Tractor Supply Company detailed its digital success after the rural lifestyle retailer reported an “exceptionally strong” start to the year.
The retailer’s e-commerce sales experienced triple-digit percentage growth for the fourth consecutive quarter. Its buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) service accounts for approximately 75% of Tractor Supply’s digital sales, while curbside pickup is about 75% of BOPIS.
“Our execution, both from the customer order all the way through to customer pickup, is just much more efficient than it was this time last year,” CEO Hal Lawton said on the company’s earnings call. “And that's really due to all the investments that we've made and just the outstanding execution by the team.”
These investments include Tractor Supply rolling out its first mobile app last year. The app now has over one million downloads and is driving digital sales. Additionally, Tractor supply started dedicating staff outside the store and adding new Theatro headsets last year.
Within moments after a digital order is placed, that task is acknowledged by an associate. Tractor Supply now has Theatro headsets in stores for every single team member, Lawton said, and over 90% of orders are being picked in less than an hour.
As soon as the order is completed, an associate checks it in with a mobile handheld device and then they take the order to the store’s BOPIS Lockers. At that point the customer gets a notification saying the order is ready. Tractor Supply doubled the capacity of its mobile handhelds in stores last year, Lawton said, and just rolled out the lockers in November 2020. The average store has three BOPIS lockers.
Customers using the app for BOPIS can note the type of vehicle they're driving, including model and color, as well as special pickup requirements they have, such as opening up the back of an SUV and placing the order in the vehicle. On their way to the store for pickup, On My Way functionality in the app gives associates a notification saying the customer is ready for the order to be picked up as soon as the shopper enters the parking lot.
“And then in their Theatro headset, it will actually tell them, Kurt Barton in a white Ford F-150 is ready for their order,” Lawton explained. “And they'll walk right out, and they will drop the order in the back of the SUV, as it was indicated. We're doing well over 90% of that in minutes now. And then they take the handheld device out there, complete the order because we've rolled out additional WiFi access points on the front, and the customer drives off.”
Lawton explained this scenario is now a big percentage of the retailer’s orders and the “vast majority of the technology, as well as the operational components, are all new” in the last year.