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: 01/22/2019

    Can grocers sell produce without plastic bags and boxes?

    The use of paper bags and other biodegradable containers is a great alternative assuming that they are placed in a recycling container. If not was are simply exchanging one form of waste for another albeit one that does not have all the potential longer-term harm associated with it. The bag-less approach or biodegradable containers will initially be a point of differentiation and then move from a needed-to-win to a needed-to-play approach to produce. As Ron noted the long-term solution will likely be reusable containers.
  • Posted on: 01/14/2019

    NRF: Is video analytics the solution to ending long checkout lines?

    Long lines do far more than just cause customers to leave rather than wait. Consistently having long wait times means people find another place to shop. There are many possible tools from a good front-end manager to using technology. Regardless of how a retailer cuts wait time it is noticed and appreciated by its customers.
  • Posted on: 01/11/2019

    Are department stores seeing the Ghost of Christmas Future in bleak holiday results?

    There are two intertwined issues. The first is that everyone assumed based on unemployment, etc. that this Christmas would be very robust. This led to forecasts of higher traffic and sales. The second is the reality of what happened. The combination of the two makes the shortfall several retailers experienced seem even worst that it was. It is a prediction of what will happen? The answer is yes and no. Yes, if retailers do not make changes to their current business model and formats. No if they do. Sales may shift from their brick-and-mortar stores to online, but they are still sales. The extent of the shift will depend a great deal on the customer experience with both.
  • Posted on: 01/10/2019

    Why are Millennials apparently addicted to Chinese knockoffs?

    The short answer is, if you can’t tell the difference and the cost is far less, why wouldn’t they? I agree with Zel that about things that are too good to be true, but even knowing it can’t be the real thing doesn’t mean that anyone, including or perhaps especially cost conscious/value driven Millennials won’t buy.
  • Posted on: 01/09/2019

    Should Dollar Tree sell Family Dollar?

    There are two questions Dollar General should answer. Can it fix the Family Dollar current state? The second is, does it make sense to convert the Family Dollar locations to its brand and make a return on its investment? With those answered, it then determine should it hold or fold. No matter which course it takes, it needs to ensure that its stockholders understand and believe in its decision.
  • Posted on: 01/08/2019

    The new boss is different than the old boss at Starbucks

    The transition from entrepreneurial visionary to professional management is a natural one in the growth of most companies. While both might be governed by stockholders’ expectations stockholders are likely to grant the founder more latitude than their successor. The change in focus at Starbucks is an expected one. He grew it and we now need you to manage it.
  • Posted on: 01/07/2019

    Retailers are shutting down their NYC flagships

    Closing a flagship store is a financial decision with tremendous emotional overtones for any retailer. The bottom line is the store must make money or at least not lose a lot. When it doesn’t and there does not appear to be a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel then it has to be closed. The emotional impact starts when the retailer comes to grip with the fact that the brand does not resonate enough to make the store sustainable. It continues because the store is seen as the standard-bearer for the brand. This resonates through the organization. People begin to wonder if they are the next Sears. Closing a flagship location is a very hard decision. You have to applaud management’s willingness to make the decision to do so.
  • Posted on: 01/04/2019

    Will PepsiCo’s robots replace the pizza delivery guy on college campuses?

    Will robot deliveries be popular on campuses? I expect there will be a great deal of hype initially surrounding the concept then reality will set in. That reality will include all the issues mentioned by other who have already commented. Other issues that were not mentioned are weather- and campus size-related. The technology would seem more suited to areas that don’t get snow and where the campuses are reasonably compact. If the issues are worked out, then I would expect companies such as Aramark that run the c-stores on campus to handle the robot deliveries. They are already there and have an infrastructure to source and stock the products, plus they also operate the dining services.
  • Posted on: 01/02/2019

