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: 04/27/2017

    Is Walmart’s Store No. 8 breaking boundaries or bonds with its core customers?

    Companies should be in the business of creating the future and not simply responding to what pundits and polls think their customers are looking for.Without experimenting and probing, you can never discover the hidden potential in any market. Walmart's Store No. 8 is a powerful symbol and reminder that change -- and innovation -- can only happen when you challenge the status quo. Keep it going Walmart, it's the only path to remain relevant.
  • Posted on: 04/21/2017

    How will Walmart’s price cutting affect Kroger and other rivals?

    Put simply, Walmart has to protect and hopefully increase its market share in the grocery segment where volume is a key lever in making some money or losing a lot of it. So at a macro level Walmart is battling Amazon to slow down its online grocery penetration while signaling new entrants (like Lidl) or expanding ones (like Aldi) that it will be economically difficult to justify investing in new stores and distribution networks.With projections for Amazon to be a top five grocery retailer in the U.S. in the next five years (see my comment here), coupled with consumers' desire to make more purchases online, Walmart seeks to ensure that its size and scale (fixed costs) continue to provide the company with a clear cost advantage in the market and not become a liability. Also, once inflation returns later this year, albeit at low levels, Walmart can expect slightly more favorable store comps and a profit bump by taking market share from weaker competitors.Price battles are nothing new and will not go away as long as we do not operate in a monopoly or oligopoly. The downward pressure on prices, or slow price increases (vis-à-vis commodity price increases) is the new norm in grocery. To the extent that grocers can apply technology and empower their employees to deliver an exceptional purchase and ownership experience, they'll be able to command a price premium and differentiate from the competition.
  • Posted on: 04/19/2017

    Can McD’s succeed with commercials that don’t mention its name?

    Brilliant experiment. The more you get your audience to engage in the message, the more commitment they will have in the outcome.Why not try something different that also leverages how people are immersed in their mobile devices across everything they do today? McDonald's has got something here.
  • Posted on: 04/17/2017

    How should retailers use social listening tools?

    Social listening provides retailers a very rich data pool that sheds insight on so many aspect of the business and the market. Improving the customer experience is the biggest opportunity and ought to be the primary objective -- and this goes beyond immediate customer service to include the purchase and ownership journey.Falling outside of the set of choices offered in the article is the power that comes from combining social media data with existing customer profiles to enrich customer segmentation and simultaneously improving the capability to deliver contextually-aware and personalized offers to specific customers.The real prize here is not found in "fixing" existing problems (although that is useful and necessary on its own), but in using the social data to create a new and differentiated communication framework that helps retailers (and brands) connect more powerfully with their customers.
  • Posted on: 04/13/2017

    Are retail CEOs ready to ‘disagree and commit’ like Jeff Bezos?

    The Amazon leadership model is difficult to replicate in established companies with distance from their original founder mentality. Being a manager and leader in any organization requires that you make decisions with insufficient information. By the time you have collected or generated the ideal set of data, you would have lost any inherent business advantage at best, or at worst end up playing perpetual catch-up as you descend into "irrelevance ... painful decline... and death."Legacy organizational structures and systems can become anchored to past successes unless you have the constant pounding and reminding from the likes of Intel's late leader Mr. Grove urging that "only the paranoid survive," or Mr. Bezos on being a "Day 1" company. Retailers are not immune to this phenomenon. As a former co-founder of a startup company, we projected our own vision of available data to create a future vision and act with speed that challenged legacy players' existing investments and organizational structures.As long as you encourage challenging the status quo and building a culture of open experimentation and then piling onto resultant winners, you will keep the corporate gene pool thriving and diverse. Achieving consensus at all costs is a guaranteed path to oblivion.
  • Posted on: 04/12/2017

    Will an in-store pickup discount give Walmart an edge over Amazon?

