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: 08/29/2016

    ConAgra, Unilever mull delivering meals to the home

    These are truly exciting times for the consumer!Anytime you have a growth area with above-average profit potential it will attract new entrants. So, while we have a new horizontal "category" in the making, the key skills required for success are also emerging as players adapt and attempt to scale.Large CPG companies are better suited at scaling than creating a business with newly defined (and dynamic) needs. It's best for food suppliers to evaluate their entire value proposition and ecosystem to understand how to connect in the meal kit delivery service area. For some partnering with a retailer for an easy pickup location will be ideal, for others acquiring a start-up for direct deliveries will be a better fit with their long-term strategy.The important point here -- in this specific new business area -- is that exploration, speed and agility taken together are more important than all the data research and focus group results. Far better results will happen from going out there and trying new limited approaches versus trying to data analyze your way to the perfect answer out there.On the flip side, retailers need to undergo the same thinking and position their stores and online offerings to meet the emerging needs and wants of their customers -- even if these fall outside of the classic grocery shopping model.
  • Posted on: 08/25/2016

    Can Best Buy build momentum with new services and IoT?

    As Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) once quipped, "the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated," so have been the repeated rumors of Best Buy's impending demise.Best Buy has been able to reinvent itself over the years while continuing to provide a common theme of being an electronics retailer. As technology and lifestyles change, so has the company's assortments, layout, products, services and experience (in-store, online, in-home). Attempts to compete on price with the lowest cost structure is not a feasible strategy, so Best Buy continues to reinvent the store and customer experience to set it apart.The current move to IoT and the connected home will provide not only a growth platform for years to come, but also a defensible differentiation executed at scale. Two thumbs up, way up!
  • Posted on: 08/18/2016

    Have consumers accepted dynamic pricing?

    Lots of different ways of defining dynamic pricing. No matter how you slice it though, we end up with one side asking how much can I get away with and the other side wondering if they were taken to the cleaners. That is not a good position to be in and is not sustainable.Yield management has been a boon for airlines and a bane for consumers. Monopoly-like conditions remove the need for transparency and sully the brand's relationship with its customer base.As they consider various flavor of dynamic pricing, retailers have to tread carefully here and weigh the pros and cons and the practices of such programs -- through the eyes of their customers.
  • Posted on: 08/18/2016

    Will Adidas’s Speedfactory disrupt shoe production?

    Speed and agility are two sides of the success coin that companies are looking to mint today. As companies use Big Data and predictive insights to tap into consumer trends, being agile becomes key in their ability to leverage these insights as is the speed to scale and execute on these insights. This is a winning move by Adidas. The company’s “Speedfactory” provides both agility and speed for the company to respond to local market conditions and delight both the retailer and consumer with the right products at the right stores ahead of other competitors.Think of these types of robot-staffed factories as supplementing and not replacing the mass production of core styles. The Speedfactories meet incremental, emerging consumer demands based on local conditions. It’s a viable and effective two-prong approach to keeping production costs low while slashing delivery time and keeping the products in sync with market demands. Others will pay close attention to how well Adidas executes, but I expect that they’ve already bought into the concept.
  • Posted on: 08/10/2016

    Will selling in fewer stores help Coach sell more handbags?

    Even with fancy math, you are facing serious headwinds attempting to sell more handbags and simultaneously increasing the brand's luxury quotient by cutting the number of doors you sell through and reducing markdown allowances.What you will clearly do is improve the brand's exclusivity which protects margins and emphasizes what the brand stands for. It rewards those that have purchased the brand while it protects the future value and cache of these "investments" by well-heeled consumers. However, to think that such a move will also increase unit sales is a far less likely proposition -- at least in the short- to medium-term.
  • Posted on: 08/10/2016

    Is it OK for brands to have emotions?

    Ken Lonyai is on to something here. Playing (and twisting) off of that, I see brands as reaching out and touching emotions and core values that consumers already have. A brand's ability to connect deeply not only depends on the message and medium, but on the actual interactions that consumers experience which reinforce the brand, making it real, relevant and authentic (walking the talk).For those consumers that connect emotionally with the brand, they will come to see the brand as standing for a value that they care about. It becomes as much subjective at the level of consumer as it is purposeful at the level of the brand.Instead of looking through the prism of generations, brands need to cater to common affinities that cut across these mega-cohorts. Lifestyles transcend generations and engaging along such dimensions should be more effective than broad-brush painting of birth year ranges.
  • Posted on: 08/09/2016

    Is a ‘DARK’ cloud looming for brands over GMO labeling?

