Earlier this month, Tractor Supply Company announced that it had partnered with IBM to revamp and migrate its website to a new cloud-based platform. The rural lifestyle retailer wanted a website that offered visitors optimal viewing across all devices, better integration with the brand's social pages, and a simplified checkout process. In short, Tractor Supply Co. wanted to give customers an easier way to connect, browse and purchase products online.
In this exclusive interview with Total Retail, Rob Mills, senior vice president and chief information officer at Tractor Supply Co., discusses why the company needed a website redesign, why a cloud-based platform made sense, and how the redesigned site has been integrated with Tractor Supply Company's brick-and-mortar stores.
Total Retail: Why did Tractor Supply decide it was time for a website replatforming?
Rob Mills: We had two primary objectives. First, we're always looking at ways to deepen our relationships with our customers through user interaction, the usability of the website, expansion of products, capabilities, etc. The first objective was to redesign the website navigation and simplify the experience for the customer. This goes from product selection – adding to cart – all the way to checkout.
The second objective was we wanted to improve our agility, speed and scalability of the website, which is one of the reasons we partnered with IBM. Essentially we wanted to create a platform that was able to support the future capabilities that would expand the core TractorSupply.com and mobile businesses.
TR: Why did Tractor Supply Co. choose IBM's cloud platform?
RM: One of the primary reasons we chose IBM is our current e-commerce platform as well as our order management platform are IBM products – they're part of the Smarter Commerce solution. So the integration for the infrastructure as a service was really seamless, but also a lot of flexibility in regards to speed to market. In addition, it gives us the ability to scale up during peak and seasonal times as well as scale down during nonpeak times.
The second reason was to allow the end-to-end view from the customer transaction. We now have the ability to track not just from the web into the store, but from the store back to the web. From a customer perspective, I can look at transactions across all channels.
TR: How has Tractor Supply's newly redesigned website given shoppers a better experience?
RM: Part of our objective [for the site redesign] was to improve the navigation and the overall ease of the checkout experience. Part of that is we wanted to optimize across all different devices – smartphone, tablet and desktop. As part of the redesign, we've introduced responsive design capability, which will drive more of a consistent experience.
In addition to that experience, we've also added new capabilities to our website on analytics to drive more personalization around content – the products that you're actually viewing are based on previous purchases or how you're navigating the site; expanded assortment; more product information; and integration with our store locator information – e.g., local store events and product availability within that local store.
TR: How is Tractor Supply Co. integrating its website with its brick-and-mortar stores?
RM: We've moved to responsive design, and part of that strategy was to really offer a seamless and consistent customer experience across all different devices. So a customer in a Tractor Supply store can be on their mobile device looking at product information, watching how-to videos, pricing information, and even neighboring store inventory availability. We wanted to give these customers a consistent experience on how they're navigating and finding product information.
TR: What are the metrics that Tractor Supply is expecting to see improvement in now that it's relaunched its site on a new platform?
RM: It's a little early – we're about 30 days into our launch, and so far it's been a very successful launch – we're still identifying and trending with our metrics. Some of the core metrics that we're looking at are the conversion rate, how customers are engaging with us on our website, how long they're spending on product pages, the information that they're looking at, increasing our basket size, and influencing more traffic into our stores. A big focus has been enhancing our store locator capability.