Australian Newsagency Blog

A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

Magazines as a Christmas gift to drive newsagency sales

Mark Fletcher on November 27, 2015 9:18 AM

IMG_2196Magazine sales spike from now to Christmas as they are purchased as Christmas gifts. We can drive sales by calling out titles as ideal gifts. Australian Coast to Coast Country Style is one such title. This is a perfect gift for someone overseas – easily posted and showing off Australian beauty. I love the cover of this issue. Take it out of the magazine rack, place with Christmas gifts and include a handwritten bookmark pointing to it being a Christmas gift for overseas friends. Send them a bit of Australia.


→ 1 CommentCategory: magazines

Harpers Bazaar barcode issue

Mark Fletcher on November 27, 2015 6:01 AM

Network Services has advised of a barcode issue with Harpers Bazaar that needs attention at the store level:

Network recently distributed an edition of Harper’s Bazaar where the barcode that was provided in the XIT data did not match what was on the magazine.

An email communication was sent out to newsagents advising of this error and to update the barcode in their point of sale system to the barcode on the magazine cover for that product and issue code.

–       Incorrect Barcode 9313006005407 12

–       Barcode on magazine 9313006007739 12

This edition’s issue code is 1512, however we’re seeing a large number scans coming through for 1412, last year’s DEC edition. It seems that these agents have not updated the barcode “9313006007739 12” to apply to issue 1512.

If the magazine continues to scan as 1412, these agents will be scanning sales at the 1412 price which is different to the 1512. It also means that when the title is recalled it will be scanned out as 1412, and so reject in the return claim.

In the Tower newsagency software resolving this is easy. Go to Utilities, scroll to Change/Merge Barcode. Enter the old barcode in the top box (without the space). Enter the new barcode in the second box (without the space). Click modify. You;re done. Other software companies are welcome to provide advice here for newsagents.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazine distribution

Another reason to not pay there ANF $60 a month

Mark Fletcher on November 26, 2015 8:43 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 8.36.00 pmFurther to my post today looking at what newsagents could spend the $60 a month is costs to be in the ANF, consider this promotion by the ANF of Hubbed. I think the ANF promotes Hubbed because of a commercial relationship, the details of which are not disclosed.

My view is that industry associations ought not promote commercial activities. They should not play favourites because when this happens they leave themselves open to a claim of bias.

they will say they need to engage in commercial activity to fund their activities. I disagree with this. Newsagents either want an association or not. Direct funding by newsagents should be the only source of income, for the sake of transparency and trust. Such a move would make the association a genuine servant of members.

Hubbed has competitors who do not get a look in with the ANF and the various communication channels of the ANF because they are not a commercial partner of the ANF.

Criticism I make of the ANF for their selective promotion of suppliers to newsagents is seen by some here as criticism of the association. Rather, I am critical of the use of the association as a commercial activity supporting newsagent suppliers they like for reasons that are not clear and transparent.


→ 2 CommentsCategory: Newsagent representation

What $60 a month could buy your newsagency and why it matters

Mark Fletcher on November 26, 2015 5:25 AM

$60 a month does not seem like much but play it out over a year and you have $840. Why $60? This is what ANF membership costs in some states.

When a newsagent asked me recently if I thought them joining the ANF for $60 a month was worth if, I talked with them about what else they could spend the money on.

Before I get to the list, I suggest newsagents think about what they get for the $60 a month it costs to be a member of the ANF. I cannot think of any tangible benefit. For all their talk of lobbying and representation on policy – the bread and butter of a good association – the ANF does not have anything to value to point to. So the question about the value of $60 a month is important.

Smart newsagents will take the $60 a month the ANF would have cost and invest this in new traffic strategies that add  value to their business.

Here is the list of how one could spend $60 a month that I discussed recently with one newsagent:

  • Facebook advertising. $10 can put an ad in front of between 5,000 and 8,000 people depending on your location. $60 can buy plenty of new eyeballs and eyeballs drive new traffic.
  • Google advertising. At between 3 cents and ten cents a click, your website, e-com site or other online presence could achieve 2,000 clicks and more. Each click could be someone new to the business and could result in feet through the door.
  • Visual merchandising. $60 a month could buy close to two hours in-store of a visual merchandising professional on a regular call cycle. This could be someone who provides you with a fresh look in-store as well as training for your people.
  • New product lines. While funding this from the monthly saving, over the course of a year, investing $840 in a new product line fresh to the business could generate More than $1,000 in gross profit and attract new shoppers to the business who also purchase other items that make the $840 investment worth in excess of $2,000. Yes, there are specific lines that fit this criteria. So, in year two, you’d have another $840 to invest as the first year’s investment would be paying for itself.
  • Dinner outside. Have a pub meal with your business partner away from the business, to talk about business. You are certain to look at the business differently and through the conversations reveal to yourselves valuable opportunities you might have missed without such time out.

