Custom, ready-to-wear military medal and ribbon “racks” were introduced back into the Fort Bragg Military Clothing Sales Store’s product offering, in the form of a new, state-of-the-art, self-service touch screen computer kiosk installed on post as part of a new contract between the Army and Air Force Exchange Service and Vanguard Industries.
The bright Vanguard kiosk, located at the MCSS on Reilly Road, is actually the thirteenth in a much larger national rollout. This rollout includes placement of 27 of these kiosks at 25 installations in the continental U.S.
The machine allows customers to build virtual military medal and ribbon racks on its computer touchscreen using the popular EzRackbuilder software program. Customers enter their award information and the EzRackbuilder places all of the medals and ribbons in perfect order of precedence on its screen in addition to precisely affixing all of the attachments and devices to those awards according to the user’s branch of service regulations.
Customers can then order the ready-to-wear product with a personal credit card at a special, in-store, 10 percent discount. Orders drop ship within hours, either the same day or the next business day, direct to the customer from a West Coast production facility outside of Portland, Ore. As a promotion, Fort Bragg customers will additionally receive free shipping on all orders through June.
The new endeavor brings medal and ribbon racks back into the MCSS in a user-friendly and cost-effective way.
“Military medal and ribbon racks are one of those custom products that are basically impossible to package and put on a wall in the store,” said Michael Harrison, Vanguard Industries chief operating officer.
“Each rack is unique to that service person, like a fingerprint,” said Harrison. “They’re made to order, and those kinds of custom products are challenging to offer customers in a traditional, brick-and-mortar store setting.”
“We’re solving that issue with technology, and getting these relevant products back into the MCSS where they belong,” said Harrison.
Those products, known as “racks” – military slang for the military ribbons and medals configured and typically worn on dress uniforms above the individual’s left pocket, are highly unique.
Each rack is comprised entirely of an individual’s, campaign and unit awards, encapsulating, in a sense, each veteran’s career. For that reason, no two are alike; hence the challenge of simply carrying them in a finished state on the MCSS shelves.
Enter the EzRackbuilder, a custom-built, state-of-the-art software program designed to reduce the awards sections of all five branches of service down to a simple, user-friendly program where with just a few selections on the screen, that individual’s rack is constructed and priced for fast ordering. Finished products are delivered directly to the customer, ready to pin on their uniform.
Customers can choose any rack configuration including standard and anodized metal finishes for full size military medals and miniature medals, as well as standard ribbon racks and the so-called “thin” ribbon. Orders are instantly conveyed into the Vanguard order-fulfillment system, in partnership with USAMM, and instantly enter production.
As part of the contract, AAFES requires 100 percent of all orders to ship within 24 business hours.
The remaining kiosks are slated for installation through May with additional locations potentially added beyond the initial 25 locations in the coming months.