Growing the commissary’s customer base – especially the younger generation of eligible service members and their families – is a top priority for DeCA’s new director and CEO, William F. Moore.
He shared that intent with his senior staff Aug. 31 at the headquarters facility on Fort Lee. It was Moore’s first executive action since taking the reins from retired Rear Adm. Robert J. Bianchi, who led the agency from October 2017 to August, 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 observed. “We have got to find a way to reverse that trend.
“The number of eligible patrons has actually grown, 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 in our facilities), 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. He also shares close connections with Fort Lee, having served several years ago as the deputy to the CASCOM commanding general.
“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 100-percent goal to make sure we get that benefit out to every single eligible patron.”