Members of the Veterans Affairs Commission for the City and County of San Francisco salute participants in the annual Veterans day parade in San Francisco, Calif., on Friday, November 11, 2011.

Understanding Exchange Strategic Priorities: Execute the Veterans Online Shopping Benefit

As the Veterans online shopping benefit launches Nov. 11, we celebrate the hard work Exchange associates have put into accomplishing this monumental task.

Thank you for spreading the word about the Veterans online shopping benefit. Thank you for working tirelessly to prepare for this milestone.

—Director/CEO Tom Shull

Since January, when the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness formally concurred with the Veterans online shopping benefit, every aspect of our business has been engaged in ensuring a successful rollout on Veterans Day.

Exchange directorates and regions have been all in, collaborating as one team, but each has accomplished separate tasks to make the launch a success:


  • Improved fulfillment and distribution capacities to ship merchandise to new online shoppers.
  • Transformed distribution centers into fulfillment centers.
  • Enhanced all three CONUS distribution centers to handle increased volume and create a better customer experience.
  • Implemented a new eCommerce returns process at the CONUS distribution centers in conjunction with IT.

Human Resources

  • Recruited and on-boarded over 200 new associates for the Contact Center.
  • Researched, established and recruited key executive talent in various functions.
  • Developed and implemented tailored customer service training to Contact Center associates.


  • Reviewed and implemented planning, allocating and replenishment modifications to ensure adequate inventory.
  • Enhanced vendor performance management on current vendors along with adding new vendors.

eCommerce/Customer Experience

  • Reviewed website modifications and call center capabilities to handle the extra customer demand of returning Veterans.
  • Implemented so that Veterans could authenticate their service status to begin shopping with the Exchange online on Veterans Day.
  • Launched improved website, in conjunction with the IT team, with the features:
    • Near real-time inventory.
    • Better customer order fulfillment.
    • Responsive design that is more customer-friendly and easier to update as customer demand changes.

Omnichannel Marketing 

  • Developed messaging and segment marketing strategy, with customer relations management functions and tailored communications.
  • Created marketing media kits. 

Information Technology

  • Developed
  • Upgraded to improve the customer experience from purchase to delivery.
  • Updated to allow the Exchange to handle 30,000 concurrent users.
  • Created process to review discharge forms to authenticate unknown status Veterans.
  • Enhanced capacity to handle forecasted demand.

Business Development/Business Intelligence

  • Developed Veteran authentication process.
  • Established working relationship with Defense Manpower Data Center for customer authentication, data analysis, and insights.
  • Established a relationship with the National Archives and arranged a first-time-ever data share of 80 million Veteran records to enable authentication.
  • Established a relationship with the Department of Veterans Affairs to coordinate identity-building and authentication for Veterans.   
  • Obtained Veteran demographics to enable targeted communication with Veterans.

Executive Group 

  • Coordinated media interviews for Director/CEO Tom Shull to communicate externally the Veterans online shopping benefit.
  • Targeted communications to Veteran audience.
  • Highlighted advantages of using the online benefit primarily by social media posts and answering social media comments.
  • Helped associates communicate the new benefit to their families and friends.
  • Informed associates about Veterans online shopping benefit and its importance.

Finance and Accounting 

  • Developed business case to support the Veterans online shopping benefit.
  • Created financial model to forecast increase demand and volume from Veterans online shopping benefit.

Exchange Credit Program   

  • Completed CAPEX project that replaced multiple contact center systems to better serve customers.
  • Stood up contact center to authenticate and welcome home veterans.
    • Implemented a “Patriotic” brand environment in the call center and on associate materials, such as phone and computer screens.         
  • Partnered with HR to hire and train new associates supporting both and
  • Enhanced MILITARY STAR processes specifically tailored to reduce risk with new customer base.

Strategic Planning and Partnerships 

  • Reviewed and evaluated regulatory matters, updated existing memorandums of understanding, association or agreement and drafted new MOA/MOUs.

Real Estate

  • Constructed new space to accommodate the expanded contact center.

Regional support

  • Conducted Veterans events, main store managers’ meetings, retiree appreciation days and command briefings to create excitement for the new benefit.
  • Displayed Veterans online shopping benefit and signs in-store.
  • Implemented Ship-from-Store to improve delivery times and reduce costs.

Getting to this point where the Veterans online shopping benefit becomes a reality wouldn’t have been possible without each associate leaning forward with dedication and determination to reach our goal of welcoming home potentially 18.5 Veterans.Your efforts ensure our Nation’s heroes have a lifelong exchange benefit for generations to come.

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