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 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.
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  • Posted on: 02/17/2017

    Will Dunnhumby’s analytics do for Whole Foods what it did for Kroger?

    Historically Whole Foods has differentiated on having the right products in their stores, they didn’t worry about knowing the customer in the ways that Dunnhumby and other analytics vendors can help them achieve. So this is a big deal and a big change for the company as they take on multiple major initiatives simultaneously.The situation with Whole Foods is very different from what Kroger had faced when they embarked on their analytics journey with Dunnhumby. Could the company benefit from this move? Of course it can; the challenge resides in how much Whole Foods can digest as it executes on multiple fronts to reverse declining same-store sales and rolling out more 365 stores.
  • Posted on: 02/16/2017

    Lidl is ahead of schedule for U.S. store openings

    Entering the US grocery market is not for the faint of heart. Lidl has taken their time to study and explore their ideas. They've taken notice of what is working (Trader Joe's, Aldi) and what has not (Tesco's Fresh & Easy). Also, Lidl is aware of how the traditional grocery segment has responded to new entrants such as Whole Foods in the 1980s and '90s and to Aldi's discount model or Trader Joe's fanatic customer base.The biggest challenge facing Lidl is translating those understandings to a differentiated store experience for a skeptical customer base wondering why they need one more grocery chain from which to choose. Focusing on one region to establish their presence is a good approach. Marketing and communicating with their future customers and how they execute in the stores they open will determine Lidl's success in executing their strategy. The potential is high, but so is the risk. My bet is on Lidl to make this a big success despite some bumps along the way.
  • Posted on: 02/16/2017

    What will Walmart gain from its Moosejaw acquisition?

    The typical Moosejaw customer quote says it all, " ... this love runs deep ... " Since its founding, Walmart has appealed to the rationally calculating, deal-seeking side of our brain: from always low prices to save money, live better. With the experiential lifestyle trend and future buying power of Millennials, Walmart is running a huge M&A lab to make changes to the company's DNA.The key for Walmart -- and for Moosejaw and its loyal customers -- will depend on how quickly Walmart internalizes the new retail paradigm represented by the likes of Moosejaw and Jet.com.Implications for competitors? They're hoping Walmart's past success will keep the company from adopting the necessary changes to maintain the company's leadership into the next decade. However, hoping is not a plan. Competitors need to apply technology to strategically embed their brands in the lives of their consumers and to organize internally around how they can consistently deliver exceptional customer experiences.
  • Posted on: 02/15/2017

    Is Amazon the most innovative company in retailing?

    For years Amazon has been the poster child for innovation in retail and elsewhere. Their unswerving focus on applying technology to delight their customer as well as fully appreciating the role of trust and speed has created a virtuous circle and greater freedom to experiment in ways just not feasible for competitors. Internally, they are geared to risk-taking in order to continuously pushing the envelope of what’s possible -- thereby creating opportunities where none were previously perceived. At their core, Amazon is a technology company that now happens to sell everything to anyone.In science, there's theoretical and applied knowledge. The former is of little value without the latter which cannot exist without the former. Retailers do not need to own theory (technology), they need to own how they apply it to their customers. Combining the right technology with a laser focus on making the lives of their customers better, simpler, and more convenient will drive the retail innovation agenda. That translates to developing the right set of partnerships in the technology sector and creating differentiation in what you choose to apply and execute -- with speed and agility -- for the benefit of your customers.
  • Posted on: 02/15/2017

    Will having the same buyers for online and stores work for Walmart?

    I believe the latest coming out of Walmart is that the two buying teams will remain independent of each other; however, any item that is sold in stores will be available online through the same buyer. There will continue to be online-only products that are the purview of the online buying team.For the vendors, it'll be logistically easier to deal with a single buyer regardless of the sales channel. For Walmart, expectations are for lower cost of goods and greater visibility for the buyer on product performance across stores and web.In this post Jet.com merger world for Walmart, what we're witnessing at the world's largest retailer are the early signs of the type of process changes necessary to bring the internal organizational setup in sync with how consumers shop today.
  • Posted on: 02/15/2017

    Zappos takes to the road to connect with consumers

    There are many ways to connect with consumers across the digital and physical spaces; pop-ups are certainly an easy, low-cost, and dynamic option. By delivering consistent experiences across a variety of customer touchpoints, Zappos and other brands can better positioned to create enduring connections with their customers and communities.In this specific case, Zappos is truly unique in that they view the company as primarily a service company that is creating experiences in which they sell shoes and clothing. The company is a living management lab with fresh ideas worth considering and adapting by more established brands.
  • Posted on: 02/13/2017

    How price competitive does Whole Foods need to be?

