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Eckerd rethinks merchandising.

Largo, Fla. - The recently signed agreement between Eckerd Corp. and PIA Merchandising Co., one designed to provide 1,000 field people to service Eckerd's drug stores on a regular basis, could change both the nature and effectiveness of chain drug store merchandising and promotional activity.

Briefly, the agreement stipulates that PIA, America's oldest retail service company, put a 1,000-person field force at Eckerd's disposal. PIA's staffers will spend about 500 hours annually at each Eckerd drug store, which translates into one visit weekly to each of Eckerd's 2,700 outlets. There, they will execute new-item planogram cut-ins, implement planogram resets and supplier point-of-purchase and other promotional programs, and provide execution and continuity for Eckerd's merchandising programs.

"We view this as a breakthrough program for chain drug retailing," says Ed Kelly, Eckerd's executive vice president of merchandising and marketing. "Other drug chains use field people, but no one does so on the scale that this program will provide.

"As such, it will offer a variety of benefits for both our suppliers and ourselves, the most important of which, from a supplier viewpoint, will be the ability to implement new-item cut-ins and refresh our planograms more often than has been either practical or possible in the past."

The PIA field force will be able to implement supplier point-of-sale programs and promotions more efficiently than either the retailer's people or supplier representatives have been able to, according to Eckerd director of merchandise services Mark Steiner, the staff member who was most closely involved in assembling the PIA program.

"We believe this field force will enable us to implement supplier programs efficiently, effectively and expediently," he notes. "We further believe we can achieve 98% implementation of any program, including planogram cut-ins, at our 2,700 stores within a two-week period."

Seventy percent of PIA's field force will be full-time employees who will work exclusively for Eckerd.

"With the coordination of our in-store service program, we believe money spent on merchandising programs will yield much higher sales productivity," says Steiner, "given the fact that supplier programs will be more efficiently implemented than formerly possible, and that the suppliers will be able to reduce the costs associated with putting their own people in our stores."

If suppliers ultimately agree, the PIA program could well signal the start of a new way of updating chain drug merchandise and promotional programs - and provide another boost to the font-end business chain drug retailing is trying so diligently to revive.

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Title Annotation:signs new marketing agreement with PIA Merchandising Company Inc.
Publication:Chain Drug Review
Date:Apr 28, 1997
Words:411
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