    This latest move by Walmart builds on the company's strengths: 4,700 stores and extreme efficiencies in their logistics system. The Pickup Discount program gives one more incentive for the Walmart customer to combine the convenience of online shopping with planned trips to a Walmart store and saving money. The company is making the right moves as it pursues a new value formula that will resonate with its customers.Walmart is figuring out how to turn their stores from what pundits have called a liability into a point of differentiation. The company needs to put equal effort into ensuring that the in-store experience does not take away from realizing that potential.Amazon's actions over the past couple of years all point to anticipating the battle with Walmart over consumers to include physical presence and providing more choices. How well Amazon and Walmart execute against their distinct strategies will determine success.
  • Posted on: 04/11/2017

    Would Whole Foods do better under new ownership?

    Thanks Jamie. Nothing remains the same; how well we anticipate, adapt and execute determine our future success.
  • Posted on: 04/11/2017

    Would Whole Foods do better under new ownership?

    Entrepreneurial culture does not become a liability at a company unless it has become disconnected from delivering exceptional value to paying customers. What Whole Foods is experiencing is the relentless shift from being THE defining player in the organic foods market to being one of many. Over the decades, Whole Foods' defensive moat has shrunk as the company relied on its reputation and loyal customer base and ceased to push the differentiation envelope. Competitors have continued to chip away at Whole Foods' advantages to the point that their high prices became a hurdle against growth and attracting new customers. At the same time, rollout of their 365 stores has been limited to three locations.Now Jana Partners views the business as more commodity than food fashion, and therefore finds opportunities in operations and back-office synergies across the chain. The challenge Whole Foods and Jana Partners face is how to re-establish a growth trajectory and less on efficiencies and cost reductions. The former is long-term thriving, while the latter is about surviving the short-term.
  • Posted on: 04/10/2017

    Will online sampling engage customers and drive trial at Sam’s Club?

    CPG companies and retailers love in-store sampling because you get immediate conversion and uplift is easily and directly linked to the activity. Online sampling can serve the same purpose but the linkage will not be as direct or clear and thus harder to justify for future investment.This is a good step for Sam's Club to test the waters in cooperation with CPG companies and learn more about how to create synergies between online and physical retailing.
  • Posted on: 04/10/2017

    Are daily deal sites obsolete?

    Excitement of the deal is at the heart of the Groupon model and the value the company provides to consumers. Other BrainTrust colleagues have weighed in on how this devalues the retail/hospitality brands that "partner" with Groupon.From where I sit, it's difficult to imagine the constant creation and sustainability of "deal excitement" day in and day out for months and years to come. What was fresh yesterday is stale today and loathed tomorrow. The primary avenue for growth is bringing the concept to more countries.One caveat though; Groupon understands that consumers seek experiences and after acquiring LivingSocial, their inventory of deals seems to have more of these types of offers. If the company can move from mass to personalized offers and reposition itself in the mind of consumers, they may be able to survive longer than experts are forecasting.
  • Posted on: 04/10/2017

    Should the same-store sales metric be retired?

    Metrics are ways to abstract the business to allow comparison over time. As retailing has become more complex in terms of the myriad of paths and choices along the shopper journey the most traditional of all metrics, same-store sales, is losing value and relevance.To revive the metric requires agreement on a new definition, how it's measured, and consistency in use. We also need to ask, who is using this metric? Is it primarily for internal decision-making by the retailer or financial analysts seeking an "objective" measure of the health of the business?Retailers have many other ways to understand and measure the health and direction of their business. Any shortcomings come in what to do about those measures. As long as retailers have stores, they will always need to know how each store is performing on sales, assortment and profitability. Financial analysts, on the other hand, seek ways to upgrade or downgrade a sector or a company and like to slice the business in clean analytical categories that can be projected forward. Due to the choices, mobile technology and irreverence to traditional channels, consumers have made retailing analytically complex and no single measure can break through the fog for easy comparisons.There's a lot of hang-wringing about same-store sales and I am not a fan of that metric as we approach the third decade of the 21st century and the complete transformation of how retailing is done. A focus on the customer and how and why she buys is a far more fruitful and valuable exercise at this point. Adjustments to, or the complete overhaul of, the same-store sales metric will happen naturally. Put the customer at the heart of what you do, the rest will follow.
  • Posted on: 03/28/2017

    Do retailers need middle men to match them up with tech startups?

