Understanding the Exchange’s Strategic Priorities

Create a Secure, Digitally Integrated Infrastructure to Support the Exchange’s Corporate Growth Strategies

This article is part of an ongoing series about the Exchange’s strategic priorities for 2017.

The project NextGen, as in “next generation,” is an important component of the Exchange’s 2017 strategic priority: Create a secure, digitally integrated infrastructure to support the Exchange’s corporate growth strategies.

The IT Directorate and EPMO teamed up with the Customer Experience business leads, Kris Kovas and Masuma Tiwana, to create what managers call a “remarkable customer experience.”

Other participating directorates include Merchandising, the Exchange Credit Program, Finance & Accounting, Logistics and the Executive Group.

This project is also critical for the Exchange’s 2017 top priority: Execute the Veterans online shopping benefit.

“NextGen ensures that our website provides a great customer experience for our current customers and the millions of Veterans we are welcoming home.”

– Danny Starnes,
vice president of mobile and web services

‘Boundary-less’ experience

On Nov. 11, potentially 13 million honorably discharged Veterans will be able to shop for the first time on ShopMyExchange.com, regardless of their years in the armed forces. NextGen and other improvements to the back-end technology will help ensure the website can handle that much additional traffic.

“NextGen is one of the keys to providing a “boundary-less” retail experience for our customers,” said Danny Starnes who, as vice president of mobile and web services, is directing the overarching Veterans shopping project.  “NextGen was truly a team effort, with multiple teams across several directorates creating our Next Generation shopping site.”

“NextGen ensures that our website provides a great customer experience for our current customers and the millions of Veterans we are welcoming home,” Starnes said. “An enhanced eCommerce returns process also was implemented with NextGen to support those Veterans.”

Laying the foundation

The Exchange’s Clyde Todd and Natalia Donovan, who are leading the day-in, day-out project activities, said NextGen also lays the foundation to ensure the site can handle peak season volume along with expected demand from the Veterans online shopping benefit.

NextGen provides the most advanced eCommerce technology to support future growth and address the shopping habits of today’s tech-savvy Exchange customers. Last month, online shoppers began seeing the entire ShopMyExchange.com screen regardless of what device—smartphone, tablet or desktop computer—they were using.

NextGen also addresses a critical piece of the Ship-From-Store program by providing near real-time inventory updates.

NextGen now allows ShopMyExchange.com to update inventory within 30 to 45 minutes from the time of an in-store sale so customers will know immediately if an item is available. ‘This improves the customer experience and ensures they receive accurate in-stock and out-of-stock notifications online,” said Tanesha Roberts, who, along with Will Gibbs, is leading the project for all Veterans online shopping benefit activities.

Encourage shoppers

All associates should be aware of the improvements to ShopMyExchange.com and encourage shoppers to go online, Roberts said.

Another value-added service  planned for 2018 is the redesigning of the online shopping cart and checkout section to include ways to prompt customers to sign up for the MILITARY STAR® card. This will fulfill another Exchange strategic priority: Increase the MILITARY STAR portfolio.

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