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: 06/19/2017

    Did Amazon just patent tech that could end showrooming in its stores?

    When I first read the news and patent I did find it ironic and amusing at the same time given the filing date and the patent ownership.On further reflection, I can see this patent by Amazon as an attempt to keep others from blocking showrooming in stores. The company may be hoping that the patent covers with sufficient breadth (yet specific enough) how to combat showrooming, so others are unable to actually defeat showrooming under the scenarios covered by the patent.That doesn't preclude Amazon from exercising portions of the patent such as alerting a sales associate so they can salvage the deal.Patents give the legal owner the rights to use and keep others from using those patented processes and technologies.
  • Posted on: 06/16/2017

    What happens now that Amazon is acquiring Whole Foods?

    Irrespective of any superlatives we may use today about the Amazon-Whole Foods deal, it is difficult to overstate the deal’s long-term impact on the retail and consumer goods industries and their supply chains.It’s always darkest before a new dawn. The turmoil in retail today is a precursor to a brilliant renaissance where the leaders will meld new DNA, agile learning organization and robust technology all wrapped around a customer-centric strategic model that moves retailing from moving and selling widgets to giving consumers exactly what they need, when they need it so they consume it the way they wish and do it with ease and convenience -- turning purchases into automated impulse buys triggered by subconscious needs. At the risk of understating the impact, here are several points to consider:
    1. Customer experience gets a major boost. This acquisition shatters the artificial division between physical and digital. Consumers weave in and out of these realms without giving them any thought – it’s a singular customer experience, end-to-end. Competition over customer experience will happen at that level.
    2. Customer data is turning into gold. When you are able to combine entire lifestyle and purchase habits through store visits, purchases and online activities you are able to create unparalleled insight into the potential needs and desires at the individual customer level. This acquisition further elevates the criticality of data in any future customer interaction and business success.
    3. This is the opening chapter in a new retail paradigm. Don’t look at this as the end game, but the start of the new retailing reality where data, converged retail models and the must-have distribution points and operational excellence to execute personalized retailing and building a cost moat simultaneously.
    4. Margin pressures will rise across retail and consumer products companies. It's difficult to avoid the Amazon Effect just as it was with Walmart in the 1990s as we saw them turning unparalleled supply chain efficiencies into cost advantage in the store. There will be ripples throughout the broader industry and eventually on the U.S. economy by boosting consumer purchase power. The real winner here is the consumer as disruption and competition drive new business models and, paradoxically, consumer options.
    Not only does this accelerate the redefinition of what retail stands for early in the 21st century, it will up the game across every facet of creating and delivering value in retail.
  • Posted on: 06/15/2017

    How can grocers capitalize on small brand allure?

    Smaller brands in the grocery channel are successful because of exactly that: being small. Small is beautiful and conveys uniqueness and represents the anti mass-market. So combine consumer demand for fresh packaging from obscure brands and what you get is a complete reversal in the traditional relationship between retailer and CPG company. Instead of mega-brands luring customers into the stores through mass appeal, the stores become a place to discover new brands and it's even better if these brands have local roots.Working with smaller brands means you have to view them less as a source of cash flow and more as a partner in the branding of your own stores. The dilemma is that you want these smaller brands to be successful but not be wildly so; otherwise they risk losing their attractiveness to your customers. This suggests that you should actively encourage these small emerging brands, cultivate and invest in multiple sets of new relationships and be more aggressive in creating unique assortments that are in sync with local tastes.
  • Posted on: 06/14/2017

    Who owns the in-store experience?

    Who owns the in-store customer experience? I agree with Bob on the crucial role of store operations given their close contact with customers and being the face of the brand. The store associates can validate and supplement the insight gained from data and, with some help from technology, are able to influence the customer in the retail moment.If we step back a bit, the problem gets even more dicey. The crux of the matter is, who is responsible and can execute consistently against the overall customer experience -- irrespective of where it takes place? Technology can enable, merchants can select the products and assortments, marketing creates the communications and can identify the messages and set the tone across all points of interaction.It’s a widely distributed, multi-faceted problem, so maybe part of the answer is having a strong CEO focus on the primacy of the customer experience and making it explicit and infused throughout all organizational teams. Creating empathy for the customer by thoroughly investigating and investing in the customer journey can raise sensitivity and awareness of the impact each team has on the customer (and others in the organization) and eventually show up in store performance such as sales comps and margins.
  • Posted on: 06/12/2017

    Is Walmart’s innovation leader right that the AR revolution is a sure thing?

