By Eric Dehm
As of Veterans Day 2017, every honorably discharged vet gained access to online shopping privileges after verifying their veteran status through VetVerify.org.
But what, exactly, comes along with that? Tax-free shopping, sure, but beyond that why should vets be checking ShopMyExchange, MyNavyExchange, MyMCX and ShopCGX? Do they really think they’re going to be able to compete with Wal-Mart, Amazon, Best Buy and the rest of the big boys of online retail for veteran’s dollars? We did a little comparing on our own but for more detail, we invited the President and Chief Merchandising Officer of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, (and former Air Force brat) Ana Middleton, on to The Morning Briefing to find out everything we could about the program and to ask the questions we’ve seen vets asking about the new program.
Here are the answers to the burning questions vets still have on this new program, starting off with the #1 concern veterans who contacted us had:
1. If people find a better deal on another retailer, will you price match it?
“Yes. When you search (for a price), we will win some of the time, and when we don’t? We will price match. We price match major retailers. Amazon, Lowe’s, Macy’s, Wal-Mart, Target… they have to be a major retailer. We’re not going to match ‘Crazy Harry’s Basement Deals’ because I don’t know what kind of infrastructure they have, whether a product is refurbished or original, so we go with the major retailers. It has to be the exact same item.”
2. What aspect of the price do you match, since the exchange is tax-free and free shipping?
“We price match our competitor’s pre-tax ‘pure price’ combined with shipping and handling. There are some limits to that. It can’t be a limited item, for example.” As is the industry standard, we do not price match from Thanksgiving through ‘cyber Monday.’
3. Since we can’t walk into a store and do it in person, how does the process of price matching work online?
“You can call our call-center or communicate with us through the online chat on the website, and then you provide the info on where you saw it, or provide us a screenshot and we will check it.”
4. Where did this program come from?
“Our CEO, Mr. Tom Shull, came in and was very concerned that we were not able to take care of veterans… when you fast forward to today and some of the kids out there, their parents have deployed five, six times in the span of a very short career. Tom started to think about ‘how is that sacrifice any less than the 20 year commitment?’ and he felt very strongly that we needed to pay this benefit forward, that it was a matter of really taking care of your family members.”
5. Why is it online only?
“We didn’t want to impact the infrastructure or capabilities of installations.”
6. Where does the money made by the exchange go?
“100% of our profit goes back into quality of life and MWR programs… everything we do, we give back in the dividend, in upgrading our facilities, we believe strongly in wounded warrior hiring, we believe strongly in spouse hiring… the benefit is huge beyond just the tax-free shopping, it’s about an ecosystem that helps support the environment that we all love, the military environment.”
7. You’re not price matching for the black Friday-cyber Monday period. Is that because the deals you’re offering are already substantially lower than normal prices?
“Yes it is. As just one example, we have a 4K Samsung television with an MSRP of $999 that we are offering for $399.”
8. Many people exchanges were always very upfront about when you needed to order items in order to get them in time for the holidays, is that still the case?
“It is and we do have those dates posted on the website. If you’re overseas, for APO or FPO it’s 4 December, and in the continental US it’s 10 December for bulk shipment and regular ground 14 December, and priority is 19 December.”
To find out more, the full interview with Ana Middleton is below and can be streamed or downloaded for later listening by clicking the share button and selecting download from the list of options.