It’s no secret, sales are down. If you look at where sales for the commissary agency peaked in 2012, sales have decreased about 25 percent. This is not all at once of course. The decrease has averaged about 5 percent each year from 2012. It’s slight grade on a slope. A ski slope. Going down is bumpy and it hurts. Getting back up takes time. It’s a lot slower. Gravity is against you and you hope the lift doesn’t break while you are on it. Alas, this slope has provided an avalanche of change. These snowballs of change get thrown around. Some hit their target. You can laugh and chalk up a point for your team. Others hit you right in the face. You cry a little bit and contemplate why you decide it was a good idea in the first place.
It’s a slope of change. You feel it and you see it. Patrons get more Freedom’s Choice, HomeBase, TopCare, and Tippy Toes selections almost weekly. Some patrons got mad at the ski lift operator. I think their ascent to top of the slope was a little longer than usual. Other patrons embraced our store brands and sales of these products increase month after month. Then there was the ski lift house, our new customer portal website. It’s like an avalanche blasted through that. Yes, that almost shut down the entire ski slope … but we can always walk to the top. However, there is the little problem of the snow melting. We aren’t getting product. According to Retired Navy Rear Adm. Robert J. Bianchi “I’ve had situations with some distributors where we have 50 percent fill rates coming out of their warehouses.” That cuts down on the avalanche problem the ski slope just got harder and bumpier.
The point is, we want to get the ski slope up and running at full capacity. We are starting to hold our distributors accountable in an effort to get fill rates up to 98 percent. Our website team is working around the clock to fix log-in issues and Rewards Card functions. This is all while facing cuts to our operating budget and congressional demands for maintaining a minimum savings. We instituted YES! (Your Everyday Savings) to make sure we offer you steep discounts on products you buy every day. On top of that our variable pricing authority enhances our ability to maintain savings at 23.7 percent based on regional pricing of outside competitors. We’ve expanded our collaborative efforts with the exchanges to improve your savings through partnerships. We are expanding CLICK2GO to four stores and have plans underway to launch our online shopping and curbside pickup service at more stores throughout the year.
We can accept responsibility to challenges facing DeCA. This requires a slope of change to get us back to the top. We are headed there and rest assured we are taking you with us. Just like that trip from the top of the mountain, it’s an exciting journey. It’s bumpy, difficult, cold but also fun. We fall down only to get up and try again. We get to do things we have never done before. There is plenty of exciting changes happening at DeCA. We are going to reach the top again. Stay with us on our climb and gather memories along the way.