Friday, October 22

Selling to the military

I had a nice conversation last night with an inventor who was telling me a sales rep had approached her and told her he could sell her product into the military. She wanted to know what that actually meant – so I thought it may be a question other inventors had as well.
The “Military” is a broad term when it comes to products.  There are two sectors of the military where you can sell retail goods. “The Government” itself, where your products are purchased directly by the military services for use by the military itself – and the “Military retail system” where your products are sold to military members and their families at stores on military bases.
“The Government Itself” Purchases billions of dollars worth of consumer goods each year - from soap, toys and furniture, to tools, towels, and soccer balls – you name it, they buy it.  Using a system called “GSA Advantage” (https://www.gsaadvantage.gov/advgsa/advantage/main/start_page.do) any government agency can simply log on and purchase goods 24 hours a day. That means by getting your products into the GSA Advantage system you can sell them 24 hours a day to government agencies (City, State and Federal) all over the world. Not just military – The National Parks Service, The Federal and State Prison system, even NASA can buy your products using this system.
 “The Military Retail System” this is the place where you sell products to the millions of military personnel and their families all over the world - for their own use. Each military base has several retail outlets.
The Commissary – a full service grocery store that military members can shop in at a discount of about 20%
The Base Exchange (or Post Exchange) – a full line department store military members and their families can shop in tax free and at discounted prices.
The Four Seasons Store – a general merchandise store with furniture, appliances, auto parts, pet supplies and sporting goods
Selling products to the Base/Post Exchange and The Four Seasons retail stores is done exactly like selling to Target, or K-Mart. The Air Force and Army use a program called AAFES (http://www.shopmyexchange.com/vendors/default.asp) and the Navy uses NEXCom (https://www.mynavyexchange.com/)

Selling to the Base/Post Commissary is the same as selling to any major grocery store except the Air Force, Army, and Navy all use a government agency called DeCA  (http://www.commissaries.com/)

As you can see there are a lot of opportunities to sell products within the military system - you just have to know where to start.  As with many great inventor tips of the trade, you can get started right here on the UIA Inventor Blog.

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