The ease of online grocery ordering and curbside pickup could be coming soon to a commissary near you.
Building on the success of the Click2Go online shopping and pickup program instituted at five military installations in the U.S. in 2019, the Defense Commissary Agency announced Tuesday it will expand the service to include all domestic commissaries by the end of the year.
It plans to provide the program to overseas commissaries "soon thereafter," according to a release issued by the agency Tuesday.
DeCA director and CEO Bill Moore said the agency has made improvements to the systems and online shopping portals that make it easier for the commissaries and customers to offer and use Click2Go.
"We learned a lot about what our customers want during our initial 11-store rollout," Moore said in the announcement. "We're going to deliver this great service to all commissaries as soon as possible."
The new system will offer online payment, advertise sales and promotions, provide information on products and feature recipes.
Moore said the online payment option is the most significant improvement, providing a true curbside delivery experience that allows employees to load groceries directly into vehicles.
"That's a streamlined process our customers expect in this information age," Moore said.
Click2Go is now offered at 11 domestic commissaries. DeCA will update its listings as more stores come online, officials said.
"We'll have the schedule on our website to keep people updated as best we can," he added. "Our promise is to get it to all U.S. stores this calendar year -- maybe sooner -- and we are committed to getting it to our overseas stores soon thereafter, as we work through international challenges like COVID restrictions."
Commissary stores saw increases in sales beginning in 2020 with the addition of new patrons. More than 4.1 million disabled veterans became eligible to shop at the stores on Jan. 1.
Before the pandemic shutdown, on March 13, the system saw its highest single sales day ever -- $34.4 million. The increase was sustained in April, up 9% from the previous year.
Moore has made expanding commissary patronage a top priority since he was named CEO in 2019. When he joined the agency, DeCA intended to expand Click2Go to 60 stores over the next several years.
The service was hampered by the user interface and the storage capacity needed to hold grocery orders, Moore told Military.com last year. He said the expansion aligns with the strategic goal to improve accessibility of the commissary benefit.
He added that DeCA is also exploring the possibility of on-base grocery delivery, to the door to the barracks or to homes.
Expanding Click2Go is just a start.
"I envision it will enable us to eventually offer delivery -- where our patrons can enjoy their hard-earned benefit from the comfort of their homes or barracks," he said.
The Defense Department's 236 commissaries offer groceries at discounted prices to service members, retirees, family members and disabled veterans. Shoppers pay a 5% surcharge to cover construction and maintenance costs.
The stories must provide 23.7% savings over community stores, as measured by the "local market basket average," calculated through surveys of stores in surrounding communities.
Click2Go is currently available in Virginia at Fort Belvoir, Fort Eustis, Fort Lee, Oceana Naval Air Station and Marine Corps Base Quantico, and at Naval Air Station Jacksonville in Florida, Fort Polk, Louisiana, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey, Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, and Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina.
-- Patricia Kime can be reached at Patricia.Kime@Monster.com. Follow her on Twitter @patriciakime.