DeCA Tests Curbside Pickup of Internet Orders

Fort Lee, Va. Defense Commissary Agency shoppers can now buy groceries online and pick them up curbside at the store with DeCA’s new CLICK2GO online ordering service.

In testing the new Internet-ordering and curbside pickup service at Fort Lee, DeCA seeks to provide what commissary customers want and keep pace with evolving shopping trends without driving up operating costs, according to Joseph H. Jeu, DeCA director and CEO.

“Throughout its history, the commissary benefit has adapted to meet its customers’ needs, and we must not ignore the increasing use of online and smart phone technologies – what’s called e-commerce and m-commerce – as ways to provide the commissary benefit of the 21st century,” Jeu said.

Authorized commissary shoppers access the CLICK2GO system via DeCA’s website, where they can select from among nearly 21,000 items – the store’s full assortment of center store items, and a refined assortment of the top-selling, random-weight items, such as fresh meat, deli and bakery items, and fresh seafood. As the customer shops online, the virtual shopping basket is updated to reflect the items and prices. When finished, shoppers check out and select an available pickup time. They then go to the commissary curbside location at the designated time, and pick up and pay for the products they ordered.

Once the order has been received at the commissary, a fulfillment worker will gather the items the customer has chosen in accordance to the scheduled pickup time. The items will be kept in a temperature-appropriate holding area and loaded into the customer’s vehicle upon arrival. The customer pays for the groceries at curbside – without having to leave the vehicle, and accepted forms of payment are credit card, debit card and DeCA gift cards.

Orders can be placed at any time, but pick up days are limited to weekdays during the store’s normal hours of operation.

Following the Fort Lee pilot, the system will be tested at two other stores later this year – the commissaries at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., and Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., to iron out any operational glitches before the service is offered on a wider basis.

“We’re looking at everything from customers’ expectations to our ability to deliver such a service efficiently and effectively,” said Jeu. “This is all part of our commitment to understand our customers and deliver a 21st century commissary benefit.”

With the test, DeCA will assess e-commerce and evaluate customer usage, cost and impact on overall store operations, and customer service, said Tracie Russ, director of DeCA’s business development directorate, which heads the test. DeCA will not charge a fee for this service during the first year but may charge a fee in the future.

“Determining all the nuances and costs of this way to provide the commissary benefit are major goals of our test,” Russ said. “During the test we’ll be learning and adapting as we go along – engaging our customers to help shape the military’s 21st century commissary benefit.”

DeCA operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5 percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones.

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