Astro Loyalty is an online technology service aimed at supporting specialty and independent pet retailers. The service enables retailers to offer and automate manufacturer coupons, rebates and rewards at the point of sale to increase revenue. Pet Age recently spoke with Astro Loyalty president Jimmy Haverstick to learn how the company helps independent pet retailers drive customer loyalty and store sales.
What was your motivation to create Astro Loyalty?
I love this industry. Right out of college, I started working for a veterinary supply distributor. After a few years, I was hungry to do something more. I saw an opportunity to aggregate wholesale distributor sales data in the veterinary channel that expanded to the pet specialty channel. Out of this, Focus Technology Group (FTG) was born. Our services enabled marketing program and incentive fulfillment services on behalf of veterinary and retail brands. Everything we did was directed to the retailer or clinic level, not to the pet owner. Astro was then created as a platform to extend these brand-sponsored marketing programs to target pet owners. When we discovered the chaotic situation involved in frequent buyer administration and the costs and burden on all parties, we knew we were on to something. When FTG was acquired in 2015, I divested Astro and key team members, and we’ve been going strong ever since. As Astro has matured and evolved, we remain committed to our mission to help neighborhood pet compete with big box and online.
How would you describe the growth of Astro Loyalty since it launched in 2017?
Timing is everything and that certainly holds true here, but I would also emphasize we have a great team, solid technology and a good plan. Throw in a bit of luck, and we are holding on tight because it’s been a wild ride so far. We currently serve over 4,000 locations in the U.S. and Canada, and we are growing daily. As with any business, we have made mistakes, but we certainly do not repeat them. At Astro, we are not afraid to try new things and are constantly innovating. Most importantly, we ask questions and listen to our retailers, vendors and distributors. Astro is positioned as the loyalty data warehouse for brands and digital clearing house for all promotions and programs in neighborhood pet, feed and farm.
How does Astro Loyalty help retailers and the pet industry?
Astro is not just a frequent buyer and coupon platform. It is a hub that connects and empowers a fragmented independent retail channel. Big-box and online retailers have centralized purchasing and merchandising. This is not the case with neighborhood, independent retailers. At Astro, our role is twofold. Operationally, we take costs out of the supply chain. We have saved distributors much time and money by automating credit processing. Retailers love automated, timely credits. Brands love the visibility of their programs. Strategically, we provide the tools and programs to beat big-box and online. It’s that simple. Exclusive and rich programs aligned with a brand’s marketing objectives also create significant customer loyalty and increase revenue for our retailers. In other words, we do our part to keep the supply chain healthy while at the same time making sure our retailers are as successful as they can be.
One of my favorite conversations with new Astro retailers, as they peruse the available programs, is their reaction to all the new programs. I often hear, “I didn’t know X vendor had a frequent buyer program.” They didn’t have a program until Astro. Now, with Astro, vendors can quickly and cost-effectively provide programs exclusive to Astro retailers. Astro not only automates existing programs, but we provide hundreds of programs that never existed before.
Vendors and distributors need the Indy pet retail supply chain to stay relevant in the pet industry. I believe Astro is part of the solution.
Can you give an example of an Astro Loyalty success story?
Well, there are many for sure, but if I had to choose one, it would be our adoption rewards program, Share The Love (STL). Share The Love began during the pandemic to reward consumers for adopting via 501c3 shelters and bring new customers to Astro retailers. A retailer can choose from hundreds of free pet foods, treats and supplies to build a gift basket to reward pet owners for their kind hearts. Both the brands and the retailers love it because they gain new customers. The pet owners are thrilled to get these high-quality products for their new fur kid. Share The Love has been very successful in creating new and loyal customers and it is something that I am very proud of. Please check out our new brand that will incorporate STL targeting new pet owners to shop locally at Astro neighbor pet stores.