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: 10/13/2017

    Are retailers shortchanging the digital transformation?

    This is what I call a core versus edge conversation. Core is the existing status quo; here it's the traditional store where nearly all commerce is transacted while digital channels are creeping in from the edges of the revenue picture and usually come from non-traditional players. To muddle things more, the influence of those digital touchpoints gets lost as operational and financial metrics continue to reflect the core. The traditional customer journey was straight forward starting with brand ads pulling you to a store to try a new product or reinforcing and validating your purchase decision. The trip to your favorite store was taken for granted and everyone was happy with that setup. The manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer and consumer all had clear roles and benefits in that equation. With the massive adoption of the Internet, social media and smartphones, the apple cart got turned over in unprecedented ways. It takes time, and a changed mindset, to recognize and then formulate a strategic response to the changes that are upending nearly every taken-for-granted assumption about how we do retail. Time and vivid examples of winners and losers in this new reality are what it will take to really get going on the digital transformation journey. It's not all doom and gloom, it's really a once in a generation opportunity to reinvent an industry and define those new characteristics. Leaving the comfort of what we know to journey into the seemingly unknown (it isn't) is fraught with danger, yet a wait-and-see approach will prove ruinous.
  • Posted on: 10/13/2017

    Is Kroger in denial about the magnitude of its challenges?

    While we can't really hear the discussion of the Kroger board of directors, I suspect the conversation may go facing another typical rough patch. However, history also credits Kroger as a top notch operator in the supermarket space for the past couple of decades with sound business decisions and a focus on efficiencies and robust operational processes.I have no doubt that focusing on the core elements of the business will reap rewards for Kroger. But will these benefits be sufficient to maintain leadership in the new grocery battleground? It's good to heed some advice from Intel's legendary CEO Andy Grove, "only the paranoid survive."There's a fundamental shift taking place in retail and while grocery was once thought to be immune from dramatic business changes, non-traditional competitors will make sure those changes are applied. Blocking and tackling are an absolute must, but you've got to run and connect on some deep routes.
  • Posted on: 10/09/2017

    Office Depot to transform into IT service giant after $1B deal

    The SMB space is ideally suited for a focused IT services company that's already well established in that segment. Combining traditional office supplies with digital office environment solutions takes care of the nuts and bolts of operating an office as well as the newfangled bells and whistles in a one stop shop. Good move by Office Depot.
  • Posted on: 10/04/2017

    Has Amazon really saved Whole Foods from its ‘Whole Paycheck’ trap?

    Price perception is difficult to change overnight. Over the long term, I fully expect Whole Foods' pricing model to moderate somewhat but never be set as a low-price competitor. Some grocery items will come down to being relatively comparable with other chains, but the entire basket will remain higher than average (but not at pre-acquisition levels).There is a quality perception for the products at Whole Foods and that is equally, if not more, important than broad price reductions. What Amazon needs to do is increase the foot traffic inside of the store and to further blend the physical experience with the digital one. The upshot is the eventual use of all the data across grocery visits and Amazon purchases. That's the real prize and value of the combination.
  • Posted on: 09/29/2017

    How can grocers improve their digital experiences?

    The digital experience in grocery is wide and varied -- and yes it is different from apparel. From store apps that capture your regular shopping lists, family events and milestones, allergies and food preferences to a complete rethinking of what role the physical store plays in the shopping experience as well as completely reinventing the checkout and payment process.Each of the above areas have a disruptive impact on the core operational flows: buying, merchandising, supply chain and store operations. Underlying all of this is the need to move the CIO from a focus on managing information to championing innovation and creating the future. Serious investments in digital technologies and new organizational structures are a must.The retail banner will continue to be relevant in a digital world as long as grocers shed their cautious reluctance and proactively dive into the digital pool. The rate of industry change continues to exceed the rate of company changes; closing the gap only gets harder with each passing quarter.
  • Posted on: 09/29/2017

    Jet.com is stepping out of Walmart’s shadow

    Jet.com is Walmart’s on-ramp to a no-speed-limit Autobahn. It provides Walmart with a range of options that simply do not exist under the mother ship.The Uniquely J grocery private label is a very good starting point to begin to counter Amazon’s grocery inroads. Grocery purchases are frequent and their repetitive nature is a quick way to build awareness, especially with Jet.com’s intent to target “metro Millennials.”
  • Posted on: 09/25/2017

    Would a radical partnership help Walmart thwart Amazon?

    Amazon is not invincible, but the company has been more in touch with what consumers want and expect from a shopping experience -- and it's not a singular path.Over the past two-or-so years, we've seen Walmart make a significant pivot to a more e-commerce-centered model through acquisitions and new delivery options. From my first-hand experience, the Walmart store employee is more friendly, helpful and down right chatty!While the fast change of consumer demands continues unabated, it does place pressure on companies to make new investments in technology and people. These moves do require creative alignments and arrangements with technology providers and others. However, the north star for all players ought to be their customer with a focus on defining, communicating and executing on that value better than any other competitor. Organizational focus and resources are a zero-sum game; if you choose to emphasize the competition, you will unduly neglect an opportunity to delight your customers.
  • Posted on: 09/25/2017

    Pirch: Is it a first mover case study or a flawed model?

