As brick-and-mortar retailers invest heavily in strengthening online offerings and e-commerce powerhouses acquire competitors to leverage physical stores, we are witnessing a seismic shift in retail. Fortunately, we saw this coming and began focusing resources, time and attention to ShopMyExchange.com five years ago.
Everything about the Exchange online experience, from purchase to delivery, has been significantly improved and our customers are noticing. In fact, our YTD online sales are up 18 percent vs. prior year, with nearly 3 million items ordered. ShopMyExchange.com’s average online order is now $248, far above Walmart.com’s average of $108. Additionally, our August after-purchase customer satisfaction survey (conducted by ForeSee, the leading independent retail analytics company) achieved a score of 79 vs. the overall retail average of 71.
“Everything about the Exchange online experience, from purchase to delivery, has been significantly improved and our customers are noticing.”
While we have made tremendous headway, there is much more to be done. IT is our lead tank on our Next Generation or “NextGen” initiative to further improve the customer experience. Even though the look and feel of the website remains largely unchanged to the customer, NextGen has important “under the hood” enhancements critical for improving the shopping experience and allowing for future modernizations. The first two phases, launched in August, provided the following important key features:
- Responsive design enhances the mobile shopping experience so ShopMyExchange.com fits the screen of whichever device a customer is using to shop. Around 50 percent of customers shop ShopMyExchange.com on a mobile device and the other half use a desktop. Going forward, mobile device shoppers will have a materially improved shopping experience.
- Near real-time inventory allows ShopMyExchange.com to update inventory every 30 to 45 minutes. This is a game changer especially for our Ship-From-Store program. Before, if an item was inadvertently sold that was actually out of stock, we would have to manually process these orders causing extra costs and potential customer disappointments. With inventory updates throughout the day, customers can be sure the item they desire is in stock and ready to ship.
- Future base pricing provides a platform to better time manage promotional pricing. This will facilitate MD’s sales event management.
- Business preview environment allows us to review items and pricing before they go live on the website, thereby reducing errors, which can frustrate customers and erode the bottom line.
- Highly available website decreases downtime even as upgrades are made.
- Capacity upgrade – NextGen allows 30,000 customers to shop simultaneously and can further increase as the business expands. This is essential as we welcome all of our nation’s honorably discharged Veterans home to their military family this Veterans Day when the Veterans online shopping benefit officially launches. (Tell a Veteran to go to VetVerify.org today!)
“We all play a role in adjusting to the rapidly changing retail landscape. Thank you for all you have done and will do to ensure our business and the benefit we are honored to provide service members and their families are healthy and relevant.”
While IT has the lead on NextGen, all members of our team are doing their part to make ShopMyExchange.com a success. Logistics has reimagined our supply chain as they transform warehouses into fulfillment centers; associates in our brick-and-mortar exchanges are leaning forward with Ship-from-Store to improve delivery times and reduce costs; call center teammates are addressing challenges and ensuring customer satisfaction; eCommerce and Business Intelligence are launching targeted marketing efforts to drive higher conversion rates; and the Merchandise Directorate is refining the online assortment to ensure we are competitive.
The online customer experience has significantly improved, but by no means is the end result. The foundation we build today is a spring board for continual progress. Plans are already in the works for further customer experience and value-added service enhancements in 2018.
We all play a role in adjusting to the rapidly changing retail landscape. Thank you for all you have done and will do to ensure our business and the benefit we are honored to provide service members and their families are healthy and relevant.
Soldier for Life! Veteran For Life!