of $99. It is also not clear if Target guests will go through the Shipt app, through the Target online store or both as more products become available for same-day delivery.What Target gets immediately from this deal is an army of 20,000+ personal shoppers, multi-year experience in the store-to-door delivery space and a whole lot of data about the products purchased and expectations people have for same-day deliveries.Convenience and speed are the keys in today's retail environment. Across almost any customer segment you find that, outside of the actual experience derived from the products you purchase, time is the key to unlocking the make-or-break relationship a retailer has with its customers. In grocery, a customer can accept going through aisles to find the items on his or her shopping list, but to also make customers stand in line to checkout can be the most frustrating experience and the last thing they remember about their shopping trip.With services like Shipt, you eliminate the need for customers to do their own shopping or get in the queue (Amazon has had first-mover advantage here). Customers may pay extra for that, but they save a whole lot of time -- the one thing people can never get back.Bottom-line, this move is strategically necessary in order to remain relevant in the retail game. While it feels like a differentiating element, in three to five years it will be no more than table stakes. The longer-term value turns on how well you capture the new data so you can strengthen your market position and build higher levels of consumer trust, to create better assortments and more compelling offers and to simplify your customers' lives.
  • Posted on: 12/13/2017

    The next logical step for category management

    At the heart of Category Management is a drive for efficient management of revenue per shelf space by delivering the right mix of brands, facings, packaging, and pricing. It's a data driven product (or shelf) focused approach to the business.As strategy evolves to one that is consumer-based and not product or shelf-based, the entire category management concept must be thoroughly rethought with the consumer as the starting point. It will be even more data intensive and will cut across today's "channels."
  • Posted on: 12/13/2017

    RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Home Depot vs. Lowe’s

    The Home Depot’s spot is chock full of so many instances of doer’s that it felt like trying to drink out of a fire hydrant. Not very effective and leaves you overwhelmed.Lowe’s video opens by poking fun at the customer and suggesting that the right results will happen if you make Lowe’s your first stop for the holidays. I don’t believe it was sufficiently convincing leaving one underwhelmed.Nothing here to attract new customers or even differentiate each store chain. I think I’ll take a pass on these two videos (but not the brands).
  • Posted on: 12/08/2017

    Is a tiered dollar menu the ticket for McDonald’s?

    There's a real tug of war here between decisions based on cost versus the dining/driving experience. McDonald's focus on guest experience, the introduction of technology in the form of order kiosks and streamlining food preparation contribute to increased relevance, convenience, and lowered cost.The Dollar menu simplifies ordering and protects margins up to a point. Can you imagine a $1.25 $2.50 $3.75 menu? Probably not, and might the next step when ingredient costs zoom higher be a $2 $3 $4 step change or a reduction in size for the same dollar menu; or, a shift in the menu items covered.The "experience" from a dining-in versus drive-through is a good way to understand expectations and differentiate the value equation. Service, speed, accuracy of order, ease of ordering and payment, menu choices and pricing, and food quality are all important but have different value relevance depending on which group you belong. The fundamental question of "why does Jane (or Joe) drive past a competitor to visit McDonald's" must be addressed and understood in order to boost frequency of visits, increase average tab, and attract new customers.
  • Posted on: 12/08/2017

    Amazon is (quietly) upending private branding. Will others follow?

    I realize this oversimplifies reality, but we have highly differentiated brands that play on high-end luxury or certain lifestyle affinity and then a much larger pool that provides everyday value and performance. Private label fits well in this large value category and by sheer existence on Amazon, proper page positioning, search results, and favorable reviews (and videos), you develop a massive battle front for consumers' attention and wallet. Scale is the not so secret sauce for Amazon's private label strategy.For retailers, they are competing in a new era of highly changed purchase behavior. Amazon competes head-on with Google on exploration and education during shopping journeys. Retailers will either have the brand prominence to initiate searches on their own native websites or to leverage social media and non-Amazon search engines such as Google to guide the path-to-purchase and locate their private label products on the first page of the results (on a mobile device).
  • Posted on: 12/08/2017

    Get ready – there are still three shopping holidays left before Christmas

    From Thanksgiving to end of the year, it's an all out effort to find the best deals in a massive shopping extravaganza. Of the three days mentioned here, Super Saturday is the definite winner. This is the make-or-break date to find the deals or the best alternate and still get it under the tree.For 2017, the weekend before Christmas will be one of the busiest in recent retail history with stores doing great business. This will also translate to much more activity at the stores for gift returns, switching, and post-Christmas deals. Retailers cannot ignore the week after Christmas in their efforts to close out the year strong.
  • Posted on: 12/07/2017

    Would CVS + Aetna = lower healthcare costs?