    When your business model revolves around a high-end experience with serious price tags, an overly aggressive geographic expansion can doom your success through dilution of focus and execution.The business model is sound as long as brands continue to believe in the power of a physical setting to showcase their products and allow prospective buyers to indulge in a unique experience. I don't see any reason to begin discounting the value of a differentiated physical presence which Pirch represents.
  • Posted on: 09/21/2017

    Are retailers getting comfy with click & collect?

    One obvious thing is store inventory management, from having accurate on-hand numbers to presenting a consistent picture across the various systems. Related to that, the store employee should not be the accuracy back stop in the process. I had a recent click-and-collect experience where the order went through fine and 30 minutes later I received a call from the store stating that the items I ordered were seasonal and the store had been out of stock for a while.A less obvious challenge is that this is not a bolt-on process but a new way in how the customer wants to interact with the retailer. Having the customer as the driver of a cross-system process is disruptive to existing well-honed processes. This is further aggravated when the customer wants to interact via mobile -- from order updates, to updates, check-in/out, and payment. It’s easy to underestimate the organizational challenges and the need for clear cut responsibilities and crystal clear communications. It’s like having to communicate in a new language and not just a dialect of an existing one without the benefit of a face-to-face conversation.The right time to pursue add-on purchases would be while the customer is shopping online. Once they are in the store, make it super easy for them to get in and out.
  • Posted on: 09/20/2017

    Will retailers drive the next phase in digital marketing?

    I don’t think it’s fruitful to think of retailers as an ad network. While Google and Facebook represent the duopoly in online advertising, they not only lack transparency but have less than adequate proof of performance and value per click, and questionable ad placement practices.What retailers represent is a large set of digital inventory sites, outside of the walled gardens, for publishers and brands to access and gain higher quality placement and more transparent ad performance. On the downside, today’s programmatic advertising world is divided between sellers (digital inventory owners) and buyers (brands wanting to reach the right customer with the appropriate message) with ad agencies and ad tech companies playing an important intermediary role.Retailers can definitely benefit by exploring the opportunity around programmatic advertising as long as they have a clear vision and strategy about how digital marketing fits in their core customer strategy. Keep in mind that retailers are becoming both inventory owners (sellers of digital space) as well as buyers of digital space in their desire to reach consumers.
  • Posted on: 09/20/2017

    Kohl’s to accept product returns for Amazon

    Short-term this will generate gains in increased foot-traffic (incremental or increased repeat visits) by Amazon Prime members whose profile are similar to Kohl’s typical customer. Longer-term, I believe Kohl’s is addressing future uncertainty by building various partnerships with Amazon as the company pursues options in a digital future.As long as Kohl’s derives tangible value from its alignment with Amazon, it will continue on its current path of limited testing and learning with some deliberate and selective roll-outs across a region or entire chain. What would be too far? If the arrangement with Amazon becomes so one-sided that incremental value only accrues to Amazon. Another would be if Kohl’s finds that its decision horizon has become more restricted due to the Amazon relationship.
  • Posted on: 09/19/2017

    Does aggressive seasonal hiring portend a merry retailing Christmas?

    The variance in hiring is reflective of management's anticipated business volume over the Christmas selling season. The general sense I have is one that is much more positive than the rampant headlines about store closings.There's no doubt that the store will continue to be the key interaction stage between retailers and customers for decades to come. With the peak in-store visits around the holidays, it makes sense for retailers to over-deliver on the in-store promise through more well-trained seasonal hires. However I expect more caution will prevail when considering new long-term hires after the season.
  • Posted on: 09/19/2017

    Five skills every retail manager needs to succeed

    Bob provides a relevant and valuable list for store managers. Having a bias for serving the customer is an important one for me. The customer has made an effort to enter your store to address a need, want or desire. The store manager needs to never lose sight that the sale is the consummating win/win of the retail formula where the customer gets what she needs and the retailer recognizes revenue while moving inventory.
  • Posted on: 09/19/2017

    Toys ‘R’ Us files for bankruptcy, enters ‘new era’

    Toys "R" Us had been a venerable fixture in most families' holiday shopping plans for decades. The redefinition of convenience sparked by new retail purchase and delivery models and partnerships have seamlessly blended the physical and digital while elevating data to a strategic competitive weapon in the creation of personalized shopping experiences. But before all that, there are basics in retailing that must be consistent and in place: from having a clean, fresh and exciting "in-store playground" (as mentioned by Art Suriano) to ensuring the right inventories are on the shelves in an easy-to-shop format.Revamped financial arrangements are an important first step as they provide the necessary time to make the needed changes. So while a new era can certainly be had, it requires that it forgets its past successes in order to find a very different model of what success will look like in retailing in the coming decade. To the extent it achieves this, Toys "R" Us will be able to appeal to its constituents and gain control over its future. I'm optimistic.
  • Posted on: 09/07/2017

    Is Kohl’s giving away the store to Amazon?

    Thanks Naomi, I believe the future retailing landscape will be much different from the one we've been accustomed to. There's no way to eliminate uncertainty, but we can set up the organization to take advantage of the changes we anticipate will take place.

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