Australian Newsagency Blog

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

Newspaper covers up page one story

Mark Fletcher on December 22, 2014 8:11 AM

IMG_1141What’s the point of the story on page one of the Herald Sun? Looking at the cover it’s hard to tell since News Corp. covered the report with an ad for streaming service Quickflix. This from the same company that complains about how their product is displayed in newsagencies. Nuts.

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→ 2 CommentsCategory: newspaper masthead desecration · Newspapers

The things customers say: My mum is an idiot

Mark Fletcher on December 22, 2014 6:13 AM

mumidiotIn the newsagency on Saturday a guy in his early thirties was speaking into a Chatter Santa saying over and over my Mum is an idiot. Chatter Santa was repeating it back to him, over and over.

I heard this from behind me and looked around to see what’s what. His mum was standing next to him rolling her eyes.

You see and hear some crazy things in retail – especially at Christmas. 3 days to go.

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→ 1 CommentCategory: retail

Too many newsagency suppliers are closed already

Mark Fletcher on December 22, 2014 6:08 AM

It is disappointing that in this week of busy trade for many newsagents, plenty of our suppliers are already fully closed for Christmas – with most that are closed not reopening until January 5.

Given the tough and competitive marketplace of today, suppliers that are closed should not be surprised if newsagent customers find others who can supply this time of the year and beyond.

While I appreciate suppliers will close when trade is the quietest for them, they should at the very least have a process in place for handling urgent orders. A sale is a sale after all. Too many that are closed already have not done time.

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→ 11 CommentsCategory: Newsagency management

Magazine publishers abuse delayed billing and fail newsagents

Mark Fletcher on December 22, 2014 6:03 AM

spaceModern Wedding is another magazine sent to newsagents to warehouse for an uneconomically viable on-sale period. It’s a thick title, we can only store two per pocket. In newsagencies without a back room, Modern Wedding takes up retail space that is costing as much as $9.00 per month per pocket to rent. Leaving Modern Wedding in the magazine pockets makes it a loss making title for shopping centre newsagents.

I suspect the publisher thinks that by providing this title on a delayed billing basis they are helping us. Delayed billing is no help at all.

Yesterday, I sent back half our stock of Modern Wedding because of the pocket cost and because it will not sell quickly enough to pay its way.

The publisher will complain that they cannot afford multiple drops based on sales through the on-sale. That is not my problem. That they send everything at once is unfair and something I tolerate less today than a year ago.

The MPA supply trial to test the draft code of conduct requires participating newsagents to not early return. That alone is enough to block newsagents participating.

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→ No CommentsCategory: Magazine oversupply · magazines

Some magazines make excellent Christmas gifts

Mark Fletcher on December 22, 2014 6:00 AM

magsxmasSweet is one of those magazines that  an get lost in the sea of titles we have in our magazine department. Whenever I see it I place it at the front of the fixture so the full cover is on show. This premium placement is even more important at Christmas as shoppers search the magazine department for gifts for family and friends. Food titles are especially popular and Sweet is a title we often recommend because of its uniqueness and quality – it’s a title through which we can show off our point of difference.

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→ 1 CommentCategory: magazines

Sunday newsagency management tip: don’t discount before you need to

Mark Fletcher on December 21, 2014 6:32 AM

xmasdiscountA card shop near my newsagency yesterday had Hallmark boxed Christmas cards at 50% off. They are the only shop of seven or eight in the shopping centre with Hallmark cards boxed Christmas cards discounted. Others with discounted Christmas cards are the $2 and similar shops with unbranded product.

We will not discount Christmas cards until Boxing Day. Sales are strong – I see no reason in our numbers to discount.

Either our competitor is not moving as many boxed Christmas cards as they expected or need or they have made a rookie move and discounted unnecessarily. These last five days before Christmas will see last-minute shoppers out in force. These last-minute shoppers are usually less discerning and prepared to pay more.

In my eighteen years owning and running newsagencies I have never seen the need to discount Christmas cards including boxed Christmas cards prior to Christmas.

This is my advice today – discount when the time is right and not a moment before. Look at your data and only discount if such a move is supported by your data.

Oh, and if you are gong to make a move on price, take a moment to consider that raising your price could be the better move. While this is not appropriate to boxed Christmas cards, it could be true for many gift lines.

