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Big changes coming to the commissary?

The Defense Commissary Agency is planning various initiatives geared toward enhancing customer satisfaction and expanding offerings. Photo credit: U.S. Army photo

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Plans are underway to revitalize commissary shopping experiences, aiming to attract more eligible patrons to the benefits offered by military grocery stores.

John Hall, Director of the Defense Commissary Agency, during a discussion at the American Logistics Association expressed concern over the significant portion of potential customers opting out of shopping.

"Half of our customers are choosing not to shop, even though we saved (customers) 25.5% last year, and we're at 25% this year," Hall said according to Military Times.

Hall outlined various initiatives geared toward enhancing customer satisfaction and expanding offerings, including the introduction of prepared foods, an expansion of seafood selections, and the broadening of the military's grocery-delivery service to encompass all stateside commissaries, the Military Times reported.

Additionally, efforts are underway to allow service members to utilize their meal card benefits at the commissary, potentially transforming purchasing habits and increasing utilization of available benefits.

"When I visit commissaries, I see service members in line buying at the deli," Hall said according to Military Times. "They're using their own money, and choosing not to use that benefit that can get a free meal essentially, at the dining facility." Being able to use that meal card benefit "will be a huge, huge change."

Further initiatives include bulk delivery options for military units and the revival of on-site sales for eligible shoppers living distantly from stores. Outposts and kiosks at select Army installations are set to expand, offering convenient access to a range of food items.

The agency is also scrutinizing its supply chain to reduce costs and improve product availability, with a target of achieving a 98% in-stock rate, Military Times reported.

Financially, the agency aims to increase sales to $8 billion within five years, with a focus on maximizing savings for customers. The recent increase in sales, attributed to factors like inflation and increased foot traffic, underscores a positive trend following investments made through Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's Taking Care of Our People initiative.

Eligibility for commissary shopping extends to various military personnel and their families, veterans with certain qualifications, and designated caregivers, encompassing a wide range of beneficiaries.

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