    The argument behind the proposed acquisition is sound. Data and technology are changing the operational algorithms of industries as well as shifting existing boundaries in novel ways.The challenge is once you have the data and created new as well as shortened vertical processes with greater efficiencies and more relevance, you create a different reality with conditions that invite unexpected behavior on both the part of the consumer and the industry players. What happens when margins come under unexpected pressures or growth slows below projections? Might there be a new monetization idea utilizing the newly captured data? Does such a new combination provide a more convenient "one stop shop" for hackers to tap highly sensitive personal data and connect that with publicly available data to extract money and favors?I think the CVS and Aetna combination is a solid business proposal that is necessary in today's competitive conditions. The privacy concerns are equally real and important and will require much work to avoid violations be they purposeful or inadvertent.
  • Posted on: 12/07/2017

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: H&M vs. Gap

    H&M is an imaginative spot that appears to prioritize storytelling creativity as-such over using storytelling to associate specific qualities with the H&M brand or to purposefully move the audience to spend their time and money at H&M.Gap's spot connects better with the brand's intent and strategy. The colorful outfits are appropriate for the season and a world apart from the mundane, look-alike khaki worldview that had once differentiated the brand with simple elegance.
  • Posted on: 11/28/2017

    Encouraging signs for department stores as holiday season kicks off

    According to the National Retail Federation, last holiday season represented a 4% growth across retail. However, department stores came in down 7% in year over year comparisons (see here).So, against that backdrop and early indications from Black Friday, I am optimistic that we will see better performance this holiday season. It's true that department stores are challenged: more purchases are being made via mobile and online, foot traffic in malls is declining, and consumers are shifting to more experiential spending over pure materialism. For those reasons, the longer term prognosis is less rosy but need not be one of despair. In fact it could be the necessary pivot to a retail renaissance.The first of these challenges is a secular change for retailers and brands: mobile and online represent the future and the physical store needs to be part of that equation. And if we limit our horizon to the next 5-10 years, I believe the other two trends are firmly entrenched. However, that does not negate retailers and especially department stores from addressing those changes. They can by working in partnership with mall developers to create a more entertaining environment where destination can no longer be solely driven by anchor stores.Department stores themselves are making moves to more BOPIS, emphasizing their online credentials, and striving to connect the online and offline experiences. These are good moves to slow down the bleeding so they can reconfigure for a different future in which growth is derived from online sales and the store becomes a theater in which the brand comes to life and thereby going beyond a transactional site. If department stores can turn their physical assets into a place "where dreams come true," they will be better positioned to attract new and more customers to their "theaters" and successfully differentiate in a highly competitive and suffocating retail segment. The new retail is more like combining elements from the golden age of Hollywood and storytelling with a 21st Century well-run digital organization. Speed, agility, and maximum creativity are crucial to their success.
  • Posted on: 11/28/2017

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Amazon vs. Walmart

    Wow, these two commercials do very well for their respective brand. If forced to choose, I'd give Amazon a win by a nose -- barely.Amazon's commercial connects emotionally as it humanizes the supply chain as it fulfills your hopes and dreams. Walmart's commercial reminds you of the benefits (free shipping, no membership) as you invite love into your heart and home this Christmas season. Both spots are appropriate for their customer base and strategy. Amazon validates its leading position in ecommerce by showing why technology matters and Walmart emphasizes value and convenience.Well done!
  • Posted on: 11/27/2017

