The Defense Commissary Agency, or DeCA, is gearing up to provide grocery delivery from stateside stores, beginning with a test run at eight facilities sometime in the coming months.
A preliminary contract solicitation published by the Defense Department on Jan. 31 indicates that a pilot program will offer delivery within a 20-mile "driven" radius of select stores.
Orders would be placed through DeCA's online Click2Go system, already in use for curbside pickup.
According to the contract notice, the installations selected for the test include:
- Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California
- Naval Base San Diego, California
- MacDill Air Force Base, Florida
- Scott Air Force Base, Illinois
- Fort Bragg South Post commissary, North Carolina
- Fort Belvoir, Virginia
- Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia
- Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington
The solicitation does not include a timeline for the program to start. Defense Commissary Agency spokesman Kevin Robinson declined Tuesday to comment on the projected availability.
"It would not be appropriate for the Defense Commissary Agency to comment on the specifics of this procurement action," Robinson told Military.com.
The pilot is expected to run for a little over four months, with the selected delivery company given 45 days to develop its system and 90 days of delivery service, according to the notice.
Under the program, customers will place their orders; select a two-hour delivery window; and pay via Click2Go, with the total cost covering groceries, the commissary surcharge, delivery fee and tip.
Commissary staff will then select, bag and stage the items for the contractor to pick up and deliver during the selected time frame.
Customers will set a preference to be notified of the delivery via call, text or email.
The solicitation does not specify how much contractors will charge for a delivery. Delivery fees from popular grocery stores such as WalMart or Giant depend on the size of the order, ranging from $6.95 to $9.95 with discounts for memberships.
The fee likely will be determined by the contractor.
Under the contract, the commissary will remain the initial point of contact for customers who have problems with their orders, including damaged or unusable products. The contractor is obligated to reimburse the government for any waste resulting from poor handling or delayed delivery.
The delivery company will be responsible for ensuring that cold and frozen items are delivered at appropriate temperatures, according to the solicitation.
System-wide curbside pickup and home delivery have been long-term goals for Defense Commissary Agency Director Bill Moore, who assumed leadership of the agency five months after the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Moore told Military.com in December 2020 that DeCA needed to begin offering such services at all stores to remain competitive, increase patronage and improve access to the commissary benefit.
"I don't feel like we have a whole lot of time to make some significant changes. The benefit is just too important to not being better at it and delivering it," Moore said during an interview Dec. 15, 2020.
During the pandemic, DeCA accelerated the timeline for instituting curbside pickup through Click2Go across the system. As of Sept. 30, 2021, all 236 commissaries offer online ordering and pickup.
The contract pre-solicitation indicates that the goal is to provide home delivery at all commissaries in the continental United States but does not establish a timeline for complete rollout. It asks interested companies to provide information on their nationwide delivery capability, as well as their initial delivery abilities and potential expansion.
-- Patricia Kime can be reached at Patricia.Kime@Military.com. Follow her on Twitter @patriciakime.