    Whole Foods to expand nationwide to drive Prime Now growth

    Whole Foods may not be the “Whole Paycheck” of the past but it is still not a mainstream grocery store. As it expands outward it will find stiff competition from established grocery chains that have survived the ongoing grocery wars making them increasingly tough competition. These chains are rapidly adding their own BOPIS and delivery options with a much larger product base. Grocery may not be a zero sum game but I expect Amazon will find it harder and harder for Whole Foods to take business away from established grocery chains as it expands. These type of pronouncements by Amazon make for great public relations but I expect they will find the reality more difficult than anticipated.
  • Posted on: 12/27/2018

    RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: The Finals

    All deserved to be in the finals, but my vote(s) are for Petco and Dick’s for message they bring. Petco for its message of a little boy willing to sacrifice what he wanted to create a gift for something that was needed. Dick’s for its message for the story it told about the many ways the gift could be used and by different generations. Forced to pick one, I would go with Petco.
  • Posted on: 12/21/2018

    Should the Marlboro Man be vaping?

    From a business point of view the investment makes sense. Altria had its own e-cigarette brands as did/do all the cigarettes companies. There were also other e-cigarette companies (far too many to count) vying for the vaping market. What Juul did was reposition the competition in the consumer’s mindset. Instead of looking like a cigarette it resembled a USB storage device. It had a cool visual appeal that the other did not. It quickly became the dominant vaping device with a reported 70 percent of the vaping market. There has been and will be a lot of discussion of the harm reduction qualities of vaping versus smoking. Both deliver nicotine to the user. Smoking involves inhaling the smoke from burning tobacco. Vaping does not. I'm not a doctor but information I have read indicates that vaping does not involve the harm that inhaling smoke does. Are either good for you? No, but is one less harmful than the other? So far it appears that way.
  • Posted on: 12/20/2018

    Why are holiday gift returns spiking before Christmas this year?

    There is certainly a correlation if not causation between the increase in online shopping for gifts and otherwise in late November and early December and the increase in December returns. I also agree with Nikki that as more people shop online, there will be more people who find what they thought they were getting, and the reality of the item delivered differ and generally not for the better. This is a trend that is likely to continue for several years.
  • Posted on: 12/19/2018

    Will 7-Eleven’s cashier-less store take hold?

    Dick you are correct. Operating a c-store is far more complex than most people realize. In the U.S. they are becoming far more restauranty which adds even more complexity to the operation. Then there are the age restricted items such as e-cigs, cigarettes, alcoholic beverages and lottery tickets that require a cashier to verify the purchaser's age. Let’s not forget the forecourt where by law a cashier has to have a clear line of sight to the fuel dispensers.
  • Posted on: 12/17/2018

    Are retailers getting over their SKU management hurdles?

    SKU rationalization used to be a simple numbers game. If an item didn’t meet the hurdle rate for sales (units and/or dollars) or gross margin it was cut. Today it still is a numbers game but there are far more data points to be considered. As the article points out, one is the role of the category and of the items being evaluated. An item may be new or you may have to carry it because your contract with the supplier requires you carry X number of their SKUs and it may be the best of the worst. Another could be the item’s impact on market baskets. The item my not be a great seller or carry a larger gross margin but it may be that those who buy that specific item also have large or even very large market baskets. They may be coming to your location because you are the only retailer that carries that slow-moving item. Cut too deep and sales decline as many retailers including Walmart have found out. Once the customers find you no longer carry their favorite item they go elsewhere. Bringing the item back does not quickly translate to winning that customer back.
  • Posted on: 12/14/2018

    Does Starbucks have a big delivery opportunity?

    Customer may want Starbucks to deliver their coffee, but unless they have found a way to keep it hot the customer will not be happy with what they receive. No cup on the market today will keep coffee hot for 30 minutes. To keep coffee drinkably hot you would need to have it in a thermos type of container such as a Contigo or other brand. I have not seen, nor am I ever likely to see, the container referenced in the article but having been in the c-store industry as a retailer and now as a consultant I can tell you people are very particular about the hand and mouth feel of their coffee cups. I see the announcement as a way to for Starbucks to say “hey we deliver too,” but I don’t see it having any significant impact on their sales.

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