Australian Newsagency Blog

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

QLD newsagents ought to consider Lottery Agents Queensland instead of the ANF

Mark Fletcher on July 28, 2016 7:06 AM

I urge QLD newsagents to please complete and return the membership application to Lottery Agents Queensland.  LAQ is currently negotiating with Queensland Government officials, including Attorney General Yvette D’Ath, Golden Casket representatives, the shadow attorney general, the Katter party and other stakeholders to ensure a fairer deal for Queensland lottery agents.

Without membership support, LAQ will not have the weight to demand change. LAQ is the ONLY Queensland-based industry representative for lottery agents and holds ACCC authorisation. Without healthy membership, agents will have no voice on Queensland-specific issues.

Without LAQ intervention and representation, agents have no chance of better conditions.

It costs less than $1 a day to support the work of the LAQ. I think this is a good investment compared to investing money in the ANF.

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I think I just experienced the laziest retail sales person ever

Mark Fletcher on July 28, 2016 3:54 AM

I took my £75 worth of purchases to the counter of the specialty retail store in Manchester today. The person behind the counter was sloshed on a stool. I guessed they were doing something so I waited. After a minute or so they slapped their hand flat on the counter in front of them and said over here. I walked around the counter to face them. They rang up the sale while sitting. I only got a receipt and a bag when I asked. They put the bag on top of the purchases on the counter as they were distracted by a mate who called their name. They got off the stool and walked over to the mate and hugged.

I cannot recall a worse customer service experience in retail.

As they rang up the sale I figured they were unable to freely move on their legs. But the dash to their mate proved otherwise. I also thought they may not be a talker but the chat with their mate showed otherwise.

Retail is a people business. For almost everything available in retail shops there are alternative retailers. Customer service is a key differentiator.

If this was my shop there would be no stool behind the counter. I would make it my business to know the quality of service provided and I’d performance manage this person based on the experience today.

This business is relatively small but it is part of a national chain of 20 stores.

My experience tells me the manager of this store is not a good leader, not strong enough to combat laziness, not strong enough on basic retail principles to say no to a stool at the counter.

This experience as a customer reminded me of what bad customer service feels like. It have encouraged me to review leadership and processes back home to ensure our approach is best-practice.

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Aldi has magazines

Mark Fletcher on July 28, 2016 3:48 AM

The Aldi I checked out in Manchester has magazines, unlike Aldi stores in Australia. Here is the range I found near the checkout area:

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Crikey shines a light on low margin, low sellers in newsagencies

Mark Fletcher on July 27, 2016 3:37 PM

I am glad to have discussed the low margin we receive on print products, especially books supplied that are not a good fit with our businesses with a Crikey journalist recently. The Crikey piece was in their daily email plus it got good coverage on Twitter:

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Newsagents confronted with privacy requirements by Seven West Media

Mark Fletcher on July 27, 2016 5:48 AM

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 2.52.16 PMHome delivery newsagents in Western Australia last week received a letter from Seven West Media seeking their commitment to de-identify customer records from customers who lapsed five years or more ago.

This relates to newspaper home delivery data held by WA newsagents for West Australian customers.

To comply, newsagents will need to either manually remove customer records of old customers or have facilities in any software storing customer identifying data.

Besides the costs of compliance, there is a question about the five year age of identifying data and the ATO requirement of seven years for business records. ATO officers can go off-script when conducting an audit.

I have outlined to the Seven West Privacy Officer the challenges the requirement places on newsagents. Further discussions are to follow.

Good reading for newsagents on this topic can be found at the website of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

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A DIY way to get more impulse purchases of pens with crossword titles

Mark Fletcher on July 27, 2016 5:19 AM

Here is how the manager at one of my stores is leveraging pen and pencil purchases in the newsagency. I love it. They are using a bulldog clip to hold the pen / pencil container to the magazine fixture. Simple, easy.

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Here is a close-up I took to show the shelf connection.

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While this is not rocket science, a newsagent I mentioned this to Monday was surprised so I said I’d share the idea here.

I’d be happy to share other DIY ideas here if you want to send them in.

