Tractor Supply creates a winning online experience

Nadee Bandaranayake
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Tractor Supply Company — which does not sell tractors — is well-known for product expertise and customer service, and carries a range of farming and gardening equipment, supplies for animals, hardware and apparel in over 1,600 stores. The specialty retailer caters to rural Americans passionate about living an “out here” lifestyle that includes activities like small-scale farming and raising animals.

SVP and CIO Rob Mills joined Retail Gets Real when he attended NRF 2018: Retail’s Big Show in New York City, and discussed how TSC extended its focus of expertise and customer service online. The company was named ForeSee’s No. 1 Retail Customer Experience on the web this year, beating out giants like Amazon and Nordstrom. Some topics in discussion include:

  • Primary focus on customer experience and building and sharing TSC’s knowledge base and expertise.
  • Four major trends/issues in technology that Mills monitors as CIO and why they are important to retail.
  • Technologies that most retailers are paying attention to and Mill’s views on how these will change future retail.

Notable quotes

On Tractor Supply Co.’s customer service: “We take a lot of pride, because we don’t look at ourselves as 1,700 stores. We look at ourselves as one store and 1,700 communities. If you walk into our store, the passion of our team members and the knowledge of living the lifestyle and understanding rural America is just amazing — the knowledge and the connection that they have with their community. So, we’re pretty passionate about it.”

Rob Mills (left) chats with host Bill Thorne (right) in the podcast booth at NRF 2018: Retail's Big Show.

Rob Mills (left) chats with host Bill Thorne (right) in the podcast booth at NRF 2018: Retail's Big Show.

On bringing expertise and community connection online: “We put a lot of focus around telling product stories … product information out there on the product web page, as well as our own content. We have partnerships with places like Farmers’ Almanac, where they will feed us information into our website. … We have a great Facebook following, and we also use video.”

On creating a unified shopping experience: “One of our core strategies is something we call ‘One Tractor,’ and it’s essentially where the customer can shop anywhere, anytime, anyhow they want — it could be online, in-store presence, mobile, etc. It could be making sure that we’re consistent with our messaging across the different platforms. [We try to] really drive a channel-agnostic kind of shopping experience with that customer and make it very seamless.”

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