August 24, 2005, 12:00 AM

How better cross promotion drives web sales at Army & Air Force Exchange

A redesigned e-commerce site includes new page templates that help AAFES cross sell its online inventory of nearly 70,000 SKUs. AAFES modified its product page templates to include more detailed product data and a greater assortment of related items.

Army & Air Force Exchange Service, the organization that supplies and operates the U.S. military’s PX system, is counting on a newly redesigned web site and more merchandise to drive e-commerce sales in the final months of 2005.

The new web site, which AAFES, No. 60 in the Internet Retailer Top 400 Guide to Retail Web Sites, began rolling out in November and completed in late July, features bigger graphics, expanded search and a more prominent store locater button.

The new site also includes better ways for AAFES to cross sell its online inventory of nearly 70,000 SKUs. For instance, AAFES modified its product page templates to include more detailed product information and a greater assortment of related merchandise. AAFES also reduced the time shoppers need to execute a product search and built in 36 new promotional areas across the site where it can promote and market specific items, offers and brands by category.

In one instance the ability to better cross-sell merchandise in a particular category helped to increase the sale of graduation-related merchandise by more than 61%. “We used these promotional spaces across the site to highlight life events such as weddings and graduations,” says Angela Terry, vice president of direct marketing. “We created a large presence this year for graduation using those spots and experienced a 61% lift in sales over the prior year.”

Though AAFES sells to what some analysts see as a captive audience-members of the military and their dependents-other discount retailers are targeting the same audience.

AAFES also is adding new lines of merchandise such as home décor, jewelry and consumer electronics to its web store and expanding the number of outside merchants with storefronts on AAFES’ interactive shopping mall to more than 40. “Over the past year, the focus has on building assortments that offer excellent value and drive a four-tier pricing strategy,” Terry says. “The goal is to offer military customers the best value for their dollar regardless of the price point.”

AAFES, which operates a network of 161 post exchanges, or PXes, and 15 different catalogs, expects its e-commerce sales to grow by between 15% and 25% in 2005.

 

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