PROFILE

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.

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b2b Solutions, LLC Web Site

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  • Posted on: 04/25/2017

    Would Albertsons and Whole Foods make a good match?

    While it seems that Albertsons and Whole Foods are in the same business, e.g. the grocery business, their customers don’t see them that way. Whole Foods' position as the organic foods category killer has eroded with the availability of organics in every major supermarket chain, but their customers still see them as different. To use a non-supermarket comparison, you can get a cup of coffee at McDonald's or Starbucks but their customers don’t see them as interchangeable.Part of Whole Foods' positioning is that it is Whole Foods. A place where you go to feel better about your food purchases than a typical supermarket. Being owned by Albertsons will change its cachet with its current customers. It may be a win for Albertsons and its ownership but not for the Whole Foods organization and customers.
  • Posted on: 04/21/2017

    How will Walmart’s price cutting affect Kroger and other rivals?

    We all understand the math. Reducing prices without either a reduced cost of goods and/or reduced operating cost means reduced profitability. The food industry has never been long on net margins and a prolonged price battle means some locations and companies will not survive.Long gone are the days when physical distance between competitors helps insulate them from the pricing actions of others. Today people are well aware of the price they are being offered by different retailers.Kroger’s personalized pricing tailored to the individual may help them retain that customer but does not work to induce trial by new customers. It appears to be more of a way of keeping the customers that they have than a way of securing new ones.
  • Posted on: 04/20/2017

    Is personalized packaging going mainstream?

    The personalized Coke bottles works for Coke. The timing is great as the summer season kicks off. Less fun for the retailer who has customers digging through the display looking for their name. The Coke bottle on John desk is a great example of the lasting quality of this promotion. People will ask about it or at a minimum notice it and may wonder where’s mine.Something like the tape on an Amazon box the gets torn off is an example where personalization lack any longer term and maybe even short term value. Think about having you name listed on the tape for a product left on your doorstep or in the entry way to your apartment.Will they work, maybe buts there are lots of qualifiers. Will companies try them? You bet.
  • Posted on: 04/19/2017

    Will Walmart reap dividends from training academies?

    The investment in the training academies and increased pay are paying off for Walmart in customer service and reduced turnover. Do these things set Walmart apart from other retailers? That would depend on who Walmart is being compared to.Other retailers have just as well-trained or compensated employees and have not had to make the investment in similar training facilities. However, no other retailer employs as many people making it harder for Walmart to ensure the level of customer service it wants is being met.
  • Posted on: 04/17/2017

    Are outlet malls an outlier?

    The longer-term question for the branded locations in outlet malls is, does the product they are selling truly represent the brand? Based on all the information I have seen, in many cases it does not. What is occurring is that the brand is knocking off its own product.While that may be good for short-term sales and profits, the longer-term impact is a lessening of the brand's value. Once this occurs then the appeal of the outlet mall is diminished and its fate may be the same as the regular malls.
  • Posted on: 04/14/2017

    What can marketers and tech firms learn from BK’s co-opting of Google Home?

    I agree with Max. It's a good buzz creator for Burger King but not something that customers will want to happen all the time. The first time might have been amusing but after that it would rapidly become annoying. As the negative edits on Wikipedia showed, there could also be an additional downside for the retailer.
  • Posted on: 04/12/2017

    Will an in-store pickup discount give Walmart an edge over Amazon?

    One of the parameters that will definitely impact the customer’s decision is the ease of the store pickup process. This includes getting to and from the store, the ease of parking, the weather, the actual in-store pickup process, etc. If it is a hassle, customers will quickly find that the three to five percent savings isn’t worth it. Bottom line, the three to five percent savings is not likely to have a large impact on shifting customers from using Amazon to Walmart.
  • Posted on: 04/10/2017

    Will online sampling engage customers and drive trial at Sam’s Club?

    The advantage of in-store sampling is the ability to immediately influence the purchase decision. Tried it, liked it, bought it.Sam’s online sampling provides larger sample sizes and exposes the sample to all the people in the household. It gets into the home and provides a longer time frame for the sample to be tried. Potentially by more than just the shopper.
  • Posted on: 04/10/2017

    Should the same-store sales metric be retired?

    The reporting metrics based on brick-and-mortar locations have been used for many years by companies and Wall Street to judge a retailer’s performance and benchmark it against others.Are there new measures that might be more applicable? Yes, but I would urge caution when considering or making the transition. Doing it too quickly before the new metrics are clearly defined and understood could lead to confusion and likely a lower evaluation of the company. The one metric that will remain will be corporate profitability.
  • Posted on: 04/07/2017

    Should stores charge customers extra to use disposable cups?

    The apprehension over the use of plastic bags came after years of negative publicity regarding their impact on the environment. Once public awareness was raised above a certain threshold we saw the early bans on single-use plastic bags.The good news is that there were readily apparent alternatives that did not require extra effort on the part off the consumer. The retailer could give them a reusable bag or sell it to them.The concern over disposable cups has not yet reached anywhere near that same level. One of the significant differences is that moving to reusable cups will require effort on the part of both the consumer and the retailer. Small example: Consumers will have to be willing to have that recyclable cup (empty or not) in their car where before they simply found a trash can (hopefully) and got rid of it.Retailers will have to consider providing a place for customers to wash out their cups (something we did in the early 1990s for reusable coffee cups). The only market where I see wash stations today is in Utah where consumers use reusable cups for many of their fountain drink purchases.
  • Posted on: 04/06/2017

    Can Amazon Cash open e-commerce up to millions of underbanked consumers?

    The un or underbanked have had a number of options for several years to be able to make purchases online. More importantly, those methods did not limit them to one online retailer. Will this add incremental sales to Amazon? Yes. Will this be a huge win for Amazon? No.
  • Posted on: 04/05/2017

    BrainTrust throwdown: Is it inevitable that tech companies will dominate retail?

    Retail therapy does not happen when buying online. To have it occur you have to get out of the house, go to a store and touch and feel the merchandise. The issue for brick-and-mortar retailers is if they can continue to provide an environment where people want to go. This involves not only the physical place, but having the right merchandise whether it is clothing or major appliances.
  • Posted on: 04/04/2017

    Why haven’t customer surveys gone mobile?

    Customers are surveyed to death. What was once a way to let retailers and others know you thoughts have become ubiquitous. I have actually been asked to complete a survey about their survey! Enough is enough. It's like a retailer who plasters their windows with signs. There are so many people don't read them.
  • Posted on: 04/03/2017

    Will mobile order and pay-only stores improve Starbucks’ operational performance?

    Perhaps the best location for these sites would be next door to some of their current ones. Instead of improving the customer experience the mobile ordering app has made it worse.One of the issues with a drive-thru only location is queuing. What do you do with the customer who has shown up too early? Where do they park? How do you get their order to them? The same is true for the customer who is a few minutes late. Yes their order is ready but now has been sitting there for ten minutes cooling off or warming up.A good idea perhaps, but the road between the concept and a successful implementation is going to be bumpy.
  • Posted on: 03/31/2017

    Is mobile POS largely about line-busting?

    I agree with Ricardo that the impact and usefulness of mPOS depends very much on what the retailer is selling. Some retail segments may find mPOS has a great deal of applicability to act ask a pay point and others not so much. In some cases, its value is in the information it can provide the store associate regarding their products. In other cases, its use may be situational.As others have stated at some point the customer may have to have their purchase placed in a container (bag, box, etc.) to take it home. If mPOS is being used as a pay point then retailers will have to determine how they want to handle this final step.

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