    If retail wasn't tough enough already, are we now expecting retailers to be experts at vetting early stage technology startups?The key to success is how the company understands time and customer value. In retail this translates to speed and agility in identifying customer trends and in creating a strategy to deliver a defensible value proposition that is highly desirable by the target market. From my experience over the last 30 years and due to the nature of resource limitations, companies are good in doing a set of activities that are closely related with high organizational and cost synergies. For retailers, that means focus on delivering value to their shoppers to keep them coming back again and again.Technology companies can help retailers better understand and expand their option horizon, by asking "what if?" Retailers, and business, need to understand how well the technology applies to their existing and emerging situations as well as feasibility at scale.Bottom line for me is that retailers can, should, and need to leverage technological advances to improve the value they deliver to their customers, but they should not be in the business of investing in early technologies. Retail is a business with very limited resources and attention spans. Retailers need to be very good on the awareness front and work in partnership with technology providers to identify the art of the possible while also ensuring feasibility and affordability. It’s wise to recall the advice by Peters and Waterman, in their 1982 classic “In Search of Excellence,” about the importance of sticking to the knitting. Don't underestimate the importance of having the right focus.
  • Posted on: 03/28/2017

    Is ‘experiential retail’ taking a new form?

    Just because "experiential" sits near the top of the buzzword bingo chart does not make it a bad concept, but perhaps a bit annoying.Experiential for me is about changing the organizational mindset from selling products to one that engages and connects with customers to co-create their own shopping and ownership experience. They do this by truly starting the journey from the customer's perspective and not in the merchant's office. It continues by leveraging technology and data to help deliver personalized experiences with a good dose of empowered store associates that are able to make decisions and can simplify the complex for the customer. It also extends well beyond the immediate purchase to actual ownership and the inevitable subsequent and related purchases.The value add comes in turning the moments of interactions into a personalized, differentiated and memorable experience in which the consumers can come to feel that they are owners and co-creators. It's the opposite of mass retail, but armed with the right mindset and technologies, experiential retail can scale and differentiate.
  • Posted on: 03/27/2017

    Will ‘ambitious store redesign’ lift Target to new heights?

    At Shoptalk, Target's CEO shared his vision on the company's prototype store and emphasized the importance of stores in the future of retailing which he described as being "digital."The Houston prototype should be a very active learning environment for Target as it journeys further into a digital future. Good store redesigns -- done with the consumer in mind -- create easier and more enjoyable shopping experiences that drive positive brand connections with customers. From what I've seen of this redesign, Target is on the right track.If the company stopped with just the redesign, though, it would be an incomplete effort. Target also views their future stores as locally-aware, experiential and easily shoppable "distribution centers." Their ability to manage inventory positions becomes critical delivering the complete package. So while it's necessary to create excitement, you must ensure that you execute on the basics.
  • Posted on: 03/23/2017

    Will customer tracking help save shopping malls?

    As stated by several of my fellow BrainTrust colleagues, transparent collection and use of private data is a must, so I will focus on the first part of the discussion question.Malls are facing an existential challenge and need to rethink their role and function at the end of the second decade of the 21st century. Their original model was valued around convenience, efficiencies and an expanded choice set for consumers.Across those values, the mall today is slowly being replaced by online marketplaces/aggregators such as Amazon and eBay. Retailers' own online shops, to the extent that they don't integrate the store into the complete shopping experience, can also work to reduce mall traffic. The business model of anchor stores, which provide stability and lifeblood to malls, are coming under attack.This landscape calls for much more than behavior tracking that sheds light on what happens once a shopper enters the mall. My sense is that mall and store operators know this information already, but maybe seek confirmation or hope for some surprising insight. So in and of itself this is fine but would be low on my priority list unless you use it to test a new mall layout with novel activities and community spaces.An interesting approach may be to use augmented reality to enhance testing of modified mall designs and virtual reality for greenfield designs. The bottom line is that the problem is much bigger than gaining insights to existing tracking behavior and more about making malls (however defined) more relevant again.

Contact Mohamed