    Whole Foods's differentiation on quality resonates with a decreasing segment of the food shopping world. For the rest, they don't see a difference between organic at Kroger or at Whole Foods; that is a problem when you charge more for undifferentiated products or experiences. Whole Foods cannot succeed in sufficiently educating the consumer on the quality message to counter sales erosion.If Whole Foods wants to profitably grow again, then I suggest they consider investing significantly more in their 365 Stores as a value-based format for foodies on a budget, while simultaneously addressing their out-of-phase cost structure established long ago when the organic food shopper represented a niche segment.Their other alternative is to go more upscale. It would mean giving up on improving comp stores while focusing on margin expansion. The 365 Stores would no longer be part of such a strategy which would place greater emphasis on new and exciting products and experiences in their current stores while keeping their price points up.Mr. Mackey and the Board need to make and commit to a singular and clear strategic direction and go all out to execute. Within that strategic choice you can do all the experimenting you want, but don't mix efforts in mutually exclusive and competing strategies.
  • Posted on: 02/13/2017

    Should L.L.Bean ditch its legendary return policy?

    L.L. Bean is a legendary brand built on great products and exceptional customer service. Guiding the brand and the business through the 21st century requires revisiting all assumptions and processes. This means making any needed changes as well as doubling down on the company's core values.While current market conditions create the context for managerial decisions, stated values of company founders continue to frame the range of acceptable business decisions. Yet we do know that what has worked in the past may be out of touch today.For L.L. Bean, more restrictive changes to their return policy will be a risk to a reputation established since 1912. However, that does not mean that the company cannot use technology to identify and deal with the worst returns offenders. There is no reason to make wholesale changes to a policy upon which the company was founded in order to address a small fraction of their customer base while alienating their core customer.
  • Posted on: 01/24/2017

    What will blockchain mean for retail supply chains?

    As a globally-distributed, decentralized digital ledger of all the information pertaining to a transaction, blockchain has a very real potential to transform the retail supply chain.The most impactful feature of blockchain is the ability to create trust around a transaction. Retail and CPG supply chains are ideally suited for blockchain technology. The possibility to accurately trace movement from farm to fork or sea to plate (and freshness), or ensure the authenticity of a high-value item or ownership attribution of created content.Retail may not see a big push in 2017 with blockchain, but the ongoing adoption within financial services will begin to bleed over to retail in 2018 and beyond. While current discussion is focused on the supply chain, the most valued benefits of blockchain in retail and CPG will be the impact it has on engendering consumer trust in the product and the brand and by extension the value they place on their engagement and experience with your brand.
  • Posted on: 01/23/2017

    Is four-wall profitability still a relevant metric?

    Metrics exist to help managers compare performance across time and place; they are a best-effort attempt to eliminate variability, make valid comparisons and eventually investment decisions. They also reflect the current business model assumptions (stated and implicit). Years ago in business school, case studies were used to emphasize looking for and using what I call "short-cut" metrics to quickly assess a company's health -- these abstractions rise above the noise and help managers cut through the haze of complexity. Same-store comps, sales per square foot and order size were all key indicators of future success and levers by which to run the company.Today the retailer- or product-centric model of efficiency and asset utilization is giving way to a technology-fueled consumer-centric one. That doesn't mean the existing metrics are worthless, but they do become incomplete and can easily mislead management into faulty decisions that solve the wrong problem.As long as majority of retail sales takes place in the store, it is not advisable to abandon four-wall contribution. While new metrics are needed, the bottom line is that future success requires that you understand what activities inside those four walls (and outside) really mean in an omnichannel business -- the synergies across physical and online will only get stronger leading to even more difficulties for those desiring to view and manage these separately.
  • Posted on: 01/23/2017

    Can soccer be a differentiator for Target?

