By  on December 29, 2000

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Universal fixturing is paying off for Eckerd Corporation.

The chain is reporting higher beauty sales in a store that has been set up with internally created displays for pegged cosmetics in comparison to its other local stores, according to Kathy Steirly, vice president of beauty merchandising. The store also sports Eckerd's exclusive Mira cosmetics line and a fresh approach to hair care merchandising.

"We like the concept of universal fixturing," said Steirly during a tour of the store, which is a model for the universal fixtures the chain will begin rolling out in January. Eckerd joins Wal-Mart and Target Stores as retailers opting to create their own displays rather than depend on those produced by leading manufacturers.

What makes the fixturing attractive, Steirly said, is that areas can be reset easily, parts can be obtained without a wait and the shopping environment is enhanced.

Steirly admitted that some vendors have been disappointed with their presentation, but that most are working on partnerships with the chain to make both parties happy. L'Oreal, for example, had already added signage and color chips to its footage to make its colors easier to spot. Manufacturers traditionally spend millions on displays designed to lock retailers into a certain number of stockkeeping units. The generic fixturing, developed in conjunction with Advertising Display Co. of Lyndhurst, N.J., shifts control from supplier to retailer. However, Steirly is encouraging manufacturers to introduce ideas to incorporate their own graphics into the fixture.

Eckerd has gone with universal signage and graphics across the top of the fixture -- giving beauty a unified look versus a mixture of suppliers' graphics. The display is topped off with half-moon silver blocks bearing the brand name that is housed in each area. Some manufacturer footage has been snipped, including space from Revlon and Procter & Gamble's Olay, to allow for the new look. The additional space has yielded a home for Mira, more footage for Physicians Formula and room for plastic, movable displays to showcase hot new products. Steirly said the modules could be easily moved throughout the entire department to feature new lines. The entire fixture is illuminated -- a major feat for a mass market store.

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