The farm supplies and general merchandise retailer expanded its relationship with delivery startup Roadie, which previously delivered from about 20% of Tractor Supply stores.

Tractor Supply Co. (No. 504 in the 2019 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000) has expanded its existing deal with crowdsourced delivery company Roadie Inc. to help it meet the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Over the next 12 months, Tractor Supply had plans to increase the number of stores offering Roadie delivery, says Rob Mills, chief technology officer, digital and strategy, at Tractor Supply. Given the escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic, customer demand for delivery services became more pronounced, causing Tractor Supply to move up the timetable dramatically, he says.

“It was a very smooth and seamless transition,” Mills says because Roadie was already serving about 400 Tractor Supply stores and the retailer had already integrated Roadie into its systems as an option consumers could choose at checkout. That helped accelerate the process of rolling out Roadie delivery at an additional 1,462 locations in less than three weeks. The service is now available at all of its stores. 

Roadie uses a network of more than 150,000 independent drivers that operate vehicles of all kinds. The company says it can offer same-day delivery to 89% of U.S. households. Mills says Roadie’s flexibility and large footprint made it a good fit. For large shipments, he says, Roadie drivers with SUVs or light trucks can use store-supplied trailers to deliver large, heavy items such as lawn tractors.  

Expanding its same-day delivery option is just one of the ways Tractor Supply is responding to the COVID-19 crisis. Among them, Tractor Supply has:

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  • Implemented contactless curbside delivery for items bought online and picked up in stores.
  • Expanded the number of items available for buy online same-day and next-day delivery.
  • Started filling more than 5,000 full-time and part-time positions across its stores and eight distribution centers.
  • Awarded a one-time special bonus of $1,000 for store managers and $500 for those in frontline leadership and support roles.
  • Extended paid sick leave by two weeks for all employees affected by COVID-19.  
  • Provided a $2-per-hour bonus to hourly store employees.

Unlike many retailers that closed stores in response to state and local stay-at-home orders, Tractor Supply stores are deemed to be essential businesses and have stayed open. A company statement says the retailer has benefitted from “stock-up activity” starting in early March, as shoppers loaded up on supplies in anticipation of shelter-in-place orders. During March, overall comparable store sales increased 12% above the prior year and sales in “key consumable categories” were up more than 20%. The increase in consumables was more than offset by declines in discretionary categories such as clothing, footwear, toys and gift items, the statement says. The company’s ecommerce business also experienced significant growth in March, the statement says but did not provide specifics. 

Tractor Supply—founded as a mail-order tractor parts business in 1938—offers a mix of products necessary to care for home, land, pets and animals. The retailer has recently been boosting its omnichannel capabilities. Recent changes include tweaking the pickup part of its buy online pick up in store services and giving associates mobile checkout devices. About 50% of Tractor Supply ecommerce orders are picked up in stores.

Roadie launched in 2014 and has raised a total of $62 million from investors across four funding rounds, according to Crunchbase data. Most recently, Roadie raised $37 million in February 2019. Investors included home improvement giant Home Depot Inc., Warren Stephens, CEO of financial services firm Stephens Inc., and TomorrowVentures, a venture capital firm led by Eric Schmidt, former executive chairman of Google and Alphabet Inc.

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