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→ No CommentsCategory: Management tip · Newsagency challenges · Newsagency management · Newsagency opportunities · retail

Sunday newsagency marketing tip: join online groups and be part of the conversation

Mark Fletcher on December 21, 2014 6:16 AM

nerdsWhile many newsagents are in Rotary, Lions or similar local community groups, few are in other groups that are equally important in networking, groups like online groups serving special interests. Such groups often don’t operate to a geographic boundary – and that’s okay … especially if the group is about something in which you are interested and with which you have a business connection.

Take Minecraft, a video game with an excellent pedigree and a devoted fan base. There are many online where you could participate if it was a game you were into. Subtly, through such engagement, you could promote Minecraft products – especially if you delve deeply into the collectible items and have some hard to get items.

Participating in online groups needs to be navigated carefully as you don’t want to come across as being there for commercial purposes only. Some groups have rules against members being commercial – check first.

Just being in such a group can be enlightening about product categories and licences. Members can be your mentors through their posts and take you deeper into the world of the those you may seek to serve.

Don’t be put off by not having time. Joining and reading what’s being discussed every so often can put you well ahead of competitors who do not try and get into the world of the customers they serve.

The more you know about your customers the better you can serve them.

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→ No CommentsCategory: marketing · newsagency marketing

If you still have Dolly in stock

Mark Fletcher on December 20, 2014 4:22 PM

1ddolThe five pockets allocated to the dive different covers of Dolly had not worked. We sold one copy in a week – making the space allocation uneconomic. But before I reduced the space allocation I checked online and found that the Niall cover was in short supply. A couple of social media engagements later and two copies were sold and more 1D fans were talking about my shop. Sure it took a bit of time but, hey, I sold two more copies of the magazine and found some new customers along the way.

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→ No CommentsCategory: magazines · marketing · newsagency marketing

Geelong Coast magazine supports newsagents

Mark Fletcher on December 20, 2014 4:08 PM

Screen Shot 2014-12-20 at 4.05.09 pmIt’s good to see Geelong Coast magazine using Twitter to promote its latest issue as being available at newsagencies. I like this because they are only promoting our channel and because this is a special interest title. Special interest titles are vitally important to us, especially titles like Geelong Coast targeting a specific geographic area.

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Finding shopping lists: getting to see what shoppers are looking for

Mark Fletcher on December 20, 2014 6:31 AM

shoplist1I found this shopping list note on the shop floor the other day and loved the opportunity to see what one shopper was looking for and where they are looking.

Take a look under Gift Shops. We have an excellent range of coffee mugs and plenty of teacher things.

I didn’t see who dropped the note. I don’t know if they purchased from us – however, the note was onear our mugs.

shoplist2There was a second note, folded with the first, for what they were to look for in Target and Chemist Warehouse.

From Target, this shopper was looking for calendars, Forever Friends products, Top Gear / car products and a large cup for dad. We can help with each of these. I don’t know if we did.

I am fascinated by the groupings on the lists by shop. It reveals how some people shop as well as the challenge of attracting shoppers to shop on impulse with us as we were not on their list, not obviously at least. It also reinforces the importance of marketing the business by purchase destination.

We have to think about what pulls people into our businesses. This time of year, cards are an obvious choice. If we have an excellent range of Christmas cards at the front of the shop that could be the lure. It’s what a card shopper attracted to the business notices next which matters. There needs to be a second lure for when then are finished shopping the Christmas card display.

The same is true if they step into a newsagency because of the better magazine range … whet else is pitched to that shopper, what is done to gets them shopping the shop?

Every destination needs to have another opportunity nearby. Each opportunity encourages shoppers to break away from their plan, to move away for their shopping list.

The two lists I picked up from the shop floor this week reminded me of the challenges and opportunities we have in our newsagencies as we leverage existing excellent traffic and evolve into retail businesses of the future. It also reminded me of the value of talking more to shoppers to learn what they are looking for.

I would love to be able to read the lists of every shopper in our shopping centre who has one. I appreciate it is impractical … but it would be fascinating, educational and inspiring.

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Selling out of Bethlehem at Christmas

Mark Fletcher on December 20, 2014 6:22 AM

bethlehemWe have had a soap called Bethlehem as part of our gift soap offer for Christmas. We have sold double what we expected to sell and could have sold plenty more. Customers love the name but the scent, the look of the soap and the presentation as a gift.

