PROFILE

Mohamed Amer

Vice President, Executive Communications, Office of the Co-Presidents, SAP Industries
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. Most recently, Mohamed was the Global Head of Strategic Communications for the Consumer Industries at SAP (Retail, Consumer Products, Wholesale Distribution, and Life Sciences). In his current role, he is responsible for executive communications in SAP's Office of the Co-Presidents for all industries. 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: 10/18/2018

    Will rising costs throw a wrench in e-commerce operations?

    Everywhere we turn there are signs of inflation from cost of products (manufactured or sourced), to shipping and wages. These will make their way to consumers in higher prices, less (deeper) discounting, and rewarding of bigger basket purchases. On the retailing side, technology will continue to offer opportunities to increase productivity and redefine what people do and what robots and embedded machine learning can do to shift labor content to higher value outputs. For now, there's no reason that retailers can't judiciously pass some increases in COGS while working to offset the rest via use of intelligent technology. However, once the business cycle turns negative, the companies with healthy balance sheets will be the ones to survive and invest as they prepare for the next business upcycle -- this is inevitable.
  • Posted on: 10/15/2018

    Will anything change for Sears after Chapter 11?

    Sears' trajectory has gone from retail innovator to debt accumulator. From catering to all the needs for the home and farm to "unlocking" value from real estate and brands. From merchandising prowess to financial (re)engineering. The die was cast years ago and every roll comes up snake eyes.
  • Posted on: 10/03/2018

    Trader Joe’s success is a matter of values

    It's impossible to say that one value reigns supreme over the others - the power of each Trader Joe's value is made all the more impactful by being part of the larger set in a consistent fashion. Their "wow" customer service may be the one most suited to rise to the top. Trader Joe's treats each customer as if they're their only customer through high-quality products with clean ingredients, priced at superior value in an easy-to-shop store. The crew members are friendly, helpful and ready to answer any question or offer recipe ideas. Their checkout lines are numerous and move faster than any other store I've ever visited. Yes, as a family we've been shopping at Trader Joe's for the last 25 years and would miss it terribly if it weren't in our neighborhood.
  • Posted on: 09/27/2018

    How will AI transform the supply chain?

    The basic change from gut and guesswork to cloud-based AI-fueled decisions for daily store demands is a big near-term area of benefit that touches the customer, the store, and the upstream supply chain. The benefits include more accurate forecasting models, more efficient use of store staff time with real-time access to inventory and order data, and a continuous AI learning loop using the point of sale data. This scenario makes a significant step into eliminating short shelf-life food waste, more efficient use of store labor and happy consumers finding the items they want.
  • Posted on: 09/26/2018

    Does business need more and better storytellers?

    To many the entire notion of storytelling in our data-driven world may seem antiquated. This view couldn't be further from reality. With the exception of machine-to-machine interactions, communications is crucial to any human interaction and decision-making. Storytelling is core to the human experience and stories are what ground us and provide a sense of purpose, identity, and continuity between the past, present and a future vision. Stories can take us to something bigger than we are, to tap into universal themes and issues. I also go back to Aristotle when looking at communications and storytelling. Mr. Gallo's bringing forth of Ethos, Logos and Pathos are spot on to the overall effectiveness and believability of a speaker. However, I focus on the Pathos, or emotional dimension, through Aristotle's formula for telling stories that focus on the audience through feelings of pity, fear and catharsis. The audience will feel pity for the character as the storyteller puts the character through some undeserved misfortune. The character gets into even more perilous situations as the emotional connection with the audience continues to build. Through this emotional connection and self-identification, the audience experiences fear. When you release the character from the dangerous situation they’re in, the audience experiences a catharsis. it's a similar formula to struggle, suffering, overcoming. It's also similar to Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey. Bottom line, storytelling and connecting with your audience -- any audience -- requires an appreciation of the human need to make sense of our world and are a powerful mechanism to paint a picture of a world worth pursuing.
  • Posted on: 09/25/2018

    Is Eddie Lampert looking to save Sears or suck it dry?

