Future of the benefit: Commissaries set vision, refocus mission to be military’s ‘grocer of choice’ for 2021 and beyond
By Keith Desbois, DeCA public affairs specialist
January 11, 2021
FORT LEE, Va. – Defense Commissary Agency leadership came together Dec. 2-3, to create a new vision for the agency and refine the mission and direction for 2021 and beyond. Looking forward to the future and using lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, the new vision will embrace ways to better serve the military community in line with Department of Defense direction.
DeCA has identified the need to improve its long-term revenue trend and, by implementing the new vision, make the strategic changes required to sustain the slight increase in sales seen in 2020, primarily attributed to the pandemic-buying in March and April.
“2020 was a challenging year, and the pandemic reinforced the commissaries’ critical mission in delivering to our customers the essential items they wanted and needed,” said Bill Moore, DeCA director and CEO. “Moving forward, and using what we have learned, we will work with our industry partners to ensure we have a steady distribution of product and the personnel available to get these items on the shelves, meeting the needs of our deserving patrons in more convenient ways.”
The commissaries’ updated mission statement of “deliver a vital benefit of the military pay system that provides grocery items at a significant savings in order to enhance quality of life and readiness” focuses on the agency delivering congressionally mandated annual patron savings of 23.7 percent or more. DeCA leaders discussed several potential initiatives to ensure this savings goal is met.
“Our mission statement and vision were outdated compared to where the industry is going and where our agency needs to go, so we got together as leaders and developed a better focus that takes us into 2021 and beyond, and also leverages advancements in delivering the benefit,” Moore said.
DeCA’s new vision, “to be the grocery provider of choice for eligible patrons – delivering a vital benefit exclusively for the military community and their families,” reaffirms the agency’s commitment to superior customer service and providing the items patrons want and need at the best price, he added.
To achieve this vision, the agency established priority focus areas for improving the way it delivers the benefit. Some of those areas include the following:
- Increasing sales, as DeCA owes it to its customers to deliver an efficient and effective commissary shopping experience
- Expanding patronage by educating and conducting outreach events to get more of the newest eligible patrons – first term troops and younger service members along with disabled veterans – into the stores
- Valuing customer feedback by responding to comments provided on the annual Commissary Customer Service Survey and ForeSee customer feedback tool to determine what attracts and maintains new customers
- Adding e-commerce options such as expanding CLICK2GO curbside service to more locations and accepting online payments are just a couple of ways DeCA is looking to make shopping more convenient
- Improving the supply chain by increasing DeCA’s order fill rates and bettering the agency’s relationship with its suppliers and distributors to ensure commissary customers have what they want, when they want it
Also, as part of this refocusing process, DeCA refined its values, emphasizing a greater focus on trust and treating all with dignity and respect.
“Overall, our overriding goal for 2021 and beyond is to ensure every eligible patron has the opportunity to enjoy the benefit,” Moore said. “This goal will be the basis of our corporate push to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our commissary operations. We will lean forward to achieve our future goals, while ensuring an agency culture, focused on our deserving patrons.”
About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Commissaries provide a military benefit, saving authorized patrons thousands of dollars annually on their purchases compared to similar products at commercial retailers. The discounted prices include a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.