    Mr. Ansani is spot-on when he says, "[consumers] want to engage all their senses. It's pretty much a convergence of all of the senses that gives them a sense of understanding of what it is they’re buying, why and telling that story."To the extent that AR, in a digitally-charged world, can bring in multiple-sense experience and help tell and bring that story to the consumer, it will be a big element of retail's future.For many in retail we can say that it's always been about experience. The biggest change today is that the main character in this experience is no longer the product with the customer stepping into the story. Now the product has to enter into the story as the supporting cast for the main character: the customer. It's subtle but critical to creating a successful future for retailers.Mr. Ansani is taking the right steps as long as he views technologies, like AR, as being in a supporting role in delivering the experience customers deserve and, in the future will, adamantly demand.
  • Posted on: 06/08/2017

    What does it take for retailers to thrive amid shifting consumer preferences?

    Of the five takeaways here, acting early is the most important, while capturing the entire lifeline of the customer is the one most frequently neglected by retailers.On acting early, it’s not about acquiring customers as Mr. Wais stated, because any retailer that views the owning of or acquiring a customer is framing the retailer-customer relationship in outdated terms. Consumers -- and especially Millennials -- no longer are willingly playing the brand or banner loyalty game of the past 50 years. So acting early here is about retailers investing early to test out new business models and processes to engender trust with their customers, and invite them to come back again to make their purchases (online and in physical stores).Capturing the entire lifeline of the customer makes a lot of sense to retailers but is hard to do because this necessitates a reliance on identifying, collecting, and analyzing data over the long term at a very granular level. It’s about taking the long view of the business, but not ignoring individual transactions.Both of these takeaways underlie the drastic change in the retailer-customer relationship. They also acknowledge the near infinite choices consumers have in how they spend their time and money as well as share of their experiences with others.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2017

    Retail mash-up: What if Macy’s and Disney had a baby?

    Disney's DNA is all about the guest experience. That translates to creating all customer-facing interactions and processes with the customer in mind above all else. It's about being zealously consistent, packaged in fresh and exciting offerings that transcend physical reality. It's aspirational in the sense that this is where your dreams can come true.So any babies from such a union would meld efficiencies in merchandising and back office processes with fanatic focus on delighting customers in the store. That would translate into delivering memorable experiences that are not motivated by commissions, ringing the fixed registers and scanning one more 20 percent off discount coupon.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2017

    Should Amazon buy Macy’s?

    I'm in violent agreement with Dick on this one :-).Macy's fit in Amazon's retail strategy is a stretch and that strategy can be better served through other brick-and-mortar options (not necessarily acquisitions). Look at what Amazon has done recently: Amazon Go and Amazon Books -- these represent using technology to deliver fast, convenient, friction-less commerce and the bridging of online data with a curated physical presence. A Macy's acquisition only makes sense if Mr. Bezos decides to "reinvent the department store model from top to bottom" as suggested by Dick.Amazon is great at creating new business models instead of fixing problems in existing business models. With all due respect to Macy's, a true iconic retailer with a storied past, Amazon ought to pass on this one.
  • Posted on: 05/31/2017

    Will personalized pricing only lead to more discounting?

    Personalized or customized pricing is a manifestation of what technology enables companies to do in pricing their goods and services at the individual customer level. While the practice may be questioned on ethical grounds, it does not run afoul of the law unless it is shown to be part of pricing collusion among competitors. Yet when consumers in studies are told how their personalized price was set and that different prices were charged for the same product, a majority see it as unfair.Going down the personalized pricing path for its own sake is risky and doing so without regards to its fit with the rest of the customer experience levers is disastrous. Just because technology makes it possible to create legal first-degree price discrimination doesn’t mean it should be a primary driver in your strategic arsenal. The practice is here to stay and needs to be part of retailers' larger strategy revolving around creating and delivering value to their customers. Consumers do expect to get something of value for sharing their personal information including purchase history, wish lists and browsing history.Keep the customer’s perception in mind and realize that customers do value transparency and are quick to condemn when they perceive unfair treatment.
  • Posted on: 05/25/2017

    Is a self-service model Macy’s ticket to success?

    In this case, self-service addressed an immediate bottleneck in the process and did generate improved sales. There is nothing more frustrating than making the decision on which shoe style and color you want to buy and then waiting in a queue for the salesperson to check for your size in the backroom. Either increase the number of sales associates in the shoe department or give your customers access to your physical shoe inventory. The traditional value of a shoe salesman went out decades ago unless you are in the high-end shoe business -- then the human element is invaluable.Macy's image and branding remain in flux. Whatever they do with their shoe department needs to support their brand image and pricing strategy over the long term. There are other opportunities that meld online and offline that Macy's can explore around selling shoes. Don't let the current process limit what's possible.
  • Posted on: 05/25/2017

    Are some retailer CEOs too old to learn new tricks?

