If the commissary agency’s doorstep delivery pilot program continues with the success it’s had so far, “we’re going to go globally as fast as the law and contracting rules allow,” said the director of the agency.
“We used to have a slogan in [the Defense Commissary Agency] that it’s ‘worth the trip.’ Well, sometimes, it’s not,” said Bill Moore, director of the commissary agency, in comments provided to Military Times. “That’s been a complaint from our customers. If we can’t get the patron to the store, then we’ve got to get the benefit to the patron. That’s what Click2Go delivery is really about at these eight locations” where the test is being conducted.
Since the agency began home deliveries at eight stores in June, they’ve had an average increase of 43% in their Click2Go sales at those stores. The home delivery program is an expansion of the Click2Go program, where customers at stores worldwide order online and pick up their groceries curbside at their commissary.
But this test takes the groceries a step farther — to the customer’s front door.
“So far, it’s working extremely well at [Fort] Belvoir. We’re knocking it out of the park there,” Moore said.
The pilot continues through Aug. 30 at eight locations: Scott Air Force Base, Illinois; Fort Bragg South, North Carolina; MacDill Air Force Base, Florida; Belvoir and Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and Naval Station San Diego in California.
Customers who live within a 20-mile radius of one of those commissaries can order groceries to be delivered.
After the pilot ends, officials will assess and make decisions about moving forward, said DeCA spokesman Kevin Robinson. He said it’s premature to discuss any lessons learned that could affect the solicitation process going forward.
The delivery fee in most cases is less than $4. That’s in addition to the cost of groceries, the commissary 5% surcharge, and any tips customers provide for the delivery driver.
The average dollar amount for a typical delivery order is $116, Robinson said. Customers can use online and mobile options to browse items, submit orders, schedule delivery and pay for their groceries from their computer, phone, tablet or mobile device.
The 43% increase in sales includes the cost of the groceries and the surcharge, but not fees or tips, Robinson said.
The majority of the deliveries are going to off-base locations, Robinson said. Foot traffic in those commissaries hasn’t changed; the delivery test is bringing new Click2Go customers and previous Click2Go customers who are choosing delivery instead of curbside pickup.
Numbers aren’t available yet on deliveries to barracks, Robinson said. But officials said they “turned up the volume on convenience after hosting focus groups with new young, single enlisted service members who value convenience as much as their savings, and they want low-cost, healthy options.”
Home delivery is also a viable option for families, and for disabled veterans who may find it more difficult to visit their store.
Those eligible for doorstep delivery, within a 20-mile radius of the eight commissaries include: active duty, Guard and reserve members; military retirees; Medal of Honor and Purple Heart recipients; former prisoners of war; 100 percent disabled veterans and those with a VA-documented service-connected disability rating; authorized family members; and VA-approved and designated primary family caregivers of eligible veterans.
We tested the delivery
Military Times conducted our own test to see how the home delivery works from Fort Belvoir, Virginia, to a location within 20 miles in Virginia, and found it works as advertised.
If you are an authorized customer, you log on to shop.commissaries.com, and hit the Click2Go button. After authentication, you select your store and choose from that store’s full assortment of grocery or center-store, items.
Frozen foods are available, as well as fresh fruits and veggies. In some cases, there’s a smaller, more refined selection online than what you find in the store of top selling items such as fresh meat, deli and bakery items and fresh seafood. As you shop online, the virtual shopping basket is updated, reflecting the items and prices.
If you’re uncertain whether you’re within the 20-mile radius, you might want to put a few items in your shopping cart and move to checkout to make sure you get the delivery option. Customers must give a minimum lead time of four hours from the time the order is submitted. During checkout, you’ll see the available delivery times, and select the most convenient time frame. In our experience, the delivery happened exactly within the two-hour window chosen.
Delivery windows vary from store to store.
You’ll pay online. The commissary accepts debit, Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover payments. They don’t accept cash, check or Electronic Benefit Transfer or / WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children) vouchers for the doorstep delivery. They’re working on the ability to accept EBT and WIC vouchers.
Note that the commissary will require you to authorize a higher amount on your card than the estimated total, which shows up pending on your debit/credit card. But only the actual amount of your order is charged. In our case, it was lower than anticipated because some of the items we ordered were not available. We noticed that it initially looked like we were getting charged twice, but we were only charged once.
Our delivery fee was $3.97. Aside from the commissary savings, the amount of money we saved on gas alone was worth it.
You have the ability to ask for substitutions if your first choice isn’t available, such as “best comparable,” “same brand, different size.” You can also make substitutions by adding notes to your order. Commissary employees will pick the items from the shelves to fill the customers’ orders, so contractors delivering the groceries just pick up the order from the stores and deliver them to the customer.
You can shop for your groceries using a variety of filters, such as brand name, items on sale, and categories, such as produce or health and beauty.
The produce we ordered was good. The bananas were “more yellow than green,” exactly as we specified. Asparagus was good.
Have you tried out the commissary doorstep delivery? Send your comments and tips to staff reporter Karen Jowers at email@example.com.
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.