Equipping an Army - Salvation Army Canada

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    Equipping an Army

    Through its two stores and website, supplies and purchasing provides essential clothing, music and books for spiritual enrichment and ministry October 28, 2011 by Julia Hosking
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    Feature
    Our vision in the supplies and purchasing store is to be a leading provider of Christian and Salvation Army resources for personal and ministry use,” says Major Mike LeBlanc, supplies and purchasing secretary, THQ. “We want to offer quality products and the best service and shopping experience possible in an effort to help Salvationists grow in their faith and equip them for ministry.”

    Following the results of a customer satisfaction survey, taken in January, major changes have been implemented this fall at two supplies and purchasing stores located in Toronto and St. John's, N.L., as well as online at SalvationArmy.ca/store.

    “Ninety-five percent of survey respondents thought the quality of goods in our stores is average or better,” says Major LeBlanc, “but, almost 60 percent asked us for lower prices and a larger selection.”

    In response to the feedback, partnerships have been formed, new vendors have been sourced and innovative methods of distribution are being considered.

    “For example, while it has always been the department's desire to provide a low-cost uniform option, The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda does not have a large enough market to make this possible,” says Major LeBlanc. “We've been able to strengthen our partnerships with the four Salvation Army territories in the United States to maximize our overall buying power and, in turn, reduce costs and increase selection.”

    As well as introducing several new uniform items, the ready-to-wear uniform is currently being updated and improved with minor tweaks to the design—such as subtle adjustments to the collar—and issues of quality and material are being examined.

    In an effort to increase its product range, supplies and purchasing has added novelty items such as Army-branded soft footballs and hacky sacks, Christian T-shirts, junior soldier and young people's music clothing lines and a range of promotional items containing the Salvation Army logo and slogan, “Giving Hope Today.”

    New Initiatives to Serve You
    “The supplies and purchasing department is expected to cover its own operating costs through the sale of the items it offers,” says Major LeBlanc. “We also understand the need to be ethically competitive and provide goods at the lowest prices possible. Some prices have already been reduced and many new items coming out over the next few months will have dramatically reduced costs.

    “Part of this process includes exploring initiatives that will allow us to sell e-books on our website, print-on-demand sheet music and digital music downloads. We are also finding ways to distribute books at a reduced cost, such as printing locally as needed.”

    Because supplies and purchasing has only two physical locations, the website, which is undergoing updates, is a large part of the store's reach to the remainder of the territory.

    “Online, people will be able to read reviews and sample tracks before buying books or CDs and purchase ministry supplies and Christian giftware,” explains Major LeBlanc. “While we also sell uniforms and apparel online, people often like to try on the clothes, so we are actively investigating options that will enable us to expand our presence across the territory in a cost-effective manner that keeps us on budget.”

    Jaret Voce, supplies and purchasing marketing associate and webmaster, adds that the website will become easier to navigate and more intuitive to customers' needs. “Our search capabilities will be improved and customers will be able to see stock availability when making their selections,” he says. “We will also add a feature where customers can opt to receive personalized information on products of their interest, such as the latest releases from certain authors or artists.”

    Major LeBlanc acknowledges that one of the criticisms of the store has been insufficient stock. More accurate methods of inventory are being adopted and more reliable vendors are being sought, all with the aim of having the top 80 percent of products in stock, especially core items related to uniforms.

    “The supplies and purchasing department wants to be relevant to our ever-changing Army,” says Colin Gillis, supplies and purchasing shipping-receiving supervisor. “That means striving to always have the right supplies on hand to meet the merchandise needs those in the field have for their ministry operations.”

    “Supplies and purchasing is not just about uniforms and Salvation Army music, though that will always be an important part of us,” adds Major LeBlanc. “We are here to serve and resource the territory, and ultimately help people on their personal faith journeys with Christ.”



    New Cards


    Gift card: Customers will be able to purchase gift cards that can be mailed around the territory and redeemed in store and online.
    Loyalty card: The loyalty program (name was yet to be released when Salvationist went to print) will see customers earning points for the dollars they spend. The amount of points earned depends on the product at time of purchase as there will be regular promotions. Once a minimum level of points has been accumulated, they can be converted for credit on purchases.

    Comment

    On Wednesday, July 23, 2014, Cpt Milfred W.A.. Harper fire chap said:

    I would buy more goods from trade if it was a bit cheaper.Only working part time at Timmie rest

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