Veterans Online Shopping Benefit, E-Commerce Capabilities Drive Transformation in Logistics

The Exchange is only weeks away from welcoming home all who served honorably with a lifetime online military exchange shopping benefit. Your tireless efforts will soon pay off for approximately 21 million Veterans through the Veterans online shopping benefit, the first expansion of exchange benefits in nearly 30 years.

The Exchange has prepared for months—well before the Department of Defense approved the policy change earlier this year—to ensure is fully prepared to provide an outstanding experience to all customers as our online shopping base of 11 million grows by potentially 21 million. This month, Columbus Day weekend sales will be a final test and dress rehearsal before we open our online doors to our nation’s Veterans this Veterans Day, Nov. 11.

For the Exchange’s Logistics Directorate, leaning forward has meant transforming the way our CONUS distribution centers in Virginia, Texas and California operate as they become online fulfillment centers.

With help from IT, Merchandising and Human Resources, LG leaders  began laying the groundwork for significant changes several months ago. The strides made in the past year have been impressive. Updated technology, space reallocation inside the DCs, additional work shifts and other improvements have paved the way for handling expected e-commerce growth.

“This month, Columbus Day weekend sales will be a final test and dress rehearsal before we open our online doors to our Nation’s Veterans this Veterans Day.”

New JDA warehouse management software has been implemented at the West Coast and Waco DCs for e-commerce fulfillment. The robust software allows the DCs to better manage productivity and workload, and inventory on all items fulfilled by the DCs, tracking every item ordered on, its location in the warehouse and movement throughout receiving, shipping and packing.

All three DCs, including Dan Daniel, have been enhanced to handle increased volume, creating a better customer experience.

Space inside the DCs has been reallocated for e-commerce. Each DC has specific locations where merchandise to fulfill e-commerce orders is stored.

5 big words: Pick, Pack, Ship Same Day

At Waco, the transformation in the past year has been tremendous, as it now receives, stores and ships most softlines items ordered online. At Dan Daniel, our flagship DC, conveyors bring items to an automated consolidation area on a mezzanine level to ensure all items in a customer’s order are shipped at the same time, saving transportation costs and creating a better shopping experience.

Packing stations, with boxes, tape, bubble wrap and all supplies associates need to properly send items to shoppers are set up—with room to add more. Associates live by the mantra of “pick, pack, ship same day,” making sure online orders are fulfilled as quickly as possible.

These DCs are now handling all e-commerce returns as well. Returned items in good condition are stored in the DCs or sent to select main stores. Customer returns are processed immediately—and shoppers get refunds in just days.

At the transformation’s heart

LG associates remain at the heart of the transformation. Dan Daniel, Waco and West Coast each have dedicated teams responsible for e-commerce.

In some cases, associates have learned new jobs quickly and taken on additional duties. Permanent shifts have been added—and the DCs will be operating seven days a week so customers receive their orders faster.

These associates have a deep passion for their work. They fully recognize they are the “final touch” from the Exchange before an online order is sent to a Soldier, Airman or military family member.

Extremely strong logistics network

This dedicated team has embraced that e-commerce is our new retail battlefield, and they are up to the task of ensuring customers have the best experience possible, from the moment they unwrap their boxes from

It takes an extremely strong logistics network to be able to compete with other online retailers.  LG’s transformation allows the Exchange to give shoppers a seamless experience, one they expect and deserve.

The military ‘connection’

Installation Management Command Commanding General LTG Kenneth Dahl, a member of the Exchange Board of Directors, recently had firsthand look at our transformation at the West Coast DC. He told the team, “Veterans will want to shop with you online. They will like the connection to the military—Soldier for Life, Airman for Life. They will recognize that by shopping with the Exchange, they are putting money back into Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs in local communities. It’s very important we sustain our connection with Veterans, and the Veterans online benefit is an exciting new way to do that.”

The transformation LG has undergone is important to achieving our vision to honor the service of all who raised their right hands, took the oath and did their part to make a difference.

Thank you all for leaning forward as the Exchange drives toward what will be a historic day for our Nation’s Veterans on Nov. 11.

Click here to watch a video honoring our nation’s Veterans.

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