The new director for the Defense Commissary Agency, DeCA, is planning changes to the commissary to widen its use and service to military members, retirees, and their families. John Hall took over as the new director and chief executive officer for DeCA in June of 2023. Hall stated at that time, “As a career logistician, I appreciate the commissary benefit’s impact on the quality of life of our service members and their families. Commissaries help sustain our military communities by providing food security through significant savings, healthy food options, clean and safe stores, convenience and premier customer service.” Hall was previously the Army Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, managing a logistics budget of $10 billion annually.
Hall stated further that the goal was to increase sales at the commissary. These increased sales, in turn, allow for lower prices with the commissary model. The commissary currently receives about $1.2 billion in funding from the Department of Defense, and the 5% surcharge charged to customers is to cover the cost of construction, maintenance, and equipment in the stores. These maintenance costs go toward repairs to the commissary and food replacement after power outages due to hurricanes and typhoons; they also cover repairs to dated air-conditioning units. Hall is considering increasing the surcharge to balance out the need for more maintenance instead of asking Congress for more money.
The Click2Go website allows patrons to place a commissary grocery order for pick-up or delivery. But the website is cumbersome to use and not user-friendly. Especially at a time when many families are used to placing grocery or pick-up orders at other local stores through easier applications, the website may be a deterrent for those Commissary locations using Click2Go. Per DeCA, about 1% of their sales are through the online service, while the industry average is about 10%. DeCA must address the online system to make it user-friendly and increase its use.
Sharing Shopping Eligibility
In 2020, the shopping eligibility expanded to include disabled veterans, but there is still a lack of understanding in that population that they have the ability. Per a Military.com article, Marine Sgt Major Michael Saucedo said that 99% of disabled veterans at a Veterans of Foreign Wars conference were unaware of the benefit. Any service-connected disability counts, with any level percentage, and the commissary benefit extends for their lifetime.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is working with these eligible patrons to provide them a Veteran Health Identification Card, allowing base and commissary access to utilize these benefits.
The Commissary is expanding its hours, increasing savings, and improving the quality of its products. Hall states he is working on providing prepared meal options to eligible patrons to compete with the civilian stores.
Hall states, “This is all about the customer.” If a patron desires a specific item, Hall wants to encourage patrons to ask about getting the item at the commissary – chances are if one patron wants it, another may also be looking for it.
What kind of features or changes would you want at your Commissary?