    Age is only a byproduct of the root culprit that is past success.Human nature is such that we tend to attribute our success to our decisions and actions and once we hit it big, we become notoriously linked to the strategy, business model and approach that delivered the blinding success. Our personal credibility and brand become attached to the past despite apparent changes to the demand and purchase patterns or the general business environment. We become part of the status quo and defend it to the end.Another aspect of such hubris is the use of technology. As part of the industry and the status quo, successful leaders tend to view technology as a way to bring productivity and automation to existing processes and business models rather than as a way to bring change, to gain further differentiation or to create new value for their customers (not just more of the same).Lastly, while most will agree to the direction of change, few will appropriately recognize and plan for the pace of change. The longer they wait to make the shift to the emerging business reality, the greater the gap, which demands a near herculean effort with a related shift in resources and investments attempting to play catch-up.Failure to recognize the accelerating pace of change, having realized wildly past successes and a lack of fresh perspectives from outside the immediate industry in the C-suite combine to create a perfect storm for retailers that have been at the cusp of a consumer-driven mobile technology revolution.
  • Posted on: 05/24/2017

    Will recruiting military vets give Walmart and Amazon a competitive edge?

    Kudos to Walmart, Amazon and other companies that are tapping into this treasure trove of talent! As a U.S. Navy veteran, I see a lot of business benefits in actively recruiting and creating veteran programs.Whether you're a former submariner or aviator, you have cultivated leadership skills and experiences in high-pressure situations that are invaluable. From team building to cutting through information clutter, from planning to executing, from being a learner to inspiring others, the military veteran brings dedication and discipline to any organization.People are the ultimate differentiator in any organization. Strategies, technologies and business models can all be copied. What remains impossible to copy is creating the right type of culture -- and people -- to operate at speed and with agility to execute and learn from doing.Bottom line, these military veteran programs are invaluable to the success of the companies in question and let's not think that you can't have creativity and discipline together.
  • Posted on: 05/24/2017

    Will Amazon’s use of data transform how retailers operate stores?

    Not only will Amazon be successful in bringing the online experience to the physical store, it will make the store experience even richer than the online one. The company is still working through how to bring the value created online to the physical store in a hybrid shopping environment. In this new model, the discovery-to-usage journey acknowledges the infinite moves across the physical and digital realms in any journey.Data is critical to the future of retailing. Aggregate data on products, usage and affinity come together with shopper-specific data to create a highly personalized and contextual experience. We are in the first inning of creating such an experience and Amazon is well on the path of building such a shopping environment as it executes its physical store strategy while leveraging the years of online data.Retailers are at different stages of preparing for this new retail model. What's important is that in this new game, the sooner you invest in the right technology, begin to put your plan together, recruit the right team members and start practicing, the sooner you will be able to incorporate feedback and learning into the organization. This isn't a "create once and forget," but an ongoing dynamic use of data to create a desirable shopping environment that is valued by your customer base.
  • Posted on: 05/19/2017

    Is Walmart on track to offer customers a seamless shopping experience?

    To date, Walmart and Amazon have been able to uniquely define an entire industry. Other companies do matter and although their impact is meaningful, it is more limited in scope. There is no such thing as the "likes of Amazon." There is only one Amazon, just as there's only one Walmart.Walmart's latest earnings report is a validation of their strategy and the acquisitions they've made. The impressive online sales results demonstrate the company's belief in what it will take to succeed in retail's future landscape. Walmart did not achieve its brick-and-mortar dominance overnight and while building the online business cannot take as long, it also cannot happen overnight. Walmart is learning how to turn its stores into points of differentiation against Amazon. The company understands that the future in retail blends physical and digital as the boundaries melt away and become unrecognizable. Walmart has a huge fixed investment in their stores and it would be foolish and irresponsible for them to not leverage that investment as they frame what represents customer value over the coming decade.Bottom line, history is not on the side of Walmart in being able to stay on top in retailing. However, they have and are taking concrete steps to change the company's DNA and, as long as they don't allow hubris to take hold, they have a legitimate shot at defining and delivering retail's future operational model. They also recognize that Amazon will be there as well.
  • Posted on: 05/12/2017

    Do customer reviews suffer from a herd mentality?

    An individual's experience with a product is far more important than objective reviews. The former is personal and emotional, the latter is more logical and rational.I would not mix the two nor would I compare them. Objective product reviews represent one set of decision criteria while customer reviews are another category all together.Retailers should keep their hands out of anything that smacks of manipulating customer reviews.

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