New commissary agency director aims to increase patronage, especially among younger service members
FORT LEE, Va. – Growing the commissary’s customer base, especially among a younger generation of eligible service members and their families, is a top priority for the Defense Commissary Agency’s new director and CEO.
That’s the message William F. Moore passed on to DeCA's senior staff Aug. 31 at agency headquarters.
This was Moore’s first DeCA event since taking the reins from Rear Adm. (retired) Robert J. Bianchi, who led DeCA from October 2017 to August 2020, first as interim director, and later as DOD special assistant for commissary operations.
“Our patron base, those who are utilizing the commissaries, has slowly been getting smaller over time,” Moore said. “We have got to find a way to reverse that trend.
“We have actually grown the number of eligible customers and now we have to figure out what gets them into the commissary and then retain them as loyal customers,” he added. “It’s kind of surprising that so many [young eligible patrons don’t shop the commissary,] and they don’t, I think, because they perceive it as inconvenient. So we have to think through what this generation deems important in terms of convenience and get them back into the commissary.”
As Moore settles in as DeCA’s new director, he said the agency will build on past successes such as its ongoing partnership with the military exchanges; the computer-ordering, curbside pickup program known as CLICK2GO; the Your Everyday Savings! program, which lowers commissary pricing on trending products; and Commissary Store Brands that offer quality private label products at significant savings. Commissaries will also identify initiatives that improve the overall benefit.
“We have a lot of customer-focused initiatives, and we want to continue getting those out to every commissary we can,” Moore said. “We always have to keep our eyes open on how we can deliver the benefit and do it in a more efficient way through better supply chain management – there are all kinds of innovative ways we can do that.
“We’ve come a long way in just the past two or three years in terms of partnership with the exchanges and we should probably leverage that,” he added. "If there’s something we can deliver more efficiently through a partnership we certainly should.”
Of course, for Moore, delivering the commissary benefit these days presents challenges that go beyond providing annual savings of more than 23 percent to military members, their families, retirees and now the disabled vets. “Obviously we want to maintain safety first, especially in a COVID environment,” he said. “The most important thing we do – really our purpose – is delivering the benefit as efficiently as we can.”
As the son of a combat veteran, and a lifelong Army civilian who has supported soldiers throughout his 37-year career, the commissary is personal for Moore.
“This is a benefit that I absolutely believe in – it definitely made a difference in my quality of life growing up,” he said, “and it’s my desire and my 100 percent goal to make sure we get that benefit out to every single eligible patron.”
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.