Steve Montgomery

President, b2b Solutions, LLC

Steve is president of b2b Solutions, a consultancy that specializes in working with retailers and suppliers in the convenience retail/petroleum marketing industry. He has over 30 years of experience in top management positions in both entrepreneurial and large corporate business environments within the convenience retail/petroleum marketing industry.

After beginning his career as one of its franchisees, Steve served as President and Member of the Board of Directors for Dairy Mart Corporation. He then held the positions of General Manager for C-Stores and Manager of Convenience Retail Strategies and Programs for Amoco Oil Company.

He led Amoco’s efforts to develop and roll out their state of the art Split Second concept and to consolidate their various direct retail operations into a single entity. While at Amoco, he was also a member of its Retail Systems Steering and Facility Design Coordination Committees.

Steve has been actively involved with the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) since 1976. He is the only person to have been elected to its Retailer Board and Supplier Board of Directors.

He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agricultural and Food Economics from the University of Massachusetts, and a MBA in Marketing from W. New England University. He currently serves as member of its International Business Advisory Board.

Steve is a frequent contributor to articles on the convenience retail/petroleum marketing industry and is a frequent speaker at industry functions. He has worked with NACS as a Program Director and Program Moderator on topics ranging Foodservice to the Non-Traditional Competitors.

b2b Solutions retail clients have ranged from single store operators to large multinational firms. These include such companies as Chevron USA Products Company, Crescent Oil Company, Exxon Company, USA, LG-Caltex, Lekkerland (Switzerland) Ltd., Mobil Oil Corporation, Murphy Oil USA, NACS, Pride Convenience, Inc., and Shell Canada Products Limited. Supplier clients include Coca-Cola USA, Food Concepts, Inc., Harmonic Systems, Inc., Kraft Foods, MGC Communication, Inc., and Westec Interactive.

Other Links from Steve Montgomery:

b2b Solutions, LLC Web Site

  • Posted on: 05/26/2017

    Will independent grocers turn it around in 2017?

    The short answer is yes, it is more difficult than ever to be an independent grocer. The competitive set they face is stronger than ever. They are competing with ever larger supermarket chains as the industry continues to consolidate. The concentration of buying power provides the large chains with a lower cost of goods, greater brand awareness and access to tools and capital that an indie cannot duplicate.The independent grocer is also finding it harder to have a cost effective, reliable source of supply. This is playing out here in Chicago where Central Grocers has recently declared bankruptcy. Central supplied 400 independent grocery stores in the Chicagoland area.What independent grocers bring to the market is the ability to define themselves by customizing their offers to meet the needs of their consumers. This may be in the products they sell or the manner in which they deliver it. For example one of Central Grocer’s customers, Sunset Foods, is known for its fresh products and its amazing customer service.
  • Posted on: 05/25/2017

    Can Hershey help grocers transition to a digitally-dominated future?

    Candy is still a top-ten category for c-stores. The latest results for the industry ranked it number six in sales and virtually tied for fourth in gross margin dollars generated. Little if any of the candy and other in-store merchandise is sold anywhere but in the B&M locations, nor is it likely to be for a very long time.The c-store industry has been referred to by most CPG companies as “high cost to serve.” This may be why what is true regarding vendor calls for Tony in his supermarket is true for the vast majority of c-store operators. While there has been a great deal of consolidation in both the supermarket and c-store industries, the National Association of Convenience Stores reported in its "2016 Sate of the Industry" that 97,359 of the industry’s 154,195 locations were independents.
  • Posted on: 05/25/2017

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

    You mean it's not now? My latest ventures into their stores would indicate it already is.
  • Posted on: 05/24/2017

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

    There are several advantages to hiring veterans. Although I expect some will react negatively to this comment, there is a public relations value that comes with making statements about their hiring. Before you eviscerate me, please note I am a veteran.One of the real values is that the companies are hiring people who are experienced in working in environments with others from diverse backgrounds and with varying skill sets. This can benefit the vet as well, by providing them with insights that go beyond the technical skills they may have learned while serving. Veterans have also learned to function as a member of a team to accomplish goals.I applaud both companies for their stance and would hope others will join with them to hire and support our veterans.
  • Posted on: 05/22/2017

    Will Hy-Vee’s grocerant strategy set it apart from rivals?

    Foodservice is one of the best examples of channel blurring. It seems that every retail channel is seeking to get into foodservice or expand their foodservice offer. As others’ comments have indicated, foodservice is not just another category. To be successful at it the retailers have to understand it is a different business and requires a different skill-set to do well.The grab-and-go approach has a much better chance of success for the majority of supermarkets than does dine-in. The reason why is simple -- grab-and-go can fulfill the needs of more customers for more meal occasions. Those grocers that do sit-down dining had better makes sure they do it well. Failure to do so will negatively impact the overall perception of the entire operation.
  • Posted on: 05/22/2017

    How should self-checkout be incentivized?

