Military exchange customers shopping for major appliances such as refrigerators, washers and dryers will have more options — to include improved delivery and installation services — through a new partnership between The Home Depot and exchange officials.
The plan is to launch by the spring of 2023, said Karen Cardin, chief merchandising officer for the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, at the annual convention of the American Logistics Association.
She and other members of the Joint Buying Alliance — which includes AAFES, and Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard exchanges — said they are working together to find ways to offer better pricing for military customers. The Home Depot partnership, which starts with AAFES and NEX, is just one of about a dozen projects the alliance has been working on for the past two years.
“We wanted to make sure we do best-in-class service for our military families,” Cardin said. “One place we weren’t able to do that as we wanted to was in our major appliances; that big difference was in the delivery. We just couldn’t get the delivery to acceptable levels,” Cardin said.
Shoppers will be able to get a discount, while making their purchase tax-free, she said. The orders for the major appliances in store or online will be filled by Home Depot, and it will handle delivery and installation.
“Our retail agreement with the AAFES and NEX will provide exchange shoppers access to our expansive assortment of laundry and kitchen appliances, increasing value and convenience for these customers,” said Mark Kaasa, Home Depot’s merchandising vice president for appliances, in a statement provided to Military Times. “We’re looking forward to the launch of the partnership in early 2023.”
“We think they will be fantastic partners,” Cardin said. The exchanges currently sell major appliances, but the primary motivation for this was providing better service to customers, she said. “Our customers deserve this.”
Information was not available about what the discount will be; more information is expected from Home Depot in November.
“We wouldn’t do this unless the patron was getting better service and savings,” Rich Honiball, NEX’s chief merchandising and marketing officer, told Military Times.
Currently, Home Depot offers a general discount of 10% to military and veterans, up to $400 annually, but the discount doesn’t apply to appliances, according to the Home Depot website. More details about the parameters of the appliances program will be available later.
“We would carry the brands we have now, but with Home Depot as a partner,” Honiball said.
“Home Depot is a very strong company, and they are very veteran-driven,” he said, adding that he believes Home Depot “is a best-in-class retailer who has very strong relationships with the same brands that we do business with. They are better at executing; they have better resources to be able to execute,” and Home Depot has additional brands beyond the exchanges’ reach, he said.
He said Navy Exchanges, too, have struggled in the area of delivery and installation of major appliances.
So, officials began looking at finding a retailer “that can help us, where there’s a benefit to both of us.” He anticipates sales will increase with the new partnership.
“So it’s a win-win, most importantly for the patron,” he said.
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.