MSOS OFFER VALUABLE SOLUTION

NARMS [National Association for Retail Merchandising Services] members read closely and with great interest SN's feature on retail execution ["Redefining Roles," Oct. 22, 2001, Page 12]. The article did a good job of outlining the quandary sales and marketing agencies face with respect to maintaining effective store conditions. on becomes how to complete this important work in an efficient and productive

NARMS [National Association for Retail Merchandising Services] members read closely and with great interest SN's feature on retail execution ["Redefining Roles," Oct. 22, 2001, Page 12]. The article did a good job of outlining the quandary sales and marketing agencies face with respect to maintaining effective store conditions.

on becomes how to complete this important work in an efficient and productive manner?

Our membership is comprised of sales and marketing agencies, manufacturers and independent MSOs that perform a variety of in-market merchandising and marketing services. These include, but are not limited to, new item placement, planogram implementation and maintenance, point-of-purchase compliance, mystery shopping, product demonstrations, fixture installation and field event marketing.

In many instances retailers are retaining MSOs directly to perform tasks such as scheduled resets and merchandising of new or remodeled stores. The fees for such work are then billed back to the manufacturer on a "fair share" basis.

As your article observes, there is need for vigorous discussion about how to calculate a "fair share" in this context, but there is little argument about the need for a change from the status quo. All should keep their eye on the real prize -- a model that optimizes performance at the lowest reasonable cost.

Manufacturers and retailers should address the question of who will fund this important activity and resolve it from valued base consideration and not as an expense control measure. Success at the shelf is too important to be viewed any other way.

Gary Ebben

President, NARMS

Clover, Wis.