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: 05/24/2019

    Do the benefits of using facial recognition in retail outweigh the risks?

    The use of facial recognition in retail stores is fraught with dangers. There are far too many things that can and will go wrong. This is another of the ideas that falls into the category of "just because you can doesn’t mean you should." I agree with Stephen's statement that if done, it should on the basis of opt in rather than forcing people to opt out.
  • Posted on: 05/20/2019

    Should Kohl’s buy At Home?

    What Kohl’s brings to At Home is the potential for increased brand awareness by leveraging its five to one store count. At Home offers Kohl’s that chance to provide a broader selection of low-cost home goods. The question is, will this be an opportunity for Kohl's to diversify and grow or will the increasing competition in the home goods market make the acquisition be an anchor that weights Kohl's down?
  • Posted on: 05/17/2019

    Can grocers digest their way to zero waste?

    Anaerobic digester technology is a great concept to help reduce a retailer’s food waste. However, what it is doing is addressing the issue on the back end. It should be combined with better supply chain management on the front end. As predictive sales technology continues to improve hopefully there will be less organic waste that needs to be addressed.
  • Posted on: 05/14/2019

    Is the gig economy sustainable?

    An old adage says when you are losing money on every sale, you can’t make it up on volume. Uber and Lyft ignored this, but the investors in the stock market won’t. Doesn’t mean the entire gig economy will fail, but does mean the stock market doesn’t support companies that are expected to lose money for years.
  • Posted on: 05/13/2019

    Why is Party City closing profitable stores?

    Party City’s network rationalization may not seem to make sense on a store-by-store basis but is a good strategic move. It is always a tough sell on Wall Street when closing stores, even if the rationale is solid and can lead to greater profitability. It is even harder when some of the stores are profitable and the short-term impact may be lowers sales and profits.
  • Posted on: 05/07/2019

    What will Walmart gain from its ‘returnship’ program?

    Walmart’s returnship program is a great way to encourage former employees to come back to work for them. Everyone is potentially a winner. Walmart gets back The Walmart has history on these potential employees and be selective in who it hires. The returning employees have worked there before and have an understanding of the work environment. They get training to ensure they are familiar with Walmart’s current technology. My expectation is they these employees will have a lower turnover rate than Walmart’s existing technology workforce.
  • Posted on: 05/03/2019

    Will Walmart’s ‘Great Workplace’ test work for its customers and associates?

    The cynic in me believes that CNBC and The Wall Street Journal headlines state the reason for Walmart’s store management structure change. This allows Walmart to cut its store management staff. It is interesting to note that this is being tested in its smaller stores. Time will tell if the store staff training and execution equals the hype about the improvements in customer service. One thing is for sure: the range of duties they are expected to perform increased.
  • Posted on: 05/02/2019

    Walgreens is training pharmacists to tackle mental health, opioid emergencies

    Great move! This moves Walgreens closer to the stance that CVS has taken with their health focus. As Ken pointed out if comes with potential liabilities but may also help Walgreens when the next state government accuses them of being part of the opioid problem.
  • Posted on: 05/01/2019

    Are smartphones making sales associates obsolete?

    This research result is due to the intersection of two factors. The first is the difficulty in finding a knowledgeable sales associate in the store. The second is their phone is always there and can be seen as neutral in the sales process. It is not trying to sell an item, earn a commission, etc. It is simply providing information on which a decision can be made. As more people rely on the phone, the retailer sees less a need for a trained staff, and they shift labor to handling the sales transaction. As this occurs the consumer learns to rely more on their phone and retailer shift more emphasis on their mobile apps.
  • Posted on: 04/30/2019

    Will shoppable ads help Walmart’s Vudu compete with Amazon and Netflix?

    Walmart's overall approach is no different than network TV in that it provides supported content, but with one important difference. While you are waiting for the program to resume, you can buy the product being advertised. Also reminds me of all the free apps that are ad supported. Personally, I would rather pay and not watch the ads but realize not everyone agrees with my thinking.
  • Posted on: 04/29/2019

    Why can’t Amazon convert Prime shoppers into Whole Foods shoppers?

    There are four marketing strategy concerns that a company should consider. They are:
    • Target customers;
    • Need states;
    • Consideration sets;
    • Points of differentiation.
    If there were a Venn diagram infographic of the Amazon and Whole Foods customers, it would show very little overlap for any of these four. The target customers are very different, as Bethany pointed out. Their need states are different and where they are not, Amazon is competing with itself for food sales. The customer's consideration sets are vastly different. There is Amazon and everyone else in online retailing. As the article indicates, Whole Foods has a large number of competitors, many with far, far more locations. This also applies to points of differentiation.
  • Posted on: 04/26/2019

    AI-powered, voice-capable chatbot helps shoppers make the right choice in stores

    The advantage of a well-trained salesperson is that they can guide the customer through all the options they have. In this case the item selection has already been narrowed down to allow the chatbot to function. I'm not a liquor drinker but on my last excursion to buy beer the salesman answered my question about where a product was and in guiding me to its location asked some additional questions. Based on his verbal and physical guidance I was able to buy some great beers that brewers ration to retailers. I would have never found or selected them had I used the type of chatbot process described. Bottom line, it will be a long time before a chatbot can come close to replacing a knowledgeable salesperson.
  • Posted on: 04/23/2019

    Did anyone win the Stop & Shop strike?

    Not covering new employees in the same way as existing employees is not that unusual in labor agreements.
  • Posted on: 04/15/2019

    Autonomous vehicles take test drives around distribution centers

    There has been a lot of news in the last few years about over the road autonomous vehicles including trucks. However, that change in the supply chain is much further off than using them in a warehouse situation. For the reasons pointed out in the article, using this technology in a environment designed for its use is something that will impact the supply chain fairly quickly. It will reduce long-term cost and increase operational efficiency. I am not sure that using autonomous vehicles in a specialized environment lends any credence to their use on the open road. Perhaps that day will come but it will not be in the next five years.
  • Posted on: 04/15/2019

    Is Bed Bath & Beyond smart to draw the line on coupons?

    Weaning its customers off of coupons will take Bed Bath & Beyond years to accomplish. They created an expectation that those coupons will arrive on a consistent basis and shoppers wait until they receive them to shop. Issuing fewer coupons may help but I expect the dedicated BB&B customer will simply wait until they come before returning to the store.

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