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Pitching Uncensored this Presidential election season

Mark Fletcher on July 27, 2016 5:14 AM

IMG_1386We are promoting the latest issue of Uncensored in the newsagency in time with the US Presidential election campaign. While the magazine content is not for me we didn’t want to get in the way of Donald Trump selling some extra magazines.

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Media Watch looks at women’s magazines

Mark Fletcher on July 26, 2016 8:57 AM

Click here to see the story on ABC TV’s Media Watch last night about women’s magazines.  Fascinating.

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Being connected matters

Mark Fletcher on July 26, 2016 4:59 AM

I am currently on a flight from Melbourne to Manchester via Dubai for a quick business trip. Thanks to in-flight internet access, I will not land at the other end to emails and messages. While it is important to turn off occasionally, it is even more important to be connected so business can continue regardless of where in the world you are.

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The blurring borders of retail channels

Mark Fletcher on July 26, 2016 4:56 AM

At the AFTA trade show for fishing and outdoors retailers on the Gold Coast on Sunday, my software company’s stand was next to the stand for Gibson, a gift supplier to newsagencies. The adjacency was a reminder of the blurring borders between retail channels.

Gibson has ranges of eyewear that are ideal for fishing and outdoor businesses. They work equally well in newsagencies in some location.

The experience was a reminder of why we are seeing products previously only in one channel appearing in other channels. The same is true for newsagencies as we carry products today that even last year had never been sold in a newsagency business.

I think the blurring of lines between retail businesses is good. It diversifies those businesses engaged and that strengthens them.

I certainly picked up some newsagency-relevant ideas from the AFTA show on the weekend.

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Launching Marvel Draw The Marvel Way part series

Mark Fletcher on July 26, 2016 4:38 AM

IMG_1382I expect strong interest in Draw The Marvel Way that launched yesterday. We have a ton of Marvel licenced gift, collectible and other product in-store plus there is the News Corp. promotion – so, between all this now is the time to do anything Marvel in the newsagency.

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Nostalgia sells in the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on July 26, 2016 4:27 AM

IMG_1381I like the Treasures From The Archives title under the AWW brand from Bauer.

I like it because I know nostalgia / vintage sells. I also like it because it connects with serval ranges in other departments in-store.

I’d love to see more one-shots like this one from several publishers – but not all at once. Exclusive to newsagencies though as only we have access to products to pitch with these opportunities.

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Newsagent exclusive: collectible Olympic pins

Mark Fletcher on July 25, 2016 6:38 AM

Launching Monday August 1, newsagents will be able to offer the first two of four Official Australian Olympic Pins. The pins will be available for $1 each with the purchase of New Idea, Who or That’s Life.

This is a newsagency channel exclusive promotion from Pacific Magazines.

I have a set of the pins. They are terrific quality. They are based on the boxing kangaroo character.

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Newsagents need to support this promotion 100%. All newsagents. Blanket support by our channel will demonstrate to Pacific Magazines and other suppliers the value of our channel.

I will have more to say in a few days about practical ways we can support this opportunity outside what is usual for newsagency businesses. However, start today by teasing the opportunity on Facebook. As this is exclusive it is a perfect opportunity to pitch the pins and the magazines they are purchased with.

I am grateful to Pacific Magazines for providing a set of pins and background information.

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Promoting the News Corp. Marvel campaign in the newsagency

Mark Fletcher on July 25, 2016 6:07 AM

IMG_1353 (1)On the Gold Coast yesterday I got to see how The Sunday Mail was using the front page of the newspaper to launch the Marvel promotion. The extraordinary coverage in this and other News Corp. papers for the promotion is is being greeted with cynicism by plenty of customers according to newsagents who contacted me over the weekend. One newsagent quoted a customer: Does Rupert really think a comic promotion will stop us noticing the price hike? Tell him he’s dreaming.

If this feedback is a common experience in newsagencies, News Corp. might be best advised to not time promotions such as this with cover price rises as the two separate activities. Promotions and price rises need not be linked in my view.

