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Military shoppers who don't live near an exchange on an Army post or Air Force base — or simply don't have time to shop there — are starting to see more options online for their favorite brands.
Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials have added eight brands and 214 items to the http://www.shopmyexchange.com/">Exchange Online Store. The goal is to increase the online product selection to mirror the biggest AAFES stores.
Until now, the philosophy was to "complement" the selection in the stores, so most items found in stores were unavailable online.
Product lines that have expanded online so far include Dyson, Keurig, Bissell, Hoover, Bose, Canon, Nikon and Apple. Coming in October and November are Sharp, HP, LG, Skull Candy and Martha Stewart.
An additional 35 brands are in the pipeline, including Clinique, Coach, Michael Kors, Vera Bradley and Fuji, to name a few.
Some products from many of these brands already are online, but the selection will expand further to reflect what's in stores.
Shoppers can search by brand name or within a product category. One change in the website is that shoppers can see products available without logging in to the website.
Some prices are visible without logging in. Some have the manufacturer's suggested retail price listed, and you must log in to see the exchange price. A username and password are required only for checkout and to see the prices.
The Navy Exchange Service Command https://www.mynavyexchange.com/">launched its own website a couple of years ago as an extension of its stores.
NEXCOM's goal is to provide the same items, prices and promotions online as service members and their families can find in Navy stores, and it's helpful for those who don't live near a Navy exchange. The online site has gradually added items since its launch.
Expanding the online product selection has been one of the goals of Tom Shull, who took over as AAFES director in June.
He's the first civilian director in the exchange system's 116-year history.
"We want to make sure that everything is matched, so that if they leave the store, they can go online and order it," Shull said in a recent interview.
Less than three months after his arrival, customers are seeing the fruits of those efforts.
Authorized customers of any branch of service, including active duty, retirees, National Guard and Reserve and their families, can shop at both online exchange stores.
Commissary deals in October
It's time to start thinking about the holidays. Here are some of the deals you'll find in your local commissary:
• Starting Oct. 25, commissary customers will be able to buy their complete Thanksgiving meal. At commissaries in the U.S., a coupon booklet valued at more than $40 will feature savings on items from Kraft Foods, ConAgra Foods, General Mills, Quaker Oats, Heinz, Fresh Express, Pepperidge Farm, Procter & Gamble, Nestle Water and Hefty/Reynolds Wrap.
Shoppers in Europe, Puerto Rico, Guantanamo Bay and the Pacific will receive eight-page coupon flyers valued at more than $32.
• On Oct. 14, Procter & Gamble will distribute coupons on its name-brand products. For every coupon redeemed, P&G will make a donation to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
• Through Oct. 24, General Mills will offer coupons on select brands packaged in pink in support of breast cancer awareness month.
• Through mid-October, commissaries will offer sales and coupons for imported items from Germany and other European countries, including chocolates, cookies, sauerkraut, mustard, red cabbage, pickles, noodles, coffee and other items.
AAFES accepts Medagate card
AAFES stores are accepting the Medagate Over the Counter benefits card worldwide, enabling Medicare and Medicaid customers to pay for over-the-counter medicine and medical supplies.
Medagate OTC cards are issued to Medicare and Medicaid members on behalf of insurance providers and are periodically reloaded. Cardholders bring their items to the AAFES cash register (including Express, Troop Store and Main Store locations), where the cards are swiped to pay for eligible items.
This eliminates the customer's need to seek reimbursement or wait up to a week for delivery for items ordered from an online catalog.