Sure I could add other items to the list. I wanted to go for ideas that helped attract new shoppers and give the business fresh appeal.

I am serious in suggesting newsagents think about alternatives for the $60 a month they pay for the ANF as $60 a month invested wisely ought to deliver between three and four times the cost to the business.

Every dollar you spend is a business decision. Think about the alternatives and consider what you could do in your business.

The $60 spend is about relevance to your business today as it is only the money you make from the business today that matters.


→ 8 CommentsCategory: Newsagency management · newsagency marketing · newsagency of the future · Newsagency opportunities · Newsagent representation

Crappy plush display disrespects product

Mark Fletcher on November 26, 2015 5:20 AM

IMG_2170 (1)This photo shows a display of plush items in a c-store I visited earlier this week. The premium plush items are promoted between a couple of food fridges. There is no respect for the product, no story being told. It is a poor quality display from a poor quality retailer.

Everything a retailer stocks deserves to be displayed professionally and respectfully. Premium items, like these are, deserve better. Independent convenience stores have some of the worst displays I have seen. It is good to see local newsagents often doing better.


→ 1 CommentCategory: visual merchandising

Newspaper publishers snipe at each other when they ought to focus on their customers

Mark Fletcher on November 25, 2015 2:35 PM

IMG_2174 (1)News and Fairfax are sniping about layoffs at their competitors. With print copy sales continuing to decline and ad revenue down it is only natural the publishers want to cut costs.

Publishers ought to focus on creating more compelling products for today’s marketplace. With editorial roles at the heart of what publishers create, retaining and hiring good and important voices ought to be a core goal.

I want a newspaper I can enjoy for more than the 2 or 3 minutes I give many I pick up to read today.


→ 1 CommentCategory: Newspaper distribution · newspaper home delivery · Newspapers

Help for employees who want to steal from the retail business where they work

Mark Fletcher on November 25, 2015 6:38 AM

One part of my work with newsagents if dislike is dealing with employee theft situations. Too often a newsagent has come to me after they have discovered theft, having ignored advice on how to protect against this.

Last week we shot this video at the office to try and grab attention in a different way. Please watch it. The sole goal of the video is to get newsagents and other retailers engaged to manage against theft.


→ 1 CommentCategory: Management tip · Newsagency management · theft

Terrific teacher gift promotion in the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on November 25, 2015 6:23 AM

IMG_2159I love this display of teacher gifts at the counter of a newsagency in Cairns I visited on Monday. I love the mix, the placement and the layout. I also love the circular nature of the display as it makes shopping the display easy.

Teacher gift giving season is an opportunity for newsagents to own more so than other retailers. Doing this starts with a terrific range of products tactically displayed as in the case in this Cairns business.


→ No CommentsCategory: Gifts

How a retailer had their business ‘stolen’ from them by a franchise promoter who said they can get a better lease deal

Mark Fletcher on November 24, 2015 5:59 AM

I was contacted a few weeks ago by a retail business owner who wanted to tell their story about how they had their business “stolen” from them.

Their lease was close to being up and the head of a franchise group happened to walk in one day for a chat about business. Thinking he was talking to a colleague, the retailer shared information about the lease and issues he was having in negotiating with the landlord. The conversation ended with no help sought and no offer made.

A couple of weeks later, the retailer was visited by the same person again and told that if he wanted to keep his business he would have to join the franchise group as they had negotiated a head lease for the premises and that trading as part of the franchise was a requirement.

The retailer was given an ultimatum: walk away from the business they had owned for years or join the franchise group. He saw it as no choice as the business was his main asset. He joined the franchise group.

His experience in the franchise group was awful, business went downhill. Product arrived in-store that he had not ordered and was unable to return. He was visited and told to do things in the business he did not want to do. He was forced to pay hefty fees he had not had to pay when he operated independently.

The business went downhill and the retailer eventually sold for a lower than reasonable price. He felt he had no choice but to accept the low offer because the franchise agreement had conditions relating to the sale that made it challenging for him to sell outside the group.

The retailer concedes his naiveté and wishes he had engaged a lawyer immediately on hearing of a lease deal to effectively steal the business from him.

This is the story as told to me. While I am not a lawyer, I suspect the actions of the franchise operator and the landlord were illegal and that the retailer could have taken action. But he was broken and was happy to get out.

This is a cautionary tale.

  • Never share lease information unless you are 100% certain of the person involved.
  • Never take on a business where someone else holds the head lease as this gives them power over you.
  • Never join a franchise when you feel you have been coerced, pressured or threatened to do so.
  • If you have been wronged, be prepared to fight at the earliest opportunity to right the wrong.

Industry associations representing retailers ought play a role in monitoring and protecting retailers in this area. When they take money from any franchise group and promote them in journals and elsewhere they offer tacit endorsement. It is incumbent upon them to ensure they understand the values and processes of any such business they endorse in this way.