    "Self-checkouts work best for small baskets of items" should be the mantra for those considering their deployment. Customers with a large number of items may not mind being behind others with similar-sized purchases. However those with just a few items really hate being in the same line as people with big orders.We all know that the checkout process is the least liked part of the shopping experience. Making customers with 60 items do a self-checkout is punishing them.I'm not sure what the incentive should be in terms of a discount but if I had 60 items and was told to use the self-checkout, I would walk out of the store.
  • Posted on: 05/19/2017

    Is Dick’s Sporting Goods smart to wait on more retail failures before opening new stores?

    I agree with Dick’s strategic approach to expansion. Wall Street loves expansion and announcements of new store openings generally drives stock prices higher. However, any short-term gains that this brings are offset in the longer term when store comps turn south. Managing a public company for the long term takes internal fortitude.
  • Posted on: 05/17/2017

    How many training hours are appropriate for store-level workers?

    There should be a clear understanding that training involves three separate areas. The first one is the initial training when an employee is hired. The extent of that training needed will vary based on the complexity of the retailer’s offer and the role the employee is going to be placed in. The second training should be when an employee changes job functions, for example when an employee is transferred to a new area or department of the store.The third type of training is the ongoing training that happens regardless of the employee's role or function. Most retailers fail to acknowledge the need for this and do a poor job at it. Products, processes, etc. change and, when they do, that means the employees who handle those areas need training on what this means for the customer and them.How much of any of these three types of training is enough? Unfortunately, retailers usually only find that what they did is not enough when sales drop or an employee quits.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2017

    Is facial recognition a viable solution for reducing shoplifting?

    An individual who has agreed to have their picture taken to avoid prosecution has given up the right to privacy. However, the scope of forfeiture of that right is limited to the use of their likeness for that one purpose. I would be concerned if their pictures were used for other reasons.In my opinion that is very different from using the technology to monitor the shopping habits of individuals who did not give up that right. We all know that there are security cameras in stores. Our current expectation is that they are being used to prevent theft not to monitor our shopping behavior. Once a retailer begins to use facial recognition for marketing purpose without the consent of the shopper they have crossed the line.
  • Posted on: 05/08/2017

    Can Walmart dash past Amazon with its own product replenishment system?

    This IoT application crosses the line and becomes IoP (Invasion of Privacy).
  • Posted on: 05/05/2017

    Will retailers get cut out by consumers in the future economy?

    The internet has already changed the way people shop. It will continue to get easier to buy directly from a manufacturer. That does not mean traditional retailers will be going away. They have already developed websites to handle online shopping with direct shipping to the home and/or BOPIS. Retailers may have been slow to see the impact online shopping would have on their business but they are now fully aware and are working to address how to remain competitive.
  • Posted on: 05/04/2017

    How will passage of the overtime pay bill affect retailers and workers?

    Like many things, it sounds good in concept. As several before me have pointed out, the issue is what will happen in the real world. There will be companies where it will work to everyone’s benefit, but there will also be instances where employees will be taken advantage of. In the real world, scheduling conflicts are part of life at retail for both the employer and employee.
  • Posted on: 05/04/2017

    Should retailers and restaurants post calorie info no matter what the FDA decides?

    Much has been written about informing the consumer about the caloric count and how is will impact consumers’ choice of food. While is not popular to say, many people don’t care and they just want food that tastes good to them. That doesn’t mean the information should not be posted, but having it posted is unlikely to make a major shift in what people elect to buy. Those that care will have the information and those that don’t will ignore it.
  • Posted on: 05/03/2017

    Should one rough quarter have Publix’s management concerned?

    Concerned yes, panicked, no. Assuming the math is correct, Easter falling in a different quarter explains the decline.Publix, like any retailer, is concerned as competition enters its market. Food may not be a true zero-sum game, but there only so much demand and with more competitors someone will lose volume. The trick is to make it be the other guy.To-date Publix has done a good job of instilling its culture in its expanded territory. As many have learned, it takes a great deal of effort to do so as the number of units operated increases and the distance from the base grows. Can Publix instill its culture in new markets as it expands and/or keep it at the same level in its existing units going forward? Only time will tell.
  • Posted on: 05/02/2017

    Can UPS get retailers to share in delivery costs?

    The full article on Saturday stated "In 2015, UPS started imposing additional charges on shipments when retailers blew through their shipping estimates, driving up costs. But now, UPS is looking for protection on the downside too."

Contact Steve