Improving the Tack Shop Customer Experience

Making sense of customer experience marketing

You all have visited a tack shop like this. Overflowing in every corner like Ollivander’s wand shop. Towers of saddles, rows of boots, jumbles of bridle parts, odd sizes, or one random piece. Dusty bottles that make you wonder if the contents have dried out. Dark, dusty corners, and bad lighting. Maybe they are fun to sort through on a rainy Saturday, but frankly, I don’t have the time anymore. But what makes enjoyable in person tack shopping experience these days?

Boxes of randomness are not so appealing.

Retail shopping is about the experience of shopping as much as finding what you came in for in the first place. It’s what keeps people talking and coming back because you made them feel good and they enjoyed themselves while they were in your shop. It’s about perception and building on that positive event.

Good lighting that doesn’t make your shop feel like CVS at 3 AM is going to make customers feel welcome and want to browse longer. If your building allows some natural lighting, you are ahead of the game. Have good lights next to your mirrors or changing areas. It’s hard to see a proper fit when the lighting is dim. If I can’t tell, it stays on the rack.

Have some shopping baskets at the door to hold small items while shopping to keep hands free and people browsing longer. Or keep all of the little things up by the register at the end of the trip.

Visual interest. Add some vintage items that are for display only to create some interest and warmth. Look for old polo equipment, cowboy boots, velvet helmets, buckles, framed prints; you get the idea here. Those giant co-op antique places are usually a good bet, and you can talk to the owner and give her what you are looking to find so that she can keep an eye out for you.

Displays don’t need to be pricey. Search Craig’s List for recyclable wood pallets or wire spools. Old wooden crates can showcase boots, buckles, gift items, or mane and tail potions. Old horseshoes and bits decorate in style. Keep an eye out for stores closing in your area and selling all of the racks or mannikins. Old wooden doors can be mounted to a wall and painted. Fold old bits over a bar and loop items through them. Apple baskets can hold brush selections and hoof picks.

Group items by color or intended audience. All pony wear, all upscale wear, all pink, all holiday, you get the idea here. Offer a preset outfit complete with bun bow, earrings, bracelets, belt, belt bling, socks, and hat. People don’t have time to think up solutions or know what is on trend this year, so give them options. If you have a mannikin to dress up, even better.

Find new reasons to entice people in to see you. Does your target audience wear makeup in the show pen? Invite a local makeup artist to bring their kit and host a wine and show makeover event with the season’s newest colors. Host a hairstylist to demo a proper under the hat bun at the same time. Have some fun giveaways during the session. Then capture that awesome event and post it on social media so others can see what they missed. Host a Q&A with a visiting clinician, bit expert, or feed expert to your area. Have them stop in for an hour or two to give a short talk and mix with the locals.

Make grab and go shopping easy. Think seasonal like the big guys. Mud, shedding, and abscess season is upon us. Have a corner to showcase supplies to go – vet wrap, Epsom salt or packing, duck tape, soaking buckets, shedding blades, tail tangle remover spray, combs and clipper blades. If you color coordinate, it’s eye-catching and practical. If you put it together as a kit, it’s grab and go for gals that need to get back to the barn. See what I did there?

On the flip side, too many options = no purchase. In the book, The Art of Choosing, by Sheena Iyengar, her test in an upscale grocery proved that the more options people have to select from (fancy jams in this case), the less they actually will buy. If people feel overwhelmed while trying to make a selection, they skip making a decision, so keep it to 3-4 options, especially for things in bottles. You don’t need to carry every brand out there, just the ones you know sell.

If you live in an area with a walking district, check out the pet boutique. Get some ideas and find out if they had someone help them and who. Pet shops tend to be fun and take more chances in creating their shopping experiences, and you can get some good ideas to try from those.

Display your customer’s horse photos on an entire select wall in a big mounted frame. Offer to post event notices in the area. The best marketing is relationship-based. Keep it tidy and take down old notices.

Avoid sticker shock at the register and mark everything clearly. I know it seems like common sense, but I still occasionally run into this in smaller shops. People need to know up front what things will cost, not at the last minute when it’s too embarrassing to change your mind. Items in cases should also have posted pricing.

Coffee anyone? Have a DIY bar available for parents who need a pick me up or tired stable gals who need a refill in their travel mug. Maybe toss a peppermint in the bag with every purchase for the next barn visit.

Last, but certainly not least, your staff and support team should be able to answer all fitting questions for the types of riding you carry. If you carry show gear, be sure you have someone on staff who knows the current trends and disciplines and can set a customer up appropriately for a winning year.

Amanda MacDonald

Amanda MacDonald

Founder of Full Gallop Communications

Amanda is a marketing veteran that works with businesses on improving brand communication, marketing strategy, and creating content marketing. When not in the office, Amanda can be found at the barn with her horse, walking her two dogs on Lake Ontario or baking something carbtastic in the oven.

Contact her at to inquire about how your marketing efforts can become more successful.

Set Up Your Starting Gate Meeting

The path towards growing your business begins today. Take the first step and schedule a free consultation.

(reserve your spot in 5 mins)