The Bethlehem soap has worked in many situations where people are not sure what to give to a friend, neighbour, teacher, doctor, priest – it’s been a go to item for us in gift selection help.

The experience reinforces the value of trying again. We have offered soap previously without this level of result. This time, we have found a product that works perfectly for us in terms of customer love, return on floor space and return on inventory investment.

Based on our first experience I thought we could not sell soap. Of course – not all soaps are the same. This range works a treat and I am glad we have it to ourselves in our centre. It is generating good traffic for us as word of mouth spreads.

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→ No CommentsCategory: Gifts

Get The Australian for $1 for a month with PayPal

Mark Fletcher on December 19, 2014 12:18 PM

Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 11.47.59 amNews Corp. is promoting a 28 day digital subscription to The Australian through PayPal in an email campaign that hit this morning. At the end of $28 days the subscription flips to $6 a week – a big jump.

What’s interesting about this campaign is that it has been promoted by PayPal via email as a last minute Christmas gift. $1 is not much of a gift. I’d be interested in the drop-off at the end of 28 days.

That there is no paper component of the offer is interesting too.

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→ 10 CommentsCategory: Newspapers

Warning: Microsoft will not call you and log into your computer

Mark Fletcher on December 19, 2014 8:18 AM

Microsoft, or any major IT company for that matter, will not call you out of the blue and ask to log into your computer. If you let the caller in you will be hacked and the implications for your business could be considerable.

Be suspicious, very suspicious, of anyone who calls to ask to log into your computer. 

One newsagent was hit yesterday and they have been compromised as a result.

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US magazine launches and closures

Mark Fletcher on December 19, 2014 7:37 AM

Huffington Post reports on US magazine launches and closures in 2014. Most interesting in the report is growth in regional titles.  here in Australia, while I don’t have the data, I’d say 2014 was a  good year for niche title launches and growth.

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Matthew dumped: making up stories about abandoned products

Mark Fletcher on December 19, 2014 6:02 AM

matthewWe all see it in our shops, the product left abandoned far away from its usual location. Usually, it is a common product, nothing particularly noticeable. Sometimes, it is a personal product – and I wonder whether there is a back story to it being abandoned.

On the weekend I found a personalised Christmas bauble, for Matthew, shoved in with our men’s health and fitness magazines. I got to thinking about why Matthew was abandoned: had he been naughty and this was punishment, had the customer found something else to spend money on, had Matthew brought it down to a parent to show them?

While the future of the newsagency does not hinge on answers to these and other questions, I enjoy letting my mind wander when I see things like this. It personalises what goes on in the shop and is a factor in how I look at my time in the business.

In many ways, many times a day, people’s lives are touched – in good and bad ways , happy and sad ways – by experiences in our businesses. Thinking about this helps our connection with our own businesses. the thoughts personalise our connections with our businesses.

While I will never know the real back story of the abandoned Matthew Christmas bauble, it’s been good to think about it.

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Socks in the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on December 19, 2014 5:59 AM

sockssellingSales of socks have been excellent for us since we put the stand in a few weeks ago. Initial stock sold, we reordered and it is selling too.

I’m sure most people purchasing the socks did not come into the newsagency with this in mind. The success is an example of the value of a diversified yet thoughtfully selected mix of products placed tactically on the shop floor.

Just having the socks is not enough. They need to be in the best location – and that is not necessarily the busiest location.

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→ No CommentsCategory: Gifts

Hats in the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on December 19, 2014 5:56 AM

hatsWe sold most of the hats off our hat stand in a few weeks and replenished from another store. Once they sell we’ll quit hats – because of space challenges more than anything else. That said, we’re thrilled with the results … especially that we did not expect them to sell as ell as they have.

The experience with the hats is a reminder to not allow our prejudices or blinkered view get in the way of good margin revenue for the newsagency.

this Christmas we are playing with many different product categories, exploring how far we could go into allied and completely different areas. It’s fun and rewarding.

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Leveraging the Paddington movie in the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on December 19, 2014 5:51 AM

paddingtonWe have a good selection of Paddington Bear merchandise in store to leverage the new movie. While it will not be a Frozen, we are hopeful that the small selection of Paddington product we have sourced will be worthwhile.

With many families and grandparents shopping in the centre we’re confident we made a good call with this product mix.

Licenced product is important for newsagents expanding their appeal.

