The Power of Possible: Celebrating 10 Years with AFS Rewards
Today we are celebrating AFS Rewards’ 10-year anniversary. It is incredible to think this program has been around for ten years. Let’s look back at the program’s 10-year history, where we are going with the program, and the power of innovation here at AFS.
AFS Rewards program started as a small idea – a discussion among 2-3 leaders, including David Rice, about what the future looked like and how a rewards program could enable our stores to use shopper data in meaningful ways and communicate with shoppers in ways our company never had before. For some, building a rewards program seemed counter to who we were as a company – we had never required shoppers to share their info with us; why would we change that stance? For others, building a rewards program became a key that unlocked vast new opportunities for our retailers and AFS, as a whole. The idea and debate led to AFS seeking a partner to build a prototype program at our corporate stores.
That small idea has had many positive impacts across the company:
- Initially, a small, two-person team led by Heather Hall led the way in building our first programs for ARO and a select group of MRO retailers, including Broulim’s and Lee’s.
- As the program grew and became more successful, we grew the team and opportunities for more retailers to participate in the program.
- Today, our Rewards program is led by Jessica Cronin and is supported by four additional team members. All four of these team members came out of retail, opening up opportunities for them to grow their careers and skill sets with AFS.
- We originally built the Rewards program using a software provider named Accelitec. About two years ago, we moved the rewards program to another partner, BRdata in order to give AFS and our retailers more control over software development and to ensure we had a stable solution for the foreseeable future.
- Our teams at retail and here at AFS have built our Rewards program into a significant offering, touting over a million shopper members across the 8 states we serve.
- We also launched Team Perks as well and this program has become incredibly successful with our teams, especially now with ARO upping the Team Perks savings to 10% off every day.
The small conversation about building a rewards program has blossomed into a major program at AFS that is also key to our future success. Innovation at AFS happens in so many amazing ways. This story is a great example of how a small idea can turn into something incredibly powerful.
As we look to the future, our team, retailers, and 3rd party software developers are focused on taking our rewards program to a whole new level. Jessica, AFS’ Rewards Leader, said, “I cannot tell you how excited I am for 2022. This year is going to be amazing! We are about to start work on completing some of our 3rd party integrations that will make using our rewards program far easier for our shoppers to use whether shopping in-store or online. We are also looking into personalization which will unlock our ability to offer shoppers digital coupons, deals and other pricing that is specific to who shoppers are and how they shop our stores.”
The projects that Jessica and her team are working on are a great example of OneAFS. Jessica is working with ARO, a select group of MRO retailers, AFS IT, AFS Category Management and Procurement teams, and several key technology partners to take AFS’ program to a whole new level. Her and her team’s work will also align with work that Mindy Rich, another key leader at AFS is starting. These teams are building the future of AFS, something that is quite unique to AFS.
“I am excited about both the past and future of the AFS Rewards program,” said Jason Sokol, vice president of marketing. “Looking back, this effort has led to so many learnings and growth across all of our teams. We built something from scratch and a program that none of our sister wholesalers have in place. As I look at what the team is working on now with personalization, I cannot be more excited for what is going to happen in 2022.”