    The capital structure around Sears is unique and revolves around the roles that Mr. Eddie Lampert holds: as Sears CEO, main shareholder, lender and real estate landlord (via ESL Investments). There is no doubt that Mr. Lampert's pursuit of a Sears transformation is real (even if it appears to be a moving target) as evidenced by the debt drawdown plan, shuttering unprofitable stores, shedding of assets, and so on. We can argue the (de)merits of the strategy: its appropriateness, timing, and execution over the past several years - but historical share price, quarter to quarter performance, sales projections, and company bond pricing all point to disappointing business results and a dire future. Regardless of all that, the twist is that for Mr. Lampert the downside is greatly limited by capital structure design. Wearing two hats as retail and hedge fund CEO, the former became a herculean task and so the pivot to extract value via his hedge fund role.
  • Posted on: 09/25/2018

    Will AT&T give Starbucks competition as the new ‘third place’ for people to hang out?

    The real story here is that AT&T is looking for ways to be an integral part of the consumer's life. Whether that is a student, entrepreneur, or couple of people looking for a good spot with a free Wi-Fi network. Strategically, the company cannot be simply an anonymous infrastructure of pipes enabling all the potential of a connected society. The AT&T retail concept is one of several other steps the company is taking to associate the brand with the benefits of being connected, of creating communities with similar interests and simply being part of the local social fabric. Good coffee and award winning baristas may be part of the draw, but consumers will stay if the location is convenient, the Wi-Fi is strong with easy access and if the environment is warm and conducive to creative conversations and not a replication of a sterile office setting. And oh, by the way, they can even sell some new gadgets and add-on accessories. The potential is high and is definitely worth the effort.
  • Posted on: 09/21/2018

    What would 3,000 AmazonGo stores do to the U.S. retail landscape?

    That's right Jeff. Amazon's culture is a great example of what Denise Yohn calls Fusion. The external brand and the internal culture create a virtuous circle of influence. The more these two elements are in harmony, the stronger the brand will be. I don't believe Jeff Bezos is concerned about how the rest of the world grades their multi-pronged strategy. People sometimes forget that Amazon survived the dot.com boom/bust and had not shown a full year profit for its first seven years as a public company. As an aside, the real test for Amazon will happen along two fronts and an uncertain time horizon: 1. Political and regulatory pressure as the company continues to grow and disrupt adjacent industries 2. Surviving the leadership transition once Jeff Bezos decides to focus elsewhere
  • Posted on: 09/20/2018

    What would 3,000 AmazonGo stores do to the U.S. retail landscape?

    Strategy's trenches are chock full of those guilty of "fighting the last war." They've prepared and optimized to win the last battle rather than preparing with urgency for a different future. The latest reporting on Amazon's aggressive growth of up to 3,000 cashierless stores by 2021 is part strategic signaling to competitors and suppliers and part creating a bold and audacious goal to energize and focus employee efforts. On the external front, it raises the stakes necessary to play in the retail arena through additional fixed investments and embedding of artificial intelligence into future store operations and the entire value chain from supplier to consumption (and enjoyment) by consumer. The prospect is that many new formats and types of stores will become another growth vector for consumer goods companies which in turn will keep them interested in maintaining strong relationships and be in step with Amazon's plans as retailer and platform. On the internal front, Amazon does a solid job of communicating what the company stands for and the values cherished by Jeff Bezos. Such a culture requires constant doses of audacious goals that focus on customer service and upset the existing status quo. That is Amazon's life blood and whether or not the current reporting got the total store number or target date correct is less important; Amazon stands for big, audacious decisions that seek to change the rules of the game -- and at times even create new games with their own set of rules. Amazon Go is a first step but by no means an end-state against which competition can target; it's a continuous journey to discover and deliver new sets of consumer values based on economic, technological and lifestyle changes taking place.
  • Posted on: 09/12/2018

    Bonobos CEO says Walmart’s evolution mirrors Netflix

    Yes, this is a Netflix moment for retail and consumer companies. Platforms are necessary but not sufficient to win big. In our context here, brands complete the strategic picture. They do so in an increasingly complex ecosystem of classical friends and enemies coming together to deliver new sets of values and benefits to consumers and participants alike. Keep in mind that Mr. Dunn (and Walmart leadership) does not view brands and platforms as mutually exclusive determinants: "one of the things we believe is the future is not just about platforms, it’s about brands." As long as consumers continue to animate behavior through feelings and emotions, then brands will have center stage. Their ability to scale efficiently and profitably is more in line with access to and leverage of platforms and ecosystems organized around new value sets.
  • Posted on: 09/10/2018

    Should the outdoor industry welcome selling on walmart.com?