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Petty theft in the cafe

Mark Fletcher on December 18, 2014 3:33 PM

stolenI love this sign I saw in my local coffee shop today. It reminded me that petty theft is everywhere, not just in the newsagency where I see it regularly as people help themselves to items. I like the direct communication on the sign by the frustrated cafe owner.

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Time Out Sydney in Melbourne

Mark Fletcher on December 18, 2014 1:34 PM

tosydWe don’t have room for Time Out Sydney. had we been asked if we wanted the title ewe would have declined. Instead, we’ve brought it in, unpacked it, processed it and then returned it. As newsagents become more angry magazine publishers will see an increase in early returns.

In case you are unsure about newsagent anger – it is fuelled by being held accountable for indebtedness with insufficient control over this.

MAGAZINE PUBLISHERS AND DISTRIBUTORS: FYI, it’s 2015. Technology is advanced. We ought to have control over title range and volume in our businesses. Give us this and we become accountable for indebtedness and we have a reason to look at magazines as more than what they have become because of your inaction.

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→ 17 CommentsCategory: magazine distribution · Magazine oversupply

Brilliant newsagency social media campaign from newsXpress Eli Waters

Mark Fletcher on December 18, 2014 6:11 AM

10849875_893312614026317_1066965200899235886_nThis is a Facebook post from newsXpress Eli Waters Tuesday this week putting out a challenge – seeking likes to get Allan Wickham, one of the owners, into a Mrs Claus outfit. The post generates 1,475 likes with more than 20,000 seeing the post thanks to viral sharing.

This is excellent use of Facebook – it’s fun (for most) and engaging … without being commercial. It’s the type of post that facebook as a company likes to see from businesses. Their new rules and policies for 2015 indicate they prefer this to blatant business advertising in their free posts.

10624639_893781173979461_5422717257427816872_nThis photo shows the result of the post. Allan was dressed as Mrs Claus for the day and from all accounts customers loved it. It certainly made for a different experience in the shop yesterday – probably a welcome break to what is usual at this busy Christmas time of the year.

I thought Al was going with a more risqué outfit but I suspect he decided to go conservative and protect the eyesight of his customers.

What I love about this is the business, the owners and customers all getting in on some fun.

Well done everyone involved. It has been executed well. As I said: brilliant use of Facebook.

Newsagents can learn a lot from what they have just done at newsXpress Eli Waters. The best part? It all cost nothing except, as Al told me – his dignity.

FYI newsXpress Eli Waters are the newsXpress Retailer of the Year. This facebook campaign is a small example of how they play outside the pack and why they deserve kudos.

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→ 4 CommentsCategory: marketing · marketing tip · newsagency marketing · newsagency of the future · Social Media

Checking out WH Smith Express at Adelaide airport

Mark Fletcher on December 18, 2014 6:03 AM

whsI got to check out the WH Smith Express on the forecourt of Adelaide airport yesterday. I’ve seen it previously but not had time to look inside.  This business is more a convenience than traditional newsagency. It’s a variation on what’s at Melbourne airport.

Newsagents passing through Adelaide airport should take a moment to look at the business as it reflects a consistency and professionalism WH Smith will bring to our channel as they continue to expand their footprint inside and outside the newsagency channel.

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→ 3 CommentsCategory: Newsagency challenges · Newsagency management · newsagency of the future

I like this magazine stand

Mark Fletcher on December 18, 2014 6:01 AM

tmagsI like this low-profile magazine stand at one of the news outlets on the departure level at Adelaide airport. It holds plenty of stock with full face display and allows good sight lines across the business. It’s ideal for high volume titles – like our see in these transit newsagencies.

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→ No CommentsCategory: magazines · visual merchandising

Vogue Australia gift failure

Mark Fletcher on December 18, 2014 5:59 AM

voguedamageHere’s how Vogue Australia looks after a couple of days on display. The bag holding the magazine rips easily. I have seen this in several stores. While you can still see the cover, the package looks damaged. Makes me wonder: will it hurt sales?

Publishers need to do better.

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→ 1 CommentCategory: magazines

Marie Claire top heavy

Mark Fletcher on December 18, 2014 5:56 AM

marieclairefoldHere’s how the top-heavy (with the free sunglasses) current issue of Marie Claire looked in one supermarket yesterday. Not a great ad for the magazine. In our own case we had to allocate double the space to the title to accommodate the gift. Publishers need to do better.

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→ 1 CommentCategory: magazines