    Brands are quickly changing their formulations and taking out artificial colors and such because they see those as means to rejuvenate and extend existing lines, to create new categories, to enter new markets and so on. Few are trailblazing for the sake of one political camp or the other. They're in the business of increasing shareholder value, but they are doing so in a time when consumers have unprecedented access to information and are far more sensitive about product transparency and a healthy lifestyle.For some consumers, as long as retailers make assortment and range decisions, then they will be seen as taking a position (even if passive) on this issue.Industry bodies and influential brands need to tread carefully and keep an eye for the long view so this does not turn into a Pyrrhic victory.
  • Posted on: 08/09/2016

    Are loss leaders a losing proposition for stores?

    Nope. Cherry-picking consumers have not diluted the effectiveness of loss leaders to drive traffic and sales. People love deals and unless they're off-the-scale disciplined, they'll walk out with more goods than they had planned to purchase. Get the customer into the store or to your website and convert.Despite the move to an "experiential economy," price is an attention grabber. Once you have that, the rest of the marketing and merchandising plan and store execution need to kick in.This is as basic as it gets in retailing and human psychology. It won't go away, but might look different in the future.
  • Posted on: 08/03/2016

    Will Wegmans take Publix on in Florida?

    This is a bit of a puzzle but now in their fourth generation of ownership, the Wegman family is not typical. Today most family-owned businesses tend to be less focused on growth in the form of geographic expansion and more on incrementally filling in their existing markets and squeezing more out of existing assets. There is a strategic battle brewing here and, in military parlance, Wegmans is perceived to have a soft southern front and Publix is willing and eager to test their resolve.It’s difficult to imagine the respective margins for Wegmans and Publix not being negatively impacted if they compete directly in a geography. Each of these retailers must have a ready answer to the dilemma of what they’re willing to sacrifice in profitability to achieve geographic growth and gain new market share in their attempt to replicate the cult-like following they enjoy in their core home markets.Wegmans is a fabulous brand with tremendous stores and experience. In the other corner, Publix has made its reputation on exceptional customer service and high quality. Any head-to-head competition can only be a boon for consumers as they get the best of two worlds. How much bleeding are the combatants willing to take before a retreat is necessary in order to keep the brand’s image intact?Unless one is prepared to die a slow death, once the core home market is invaded, a counter attack is necessary and unfortunately the serious bleeding begins. During that time, the consumers will enjoy the best of both worlds even if it may be short-lived. What will be interesting to watch is what competitors do during that time in the markets served by both companies.
  • Posted on: 08/02/2016

    Where should retailers concentrate their tech focus?

    Very few retail companies have the size and sufficiently deep pockets to embark on successful tech R&D. However, given the consumer’s adoption of technology as part of their lifestyle choices, retailers can't sit on their hands. Retailers' best bang for their buck is to focus on existing consumer-facing -- and consumer-influencing -- technologies and to partner with technology partners to bring their own business ideas and priorities to fruition. Rather than taking an "if you build it, they will come" approach, retailers need to become better “integration hubs” of innovation guided by strategic vision and an adaptive roadmap.In this great age of organizational specialization, trying to do too much eventually begets the peanut butter syndrome for IT. Retailers, as with other industries, need to focus and excel on the actions and outcomes that are most valued by their chosen segments of customers while partnering with those with the credibility and track record to support such an approach.
  • Posted on: 08/01/2016

    Walmart’s CMO talks time, money and message

    Since the Great Recession, consumers have become more frugal and more demanding about how they assign value to their retail purchases. Price is certainly on their mind, but how they combine price with convenience and experience has changed. Moreover, the segment that Walmart is targeting, “busy families,” is sufficiently varied that the equation is not fixed. That requires Walmart to go beyond a single message of price. So “live better” is a good umbrella within which the company can bring in the many ways consumers can find convenience.Appropriate use of technology is enhancing the shopping experience by redefining convenience and use of time. In a large-footprint store such as Walmart, finding the product you’re looking for can be daunting, so giving consumers access to the store’s inventory can be a boon but not if the underlying data is unreliable. Taking the friction out of the checkout and payment process can eliminate a real sore point at big box retailers. Improving the integration between physical and online gives consumers more options on how and when to shop.Bottom line, from a marketing message, the “save money, live better” tag is powerful and flexible enough to accommodate Walmart’s business objectives. The challenge is in how they can bring nuances to the message that resonate and not alienate. From an execution perspective, Walmart is using technology to make a positive impact on both the price and convenience elements of their messaging.
  • 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?

Contact Mohamed