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Where did my coffee go?

Many employees that work at the Defense Commissary Agency are also eligible shoppers of the commissary.  This gives us a unique ability to understand the ins and outs of the military resale network.  We even share in your frustrations that sometimes occur.  Decisions we make as an agency effect our own abilities to utilize the benefit…like when we delete a product.

So, you have been buying “your” brand of coffee of 20 years and all of a sudden it is no longer on the shelves?  Instead, it was replaced by a new brand of coffee.  Your immediate reaction is shock.  Why? How? This is impossible.  You bought your brand of coffee for twenty years!  You loved it and so must everyone else.  “It was always a great seller! This new coffee must be inferior.  The commissary must not like us.  They don’t understand us.  The commissary is shutting down!”

If you bought it so must thousands of other people, right?  After a rigorous complaint trail your concern reaches DeCA headquarters eventually leading to one inevitable truth.  Your coffee is gone and it’s not coming back.  It is indeed replaced and deleted from the commissary system.  You are no less shocked than when you first saw your favorite coffee replaced the first time.

Take a step back.

Let’s talk about the struggles of deciding which products to sell in your commissary versus the thousands of other products that we don’t have space to accommodate.  Our category managers get no benefit from deleting any product.  They get no kickbacks from marketers and no bonuses for eliminating goods from store shelves.  The fact of the matter is there are thousands of products that our category managers have to research but only a finite amount of space.  Each product has a different brand, quality, sales performance, savings and variety.  We strive to only carry the top-selling products in each category.

Your commissary operates on a pull system.  A typical grocery store operates on a push system.  Grocery stores advertise and promote products to get you to shop there and buy.  They spend money to produce sales.  Your commissary does not.  Our product selection is based on what sells.  If a product is not selling, we cannot increase our marketing budget to push this product to you.  The commissary is not authorize to advertise. Even if a product appears to be in high demand at one commissary, this may not be the case in all of our stores.  Customer needs differ from store to store.

Products that are not selling are best taken off the shelf; they serve our customer no good.  Instead, our buyers replace them with products that are bought by customers.  Thus, operating on a pull system.  This serves the military community better as a whole by providing for more patrons.  While having your favorite product deleted can be frustrating, please understand there are thousands of other military members that are not buying it but would buy a different brand.  The pull system of the commissary allows our customers to speak for themselves.  Our category managers look at sales data on a daily basis.  The system works if you allow it to work.

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