    Customer data is grocery’s new battleground

    Customer data is already transforming the retail shopping experience -- including that of grocery. The potential impact of combining customer data and grocery shopping was exemplified in Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods. The amount of data generated by the multiple visits to the physical or online food aisles represent a treasure trove of insight at the individual level as well as aggregate at store or category levels.The most obvious benefit to shoppers is a more personalized experience that transcends price offers. It means offers that communicate to my lifestyle and healthy choices. It means introducing technology that makes my life easier and shopping fun (can augmented reality help here?). It means easing or eliminating the real bugaboo of physical grocery shopping experience -- the queues and the checkout ritual. It means investing in ways to earn my trust for repeat purchases and making me your brand advocate.Advantage will accrue to those taking actions based on data more so than on being a regional or national chain. Management's and the company board's mindset on the new rules of retail will determine the degree of success on profitably growing their top line.Additionally, it's really a nuanced treatment of the longstanding debate over centralization versus decentralization. You need a centralized digital core that allows back-office efficiencies and consistencies across the company and with its trading partners. On the front end, maximum flexibility and agility are necessary to adapt at the speed of the consumer. Across both, you need to collect, analyze and combine customer and product data in novel ways that impact the shopping experience. For decades we've shouted from the mountain tops about making retail more data-driven, technology is finally making it easier to pursue the emerging visions emanating from the new retail mindset. Consumers are demanding it!
  • Posted on: 11/22/2017

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge Global Edition – Debenhams vs. House of Fraser

    Two very effective and creative spots that punctuate their respective brand image. The House of Fraser advertisement is a story about the special relationship between two sisters over the years as it moves back and forth across time to illustrate deep emotions we can all relate to.The Debenhams spot is even more effective as it brings a fairy tale story into the Twitter and social media age replete with imagery and strong narrative to keep you interested. In their home market, Debenhams is working hard to stand out from others such as John Lewis or M&S and this spot helps. Debenhams gets my vote.
  • Posted on: 11/22/2017

    Amazon launches exclusive with Calvin Klein

    In the mid-1990s I had the privilege of working with Levi's on a new go-to-market strategy that included a new demand fulfillment model by "going where the customers shop." For a brand like Levi's that meant distributing significant volume into Walmart -- a highly controversial decision at that time.Today's Amazon has many parallels with the disruptive role that Walmart played for branded manufacturers 25 years ago. These are strategic decisions with long-term impact on brand equity, growth and margins and should not be taken lightly. In the case of Calvin Klein (and PVH overall), this is a necessary step to remain in sync with how consumers shop and experience their products.For Amazon, exclusive tie-ups create further excitement and more reasons to shop Amazon. Over the longer term, these will help to establish a fashion connection with the Amazon brand.
  • Posted on: 11/21/2017

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Big Lots vs. Kohl’s

    The edgy and creative factor goes to Kohl's while Big Lots delivers the "as expected" message by ticking off all the requisite feel-good elements of the season.Each of these commercials does a good job of appealing to their targeted market. For Kohl's it's a younger consumer and for Big Lots it's more of a Baby Boomer.
  • Posted on: 11/21/2017

    Do retailers need a new approach to store brand marketing?

    Surely we can agree that store brands offer a significant opportunity to capture top line growth, protect or expand margins and, if sufficiently strong, serve as a negotiating lever with national brands. What if we get a bit more controversial here?Doing private label is not easy and it necessitates a different type of thinking and doing from the usual processes of retail buying and merchandising. That does not mean you shouldn’t do it, only that you can’t undertake this effort based on a wink and a nod. How will you create awareness and trials, and how long can you do that? How do you communicate the unique value you wish to impart? Does your proposition depend primarily on price and is that defensible and appropriate in the categories of interest? Additionally, while retailers control the physical store shelves -- and by extension some leverage with national brands -- in a digital world such an advantage may be fleeting.So to get to the heart of the matter, any strategy about store brands cannot be an afterthought or a bolt-on to existing business strategy. It can’t be another or the latest, margin boosting strategy to be employed. It needs to be in sync with the overall strategy supported by processes from idea to customer consumption and repeat purchase. The fundamental element though must be a genuine trust by the consumer of that store banner and what it stands for. Inferred product quality can be communicated through packaging and ingredients, but if the banner lacks a strong quality attribute in the minds of their customers, the results of any promotional efforts will underwhelm.For me, the best examples are in places like Trader Joe’s with a near exclusive, and wildly successful, own-branded product strategy and H-E-B’s experiential shopping feast with its own unique approach to “private” label. These two examples represent opposing price points and store sizes, yet each boasts strong fan base that trusts the banner and the quality/value of the products on the shelves. Their success with own (or controlled) store brands is baked into their strategies.

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