Rob Mills, EVP, Chief Technology, Digital Commerce & Strategy Officer for rural lifestyle retailer Tractor Supply Company, is a visionary and tech expert whose experiences in different industries and roles have provided him with the capability to think more holistically about a business – placing an extreme focus on the customer. In his over 20 years of experience in information technology and digital commerce, he has learned that harnessing the passions of his team drives energy for them and translates into outstanding delivery and results. “Accomplishing all of this requires investing in your Team – instilling the importance of the culture and the vision for the organization. For me, this has best been accomplished through servant leadership – providing the Team with what they need to succeed,” says Rob. “Key values that are a must-have [for success] include teamwork and collaboration. All of this has resulted in a unique role – driving corporate strategy for our company – then translating that into a digital vision and technology enablers, digitizing our business.”
"Tractor Supply Company (NASDAQ: TSCO), the largest rural lifestyle retailer in the United States, has been passionate about serving its unique niche, as a one-stop shop for recreational farmers, ranchers and all those who enjoy living the rural lifestyle, for more than 80 years."
In 2017 Tractor Supply Company introduced a strategy called ONETractor. The goal was to provide a seamless customer experience across all shopping channels – regardless of coming into a store or shopping online. As a part of this strategy, they established a strong digital foundation that the company was able to build on – connecting all of the pieces. “Now, we can quickly scale and advance new capabilities when required, which has allowed us to adapt to new customer behaviors in the face of the current pandemic,” says Rob.
At Tractor Supply, they support the Out Here lifestyle. The company knows their customers have unique needs specific to their land, their home, pets and animals, and Tractor Supply’s goal is to meet those needs as the indispensable supplier of the products they need with the relationship and trusted knowledge they expect. “Our Team is the key to our success – we hire our customer to obtain robust knowledge to serve our customers and deliver legendary service. Technology and new capabilities become the connector of these relationships – providing convenience and ease of shopping,” explains Rob. “Our new mobile app is an example where we have woven the customer experience and the Team Member together – facilitating indirect communication that improves the overall experience. Always being connected to the customer through this app allows us to better understand their needs and behaviors.”
Through their Neighbor’s Club loyalty program, the company is able to see customers’ purchases and buying behaviors, allowing them to anticipate needs. “For example – if a customer purchases baby chicks in the spring, we know the lifecycle of those chicks. We can ensure we have the right products available as those chicks mature,” adds Rob. “Our customers’ needs also vary seasonally and regionally. For example, knowing when our customers need heating supplies in the North and South are critical to ensuring inventory is in the right place at the right time.” Through robust assortment planning and replenishment tools, leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence, Tractor Supply is able to anticipate these needs and ensure the products are there when customers need them. It’s also important that these products are placed in a way that ties into the shopping experience, as their stores provide a one-stop shop for customers from the clothing that supports the Out Here lifestyle, to pet and animal feed, truck accessories and hardware, to seasonal items like lawn and garden and heating.
For the days to come, Rob and his team of passionate IT professionals are positioning their Consumer Mobile App to be much more than a shopping channel – but rather a platform for interacting with customers. “Leveraging the information we gather through our Neighbor’s Club loyalty program, we can curate content, offers and features specific to their needs,” says Rob. “We can also facilitate interactions between Team Members and our customers. Likewise, our new website platform is positioned to tie all of the customer’s experiences together.” The new platform works to ensure consistency, resilience, speed, and the ability to quickly adapt new capabilities to meet evolving customer expectations and incorporates containerization and cloud technologies for scale. Speaking to Tractor Supply’s future in a retail environment that has been greatly disrupted by COVID-19, Rob says, “It’s these kind of interactions across all channels that will differentiate us and provide convenience for our customers as we evolve – and having a Team that is dedicated to legendary customer experiences is what makes it possible.”IE
EVP Chief Technology Digital Commerce & Strategy Officer Tractor Supply Company
Tractor Supply offers an extensive mix of products necessary to care for home, land, pets and animals with a focus on product localization, exclusive brands and legendary customer service that addresses the needs of the Out Here lifestyle. With more than 33,000 team members, the Company leverages its physical store assets with digital capabilities to offer customers the convenience of purchasing products they need anytime, anywhere and any way they choose at the everyday low prices they deserve. At March 28, 2020, the Company operated 1,863 Tractor Supply stores in 49 states and an e-commerce website