Military Spouse Magazine

OCT 2018

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O U R L I V E S A FRESH VISION Since November 2017, retired Navy Rear Adm. Robert Bianchi has been acting as the Defense Commissary Agency's (DeCA) interim director and chief executive officer. He is also chief executive officer of the Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM). Sharing these roles puts Bianchi in the unique position of seeing areas of collaboration across the two organiza- tions. Bianchi served in the U.S. Navy with more than 29 years of service as a Navy supply corps officer. "I used the benefits and they are important to me and my family," says Bianchi, who is the first com- missary director who was also an authorized patron prior to taking the position. "I think having lived it and having moved around, gave me a different lens." What was one of his first priorities? Finding out what was on shoppers' minds. He contacted his stores to ask that the commissary team participate in the activities on base, to include any town hall events, so they could educate families and get their feedback on new initiatives. That is how baggerless shop- ping became an option at the commissary. "We're looking at the whole customer shopping journey," says Bianchi. "If you don't want to have the bagger, you can bag your own. We're not going away from the baggers, but we want to give folks choices." Modern Shopping The commissary wants you to shop with them. This is what they are doing to make that happen. By Janine Boldrin, Managing Editor YOUR OPTIONS The commissary wants to deliver benefits in a better way. There are new labels on the shelves: Freedom's Choice for food items and HomeBase for nonfood items such as paper and household products. These are the commis- sary's private labels that aim to give shoppers low cost equivalents to name brands. "It comes down to modern families want choices. It provides them high quality products at a lower price," says Bianchi. Bianchi says that he has asked installation leadership to tell him what the commissary can be doing to help them execute the mission better. Does the commissary being closed on certain days impact them? Do train- ing schedules mean the commissary should be open later? And do store hours reflect dual-in- come family schedules? "I have expanded the authority to my team to work with the bases and, if it makes sense, to be open later on a particular day, or on the weekend," says Bianchi. "And we actually have three locations where we have tailored hours to the bat- tle rhythm of the base." The commissary is exploring forward- thinking options and implementing programs that will keep them com- petitive with grocery stores outside of the gate. "When you shop at places like Whole Foods, you're paying a lot. This is an area that the commissary can give shoppers a value. A place to purchase their organics, fresh items, their healthy foods," says Bianchi. From home delivery to ready-to-eat options to affordable organics, innovation and choice rules when it comes to buying groceries. With nearly 240 commissaries in 13 countries, the commissary knows it needs to adopt innovative practices so patrons keep coming in the door. They want military families to make their first stop the commissary when it comes to buying their groceries. And the competition is pushing them to work even faster to make it happen. Illustrations by Greg Sinic 12 MILITARYSPOUSE.COM / OCTOBER 2018

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