CSA Q&A: Tractor Supply CIO talks about success with BOPIS

For Tractor Supply Company, buy-online-pickup-in-store is proving a win-win, for both itself and its customers. 
With more than 1,600 stores in 49 states, Tractor Supply is the nation's largest operator of stores dedicated to a rural lifestyle. Online and offline, it offers a wide range of merchandise, from welders and generators to an-imal care products to men and women's workwear. Stores are typically located in towns outlying major metropolitan markets and in rural com-munities. 
Similar to consumers everywhere, Tractor Supply customers increasingly expect a seamless shopping experience, as well as the most convenient way to browse for and buy merchandise. The retailer is delivering on those demands and more with its BOPIS program. What's more, the pro-gram is providing Tractor Supply with a good upsell in its stores, increas-ing basket sizes and average order size.
 Rob Mills, the retailer’s CIO, shared his thoughts about the program — and results — with Chain Store Age.
How did BOPIS become a priority for Tractor Supply Company? 
Our customer base values high quality product, merchandise availability and in-store customer service when making a purchase. Besides offering a high level of expertise, we also want to give them a convenient, quick and easy shopping experience. BOPIS fits this criteria.
Our customers can be shop owners or individual customers, and they may not always live very close to a store. So before they drive to a store, it is important for them to know merchandise is in stock.
After discussing the opportunity with our customers, we launched a pilot in a small region among 70 stores in October. Our goal was to understand capabilities and processes in store and learn from our customer experi-ences and expectations. These results helped us fine-tune the program, and we continued rolling it out chain wide. As of May, all of our 1,620 stores now offer BOPIS. 
What makes your program unique? 
We are one of the few companies in our segment that offers a modern-ized, integrated BOPIS service. Leveraging our cloud-based e-commerce platform, we created a new digital interface for our website and mobile sites, and then redesigned these user experiences to be more responsive. 
Lastly, we integrated our inventory systems into the new platform as well as store-level. Now we can share available inventory and communicate with our customers throughout the ordering process. 
How does the service work?
As digital customers add merchandise to their online shopping cart, the product page reveals if the item is available in-store, if it has to be shipped to the store, or if it qualifies for BOPIS. If it is eligible for in-store pickup, shoppers select their preferred store, confirm that inventory is still available, identify who will pick up the order, and then checkout. 
From there, shoppers receive notifications to keep them abreast of the or-der. After receiving an email thanking them for placing an order, they will receive an order confirmation within two hours, and a final email con-firming the order is ready for pick-up. 
In-store signage directs shoppers to customer service, where an online or-der pickup team member confirms their identity, retrieves the order and even educates the shopper on how to use the product. Following the pick-up, we send another email thanking them for their order, and invite them to share their experience via a link to a survey or social media. 
What have early results revealed?
To date, between 50% and 60% of our online volume is being picked up in store. Some of that was driven by holiday promotions or seasonal needs, but BOPIS is still driving a big chunk of our e-commerce volume.
We also see the service increasing our basket sizes and average order val-ue. Shoppers will walk into store to pick up their order, then add another item. It is definitely a good upsell and cross-sell opportunity for us. 
BOPIS shoppers are also making purchases across all four walls and all key categories, and the item size varies from trailers and tractor mowers to small parts for repairs. Orders are well across the board.
What's next? 
Being a “test and learn” organization, we are constantly trying new capa-bilities. We also rely on customer feedback to drive results and evaluate services. We will continue to try different things, but our focus remains on driving more convenience for the customer. 
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