The pandemic has helped speed up some efforts to make shopping more convenient for military store customers.
The newest: The online shopping/store pickup program has been added to 20 more Navy Exchange locations.
There are now 28 locations where the Pick/Up Program is available, including two overseas locations — the Navy Exchange locations in Yokosuka, Japan and Guam. Pick/Up is available at about one-third of the Navy Exchange locations in the continental U.S. Officials hope to have the service at 94 Navy Exchange main store locations by the end of 2021, said Kristine Sturkie, a spokeswoman for Navy Exchange Service Command. That’s about one-third of their stores.
This program is in addition to a Navy Exchange online ordering program called Drive/Up that allows curbside pickup at 12 of their stores, started last fall. This allows customers to order online, and drive to the store to have their purchases brought to their vehicle. Officials don’t plan to expand this to other locations, Sturkie said.
These Navy Exchange locations join Army and Air Force Exchange Service stores, some Marine Corps Exchange stores and some commissaries with similar online ordering/pickup options. Store officials had begun some of these initiatives before the pandemic, as a convenience, but ramped up their efforts.
The pickup services have been popular at locations where military stores have offered them, as customers have sought to limit possible exposure to the coronavirus. More grocers and retailers outside the gates, such as Target, have offered the pickup services during the pandemic, too.
AAFES: Over the last year during the pandemic, AAFES has rolled out curbside pickup to virtually all their stores. That’s in addition to their buy online/in-store pickup which was already available. Customers can also use the Digital Garrison app at Army bases where it’s available, for online shopping, and connect to curbside pickup or in-store pickup. Since rolling out the curbside pickup AAFES stores have filled more than 20,000 orders. They’ve also filled more than 300,000 orders for pickup in store since the retailer began rolling out that program in late 2018, said AAFES spokesman Chris Ward.
Marine Corps exchanges at Quantico and Parris Island are offering curbside pickup for select items, with ordering apps.
Commissaries: Ten commissary locations have the Click2Go curbside pickup service, and officials are pushing to increase the number of Click2Go locations to 60 commissaries within two years.
Everyone in the military community who is authorized to shop on base can use these pickup programs, regardless of which branch of service. That includes all disabled veterans with a VA service-connected disability rating.
The Navy Exchange’s Pick/Up Program allows authorized customers to purchase items on myNavyExchange.com/PickUp, and then pick up their purchases inside their local Navy Exchange store, if the service is available there. There is no minimum purchase or surcharge for using the program.
Not every item is eligible for in-store pickup, but categories include hardware, home goods, pet items, electronics, fitness military pride, tactical, personal care items, vitamins, baby and children’s items, accessories, handbags, shoes and apparel and holiday items. After adding items to the shopping cart, customers select their store for pickup, then pay and submit the order. If the order is placed at least two hours before the store’s normal closing time, it will be ready for pickup within two hours. Customers receive email notifications when the order is placed, and when it’s ready for pickup. Customers take their military ID, dependent ID or CAC card to the designated Pick/Up area.
The 18 additional stores with new Pick/Up service in the continental U.S. are:
California: NEX North Island, NEX Port Hueneme and NEX Lemoore
Connecticut: NEX New London
Florida: NEX Mayport and NEX Orlando
Illinois: NEX Great Lakes
Louisiana: NEX Belle Chasse
Maryland: NEX Annapolis and NEX Patuxent River
Mississippi: NEX Gulfport
Rhode Island: NEX Newport
South Carolina: NEX Charleston
Tennessee: NEX Memphis
Texas: NEX Corpus Christi
Washington: NEX Whidbey Island, NEX Everett and NEX Bangor
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.