[ Triad Online Home ]                                                                                       October 28, 2005

'Virtual Commissary' opens for business for authorized users

      FORT LEE, Va. (Defense Commissary Agency) -- Commissary shoppers looking for a different kind of gift for friends or family at home or abroad can let their "fingers do the clicking" at the new Virtual Commissary. Located under the shopping link at http://www.commissaries.com, Virtual Commissary will open up a whole new world of Internet shopping for authorized users of the commissary benefit.

      "We're excited about DeCA's (Defense Commissary Agency)  first adventure into the world of Internet shopping," said Patrick B. Nixon, chief executive officer and acting director for DeCA.

Photo: CM1 Josh Perry (left) and YN1 Dean Johnson of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 25, shop at the Fort McCoy Commissary. (Photo by Rob Schuette)
CM1 Josh Perry (left) and YN1 Dean Johnson of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 25, shop at the Fort McCoy Commissary. (Photo by Rob Schuette)

      Initially, one of DeCA's business partners, Kraft Foods, Inc., is kicking off Internet shopping with a selection of gift baskets. "But the number of vendors and manufacturers participating will continue to increase -- along with the variety of products," Nixon said.

      All of the products in the gift baskets at Virtual Commissary can be found on the shelves of "brick and mortar" commissaries, but the unique packaging of products into gift and special occasion baskets adds a new twist. With titles like "Camouflage," "Drill Sergeant" and "Touch of Home," the baskets offer assortments of crackers, canned cheeses, cookies, candies and even beverages and coffee packs.

      To access the extended commissary, shoppers must pass through a secure portal found under the shopping link at http://www.commissaries.com. Personal information entered by customers is validated to ensure they are an authorized shopper. Access is dependent on whether the customer is entered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). Military exchanges use a similar method to check for authorization before permitting access to exchange Web sites or online shopping.

      Department of Defense (DoD) civilians stationed overseas who are otherwise authorized to shop at commissaries may not be able to access Virtual Commissary until changes are made to the DEERS database by the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC), said DeCA officials. DMDC is targeting completion of the changes for late November.

      Virtual Commissary customers can make selections and fill in their payment and shipping information in one easy and secure step, before being transferred to the manufacturer's site where they can get total cost for the product (including the shipping) and finalize their purchase.

      Shipping and handling charges are paid by the customer, just as at most other Internet shopping sites, and charges will vary depending on the method of shipping selected, location, and the speed of delivery requested. Customers can check for availability of delivery to APO and FPO addresses as well as get more information on what's in the gift baskets by clicking on the image of the gift basket at Virtual Commissary. Payment for orders can be made with any credit card accepted in "real" commissaries and customer information is not archived by DeCA.

      Down the road, Virtual Commissary expansion could include making a wide variety of commissary products available, a feature that would allow deployed military service members, retirees, and other authorized shoppers to order items they want and need at commissary savings -- no matter where they live.

      For more information in the Fort McCoy community, visit the Commissary, building 2132, or call (608) 388-3542.

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