    Smart move but don't expect any quick sales results out of this announcement. This is more of a long-term investment on Target's part and should strengthen the brand and help future sales. Having the company's logo appear on the jerseys of the local team, Minnesota United FC, further solidifies Target's deep connection to the community.
  • Posted on: 01/20/2017

    Will online sales redeem struggling brick and mortar retailers?

    I've shared my view in the past about retail becoming a hybrid model where digital and physical retailing meld together in ways that makes discussions of specific channels almost meaningless. The key is to take the full customer experience from the customer perspective and not from the retailing side.Taking a different way of looking at today's question, we can look at another major shift in IT: going from on premise software to cloud computing. At first it was vilified by some tech titans, then embraced, and now is considered the future delivery and consumption model. Industries have come to embrace cloud computing for the agility, flexibility and cost it provides; yet, they are tenaciously hanging on to some on premise (or hybrid) footprint for strategic and security reasons. The ongoing shift in retailing from physical to online may not have similar path or pace forward, but it’s instructive nevertheless to see how we tend to oppose any change to the status quo for what seem to be good strategic reasons.Instead of thinking of either/or options, we ought to consider stores AND online, physical AND digital. One does not redeem the other, one does not define the other. They must work together as one, otherwise the inconsistencies will eventually tear the organization apart and/or drive customers away.
  • Posted on: 01/20/2017

    NRF Show attendees aren’t sure how 2017 will shake out

    Driven by consumer confidence, the retail industry performance, as a whole, in 2017 will be healthy. That said, adding meaningful jobs, a rise in home equity, tame inflation coupled with slow rise in interest rates, and continued rise in the financial markets will power consumer confidence higher.However, the performance of individual retail segments and companies within the industry will vary greatly. Retailers need to position themselves to win in 2017. Their share in the growth will greatly depend on 1) the realization that the changes all around are not trivial or transitory; and 2) the speed and energy by which they pursue their digital future.Retail has always been about the customer and giving them a reason to come back for more. Technology in the form of the internet, social networks, and mobile devices has changed the way people shop and what they expect from retailers. The faster retailers not just adjust, but fully embrace, the new retail reality, the more likely they are to share in the exciting opportunities ahead.
  • Posted on: 01/19/2017

    Target gets creative help from Gen Z in new apparel line

    A few years ago I had a heated conversation with a colleague about "customer engagement." My argument was that the internet and social media were making it possible for anyone to speak their mind, to have a voice and that was going to change how retailers create and market products — creating the need for genuine engagement. The counter argument was that all customers care about is getting the best price discount — price embodies the full value equation.Collaboration in business is not a hokey, but a viable business concept. In consumer-facing industries, it’s even more important given customer expectations of super-personalization and co-creation. Customers — regardless of age cohort — don’t want a retailer to do things to them, but to do things with them. The more you can involve (engage) your core customer in design to how they experience the product, the more you’re able to give them an ownership stake in your brand’s future.This is a smart move by Target and captures the imagination of a very important generation by instilling the brand in that group’s identity matrix.
  • Posted on: 01/19/2017

    Will Walmart’s Scan & Go catch on this time around?

    Good move by Walmart and points to one of the major changes we'll see in US retailing over the next two years.Retail checkout lines are a notorious detractor to the ownership experience. In grocery segment and big box formats this is acute. So anytime you can eliminate, or greatly reduce, the effort and time associated in that final step (the last one the customer remembers before leaving the store) the better your brand will benefit and earn more repeat trips, all else being equal.When it comes to technology, timing is critical and the speed by which consumer-level technology is being adopted portends well to future in-store retailing initiatives. Intuitive and ease of use are a must as well as the store's network speed.Each store chain will need to understand their customer demographics, shopping behavior to assess what levels of adoption to expect. These will vary from type and range of assortment to customer age groups and store location (urban v. suburban). This makes it more difficult to make generalizations from a one store pilot, yet it does manage expectations and helps to provide a more controlled environment. It also provides a "safe" environment to work out the app and process kinks before expanding the pilot.Postscript: back in 2003 I had the opportunity to visit Metro’s Future Store in Rheinberg, Germany. Using RFID tags and a specialized shopping cart, they were looking to change the in-store experience and eliminate checkout as we know it. With Amazon Go and Walmart’s Scan & Go, we’re on the cusp of substantive change in the retail store.

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