Yes this story is vague. The franchise group I am writing about is litigious.


→ 2 CommentsCategory: Ethics · Newsagency challenges · Newsagency management · retail · retail leases · Retail tenancy · Social responsibility

Tatts promoting its app on Facebook

Mark Fletcher on November 23, 2015 5:00 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 4.56.59 pmIn Brisbane this morning in my Facebook feed was this ad for Tatts, for their app. The presence of the ad is a reminder of the investment by the company in promoting online. The comments on the post, and there are plenty, are a reminder of the popularity of Tatts and that punters like online and the Tatts app.

The biggest point I want to make about the app, however, is that it is not reflective of the corporate image newsagents are forced to invest in.

If I was a Tatts agent I’d want to know why the company forces me to invest in their corporate image when they do not themselves. It challenges their case to me on investing in their image.


→ 6 CommentsCategory: Lotteries

Are you a gunna when it comes to managing your newsagency?

Mark Fletcher on November 23, 2015 5:23 AM

I’m gunna redo the stationery department, move it to a better location and get rid of the stuff that’s been there for more than a couple of years.

This is what a newsagent told me earlier this year. Gunna is the key word in the statement. Gunnas are the people who are always gunna yet often never get down to actually doing what they are gunna do.

Actions speak louder than words for sure and gunnas, in my experience have plenty of words.

What is it in your newsagency you are gunna do and probably have been gunna do for years that you have not actually done?

If you are a gunna there is only one thing to do: do it.

Sure you might come up with barriers. If they are real, at least stock talking about what you are gunna do and work on the barriers. If the barriers are not real, what are you waiting for?

The gunna newsagents I worry for are those who rely on traditional newsagency lines for more than 50% of their traffic, the businesses doing nothing to attract new shoppers to the business. Being a gunna in these situations is no future.

Footnote: If this post makes you angry, think about why. If it is because it is about you there is only one thing to do. If you think I should not shine a light on the gunna newsagents, realise it is for their good and for the good of others trading under the shingle.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency challenges · Newsagency management · newsagency of the future · Newsagency opportunities

Pitching the magazine point of difference in the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on November 23, 2015 5:19 AM

IMG_2136When deciding which magazine titles to give the full face display treatment to in special interest / fringe sections of the magazine department in the newsagency, we absolutely to preference magazines not sold in supermarkets – as shown in the photo.

While we cannot always be sure, just thinking about this sees us make choices that support us as magazine specialists and the publishers who support us.

Being conscious about this is being conscious about leveraging a point of difference in our magazine offer compared to the magazine department in a supermarket.

Here is another example from the weekend in part of our car section:



→ No CommentsCategory: magazines

Newspaper oversupply in Brisbane?

Mark Fletcher on November 22, 2015 9:11 PM

IMG_2155Further to my post about a promotion offering free copies of the Courier Mail and other newspapers at a Night Owl Convenience store in Brisbane, check out the stack of newspapers I saw at this store just now – at 8pm Sunday night. That’s a lot of unsold newspapers.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newspaper distribution · Newspaper marketing · Newspapers

Sunday newsagency challenge: don’t follow tradition

Mark Fletcher on November 22, 2015 6:24 AM

IMG_1644What Christmas ornaments have you ordered to sell this Christmas? Are they the usual tinsel, angels and of Christmas colours? If so, you are competing in a crowded ocean. This owl is one of the ornaments we are selling and which customers are noticing because they are different – and people love that, especially if the ornament is to be a gift.

Challenge yourself with buying: avoid tradition and attract new shoppers.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency challenges · Newsagency management · newsagency marketing

Sunday newsagency marketing tip: improvise and get noticed

Mark Fletcher on November 22, 2015 6:16 AM

IMG_2079At a concert at the Palais Theatre in Melbourne Friday night, down in the middle of the theatre during intermission, I noticed a bright bottle of water bobbing above the heads of the crowd. It was a beacon in this venue packed with close to 3,000 people on the night. It aught my attention and I had to go see what looked like magic up close.

On approaching the bottle of water, I could see the person holding it up high had a torch on and facing upward into the bottle – providing the beacon effect. This was a perfect way for the water to be noticed from a distance, for the theatre management to drive water sales inside the theatre in interval, a perfect marketing initiative.

Often when it comes to marketing we look for complex solutions to simple challenges. In this case, theatre management placed the pitch in the right location and used a low-tech approach to ensure it was noticed.

My marketing tim for retail newsagents today is to look for simple, low-tech, ways to promote products from your business in-store and outside.

A secondary time from this experience is to create marketing for the curious, so they will go see up close and, maybe, consider a purchase.


