Tech Transformation Podcast: Tractor Supply’s Rob Mills On the Future of Data-Driven Loyalty
Here are a few things you need to know about Tractor Supply Company: For one, they pride themselves on being the largest rural lifestyle retailer in the United States, with over 2,000 stores and 50,000 employees. What’s more, they have over 26 million members in their loyalty club.
In this episode of Tech Transformation, we talk with Rob Mills, Tractor Supply EVP, chief technology, digital commerce, and strategy officer, about how they’re using things like wayfinding, mobile apps, and artificial intelligence to improve the consumer experience.
Listen to learn:
- Why mobile apps have been a key tool in their success and how they’re evolving the technology
- How Tractor’s teams determine the features that are most valuable to customers
- How apps help drive loyalty for both their customers and employees
- Inside their test-and-learn culture and team engagement
- How and why Tractor is digitizing its store layout – and the benefits
- The opportunities and obstacles of having inventory quantity visible at the store level
- The future for personalization at Tractor Supply
- What Rob wishes Tractor manufacturing partners knew when it came to being a good trading partner
- What’s next for Tractor Supply
(3:27) On the expansion of their app: “Over time, we've expanded the app to be really focusing on that digital connection between the physical store experience and online. And one great example of this is really around our curbside pickup, where we have the ability to geo-locate the customer [and] notify the team members when the customers are on their way, which ultimately reduces the amount of time the customer waits for their product. It also makes the team member more efficient, productive, because they have advance notice that the customer is on their way to pick up their order. We've seen a huge impact – a really significant impact on our customer satisfaction scores with this capability that we implemented, as well as just overall and increasing the engagement of our Neighbor’s Club loyalty program, which currently right today is over 26 million members.”
(4:35) On leveraging customer data: “We listen to our customers and our team members, specifically through the mobile app, through ratings reviews, customer feedback, focus groups, and leveraging our Neighbor’s Club customer database and the customers themselves, we're able to understand where their pain points in the shopping experience, but also how do we leverage some of the capabilities that we have around A/B testing to make sure that we didn't just understand and listen to their pain point, but did we interpret it right? So we'll create rapid kind of prototypes, get that in front of the customer, get the feedback appropriately, and then move forward with a wide range of deployments.”
(11:29) On digitizing their store layout: ”It's about allowing us to use the information in new and kind of innovative ways. A great example is we're currently deploying wayfinding within our stores. You see this in a lot of retailers, but how this has really been brought to life with Tractor is not just, one, our customers being able to locate product quickly in our store when they're looking for them, but also thinking about how we could use this to improve space productivity, better understand the movements of goods within the store, and for our new store team members, how are we using this data and the wayfinding capability to be able to accelerate the learning of the team members of where products are located in the store?
(12:14) On leveraging AI: “This has been around in the industry for several years, but it's growing much more rapidly, and how we're using this data to understand the browse experience – so how the customer is browsing in the store, online, dwell time, and using this data to really target areas of the store and online to how do we ensure that we're offering a the best experience possible.”
(21:50) On what suppliers should know about working with Tractor Supply Company: “The first thing is RFID is coming. It's finally here. It’s been here for a long time, but the price points have been challenging. And over time, it's going to be a requirement to track and solve inventory accuracy and issues that I mentioned earlier. So it's going to become a bigger part of our business, and tagging products early in the supply chain would be the most cost-effective way to allow this to happen for us as a retailer or many other retailers.
“Second, how do we leverage content? Tractor is a lifestyle retailer. It’s about Neighbor’s Club. It’s about that community that we offer, and our customers depend on content to help make their product decisions. So we want to continue leveraging our partnerships with our vendors, and our other partners, to provide the most rich content experience within stores or across our digital or mobile platforms.
“And then, lastly, it's about how do we find new ways to innovate together throughout the supply chain, providing products that are new, relevant, and meet the qualities of our customers expect? And even on the technologies side: How do we expand to that whole lifecycle of the product – and so from the beginning of the product being delivered to the store, to when it arrives on the customer's property? How can we leverage technology to really drive some innovation with our partners there?”
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