    Competitors have historically lined up along company-specific dimensions such as product and brand in a zero-sum game. That made ample sense with inherent business value characterized in products. Today, value realization is centered on the individual consumer and is changing the competitive battle lines. A renewed focus on how value is created and realized will help companies navigate this consumer-driven business landscape. To bring this new value to the consumer, companies must include technology, product, personalization, access, convenience and timing in a frictionless commerce mode in the overall business design; moreover, it's increasingly difficult for all of this to come together -- at scale -- by a single player. An ecosystem of companies is necessary in order to deliver and -- even more importantly -- derive future business benefits. A traditional view of competition will not hold for long as consumers' expanding choice sets, access to technology, and rising expectations force new relationships within and across industries that are based on redefined value sets. The opposition to Walmart's efforts in this case reflect strategies that are out of sync with the emerging realities of a digital business landscape that is centered on the consumer.
  • Posted on: 09/05/2018

    Can Kroger turn Cincinnati into an alt-Silicon Valley?

    This is important not only for Kroger but for other Fortune 500 players in the region (nine by my last count). For Kroger to nurture an innovation culture that can attract new tech talent is strategic and smart. This is a must-do effort if they want to compete with the other large companies in the area as well as shine a bright light on the exciting and highly visible consumer-facing innovations that the retail industry affords.
  • Posted on: 09/05/2018

    Nike campaign tests ‘all publicity is good publicity’ adage

    Nike has a tradition of appealing to youth and being controversial. The brand's valuable cachet is not built on being accommodating or compromising. What reverence exists is focused on taking incredible risks that define one's identity and aspirations. That said, the Colin Kaepernick campaign is in line with Nike's roots and strengths. Despite the ongoing controversy, this is a powerful (and risky) statement that will help and not harm the brand and sales results going into the football season.
  • Posted on: 08/30/2018

    Is Amazon a major threat to Trader Joe’s?

    Whole Foods' loyal customers are more likely to fit in the "urban influencers" category and with Amazon's acquisition, the company is slowly and steadily eliminating stigma of its "Whole Paycheck" reputation; and it's doing so without reducing quality and appeal -- although some supplier relationships may be tested. In effect Amazon is expanding the customer base for Whole Foods and that has to impact other supermarkets that offer more organic and healthy food choices. However, given the size of a Whole Foods and its range of assortment, I view it as less of a threat to Trader Joe's and more of a threat to more traditional grocers increasing their share of organic and healthy product choices. Trader Joe's is extremely efficient in the checkout process -- and checkout is a real nuisance at any grocery store. Additionally, their heritage of high-quality and low-priced private label products remains unbeatable. Combined with their small footprint, Trader Joe's is easy and fun to shop, with consistently low pricing, superb products and a stable work force. They are truly one's neighborhood grocery store. Bottom line, Trader Joe's should continue to do well by excelling at what they've done in the past; other grocery chains are the ones that need to pay heed to Whole Foods' move from Whole Paycheck to right value. One additional comment: I believe Prime members have a 10 percent discount on yellow tagged and sale item, not on the entire store (at least not yet).
  • Posted on: 08/28/2018

    Walmart turns to Moosejaw for curation

    When your audience can be well defined along specific product and lifestyle dimensions, a curated offering can form a sound and differentiated product strategy. I'm less confident about how well a single curation strategy can serve a broader mass audience but online testing can reveal potential distinct opportunities based on some aggregations of individual consumer tastes and interests.

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