→ No CommentsCategory: marketing tip · newsagency marketing

Sunday newsagency management advice: compare revenue by supplier

Mark Fletcher on November 22, 2015 6:14 AM

If your newsagency software allows it, next time you are reporting on business performance select a supplier comparison view. This can highlight strengths and weaknesses a more traditional view of business performance make be hiding from you.

Take your gift department, the traditional analysis will be to look at sales by product category or occasion. Switching to a supplier view could bring to your attention a supplier level relationship that is not working for your business.

I did this recently for a newsagency as part of a business review. Two suppliers are not delivering results for the business and this was being missed as gifts overall are up more than 25% year on year whereas for these two suppliers, sales were only up 5%.

Sometimes, changing a data view can valuably alter your view of your business.


→ No CommentsCategory: Management tip · Newsagency management

My input for the next Fairfax over the counter newspaper sales discussion

Mark Fletcher on November 21, 2015 1:39 PM

Anyone attending the next meeting internally at Fairfax where they are discussing the decline in single copy sales, present this photo. While News Corp. is relying on news to drive impulse purchase Fairfax has sold the front page as an ad billboard. Sure the ad may make more money today, does it hinder newspaper sales?




→ 2 CommentsCategory: Newspapers

Occasion gifts work with cards in the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on November 21, 2015 6:33 AM

IMG_2047For years I have included a targeted occasion-focussed gift offer with cards in my newsagencies. The actual occasion gifts pitched vary over time with seasons. The range also can vary based on card location and placement changes.

The placement of gifts here in the card department, as you can see in this photo I took yesterday – works as it breaks the sea of colour in cards and also invites shoppers to contemplate a gift purchase with the card.

Cards generate excellent traffic for us and it is important we leverage this with occasion appropriate cards placed to leverage that traffic. One way to do this is to allow room in your card space allocation to achieve the impulse add-on purchase.

Of course, this is different to the front of store work using gifts as their own net new traffic driver – that is a separate strategy.


→ No CommentsCategory: Gifts

Independence Studios product in Target?

Mark Fletcher on November 21, 2015 6:29 AM

IMG_2004Newsagents who have been bi supporters of Independence Studios will do a double take at this range of product now available in target stores in Australia. While the packaging is different, the products look to be exactly the same as items we sell in the candy-lane.


→ No CommentsCategory: Competition

The Courier mail is free in Brisbane if you spend $5 or more at Night Owl Convenience

Mark Fletcher on November 21, 2015 6:28 AM

I don;t get why suppliers of everyday items engage in pricing deals like this as it drives pricing expectations and drives channel churn and no one wins from this.


This is the deal I saw this week in Brisbane CBD, 50 metres from a newsagency.


→ 1 CommentCategory: Newspapers

The view inside the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on November 20, 2015 1:19 PM

Further to recent photos I have shared showing the front of the newsagency pitching Christmas, here is a photo three metres in from the front of the shop.

At this point in the shop there are two main aisles, to the left and to the right of what you can see. The product placement is such that products are pitched to people entering and leaving. The product choice for placement here is deliberately not traditional for a newsagency as this location can be seen from the mall, outside the newsagency itself.



→ No CommentsCategory: Newsagency management · newsagency marketing

Stunning Carrie Bickmore Women’s Weekly cover should drive sales

Mark Fletcher on November 20, 2015 6:07 AM

IMG_2026I love the cover of the latest Woman’s Weekly. The Carrie Bickmore photo will appeal to a younger reader and this should help drive sales. It looks terrific.

Unlike other newsagents I have spoken with, we were not overloaded with stock for this issue of Woman’s Weekly.

We have the magazine in two locations to drive impulse purchases including at the counter.


→ 5 CommentsCategory: magazines

Gluten free gingerbread in the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on November 20, 2015 6:04 AM

IMG_2013The latest issue of Australian Healthy Food is one to feature thanks to the gluten free gingerbread man bagged with the magazine. It is a perfect gift for the season and for the magazine. We are making the most of the tasty gluten free opportunity – promoting it in-store and online on our business Facebook page.


→ 1 CommentCategory: magazines

Leveraging the timely Who cover

Mark Fletcher on November 20, 2015 6:00 AM

IMG_2024We have the full cover of Who on show to make the most of the extraordinary coverage of the Charlie Sheen HIV diagnosis story. While there are concerning alarmist aspects to the story, media coverage is driving interest and selling magazines is important to us.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazines

Breaking our own early returning of magazines rule

Mark Fletcher on November 20, 2015 5:57 AM

IMG_2014I early returned The Australian Women’s Weekly Relax With Colour yesterday as there is no spare room and we are full with adult colouring titles from which we make 50% and more. I am not about to take space from them for a title from which we make half the reasonable gross profit.

Had Bauer asked, we would have said no thanks. Instead, we early returned the lot and broke a rule we have to not early return the day of issue.


→ 4 CommentsCategory: Magazine oversupply · magazines