Here is the display I saw in one newsagency on the Gold Coast on the weekend. This space commitment is common in newsagencies, considerably more that you see in supermarkets that are part of the promotion.

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In addition to this newspaper stand display, there is this unit outside the entrance to the shop.

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There is no missing the promotion. Prime space out the front of the shop, on the front of store newspaper stand plus at the counter. This promotion is everywhere.

While I think the promotion is terrific in driving incremental newspaper purchases, I do not see how newsagents can make money out of it, not based on the margin from newspapers, not considering the value of the space allocated, the labour involved, the capital invested and the cost of shrinkage.

Considering all I saw in Queensland on the weekend – the freestanding unit out the front of the shop, the dressed up newspaper displays and the counter display – I think the stand outside the front of the store is the most important as this is the traffic driver for the business. Plus it is easily moved and it can take space that is otherwise not used.

But back to the key point I want to make – frustration newsagents are hearing from some customers about the cover price rise. This, tom me, is a challenge to be addressed as price rises will continue.

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→ 11 CommentsCategory: Newspaper marketing · Newspapers

Sunday newsagency challenge: test your backup

Mark Fletcher on July 24, 2016 5:47 AM

Take a moment and give the backup of your main business computer to an IT professional to check whether they can restore the backup and to see if it contains everything you need to get up and running. Check with your software company – they should offer this backup check service for free.

Almost once a week I hear of a newsagent losing days, weeks or even months of business data because they did not have a backup or their process was faulty.

Please act, to choose to not be the fool who loses business data.

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Sunday newsagency marketing tip: use a challenge to offer a reward

Mark Fletcher on July 24, 2016 5:42 AM

IMG_1257 (1)The sign I saw at the counter of the coffee shop I was in was simple and to the point.

The message was a challenge and opportunity. If you are not given a receipt, your order is free.

While this is not new marketing, the language they use is more fun than similar signs I have seen.

Dear coffee lover. Look over here. Can you see me? Awesome.

The sign has fun with an important goal for this business – to give a receipt for every transaction. This goal is important where the receipt is used for more than is traditional for a receipt. If the receipt has another marketing message you’d want to get it into the hands of as many as possible – as is the case with this business I visited last week.

I love their approach and that they have turned a business objective into a cool marketing engagement.

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Sunday newsagency management tip: bring character to your shop

Mark Fletcher on July 24, 2016 5:39 AM

IMG_1280I saw a shop a few days ago that used wine and champagne boxes as floorboards, bringing character and warmth to the shop. The feel was different to what you usually see in retail with real or fake wood planks or carpet. These flattened boxes looked terrific and  created a memorable business.

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Labor maintains key focus on small business following federal election

Mark Fletcher on July 23, 2016 4:59 PM

Labor has maintained its election campaign commitment to small business with the shadow minister for small business taking a position in the shadow cabinet. This is an important move as it makes a statement, it reflects action beyond the words of the election campaign. This is a difference to the downgrading of small business focus by the government.

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More newsagency businesses attacked by ransomware

Mark Fletcher on July 23, 2016 5:48 AM

More newsagency businesses have been attacked by ransomware this week – where computers were located out and a demand for payment made to unlock access.

The fastest way to recover from this situation is if you are using a professional cloud backup service that maintains a perpetually up to date backup without the business running and end of shift backup.

An end of shift backup will see you lose too much data.

No backup is plain stupid.

I urge newsagents to review their backup arrangements, to ensure their business data is protected in a way that reflects the value they place on their business data.

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I want to sell this pen in my newsagency

Mark Fletcher on July 23, 2016 5:37 AM

A pen that conducts electricity. Amazing!

Changing the definition of stationery.

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Stunning stationery in the UK

Mark Fletcher on July 23, 2016 5:34 AM

I love this range of stationery that is part of a broad and colourful range of stationery being pitched to retailers at the moment in the UK.

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Suppliers of stationery in Australia need to pitch more ranges like this to newsagents. With more WH Smith stores offering these products in Australia newsagents have to quickly catch up to play in this colourful stationery space.

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Bauer Reader Rewards could result in data being sent to Network Services

Mark Fletcher on July 22, 2016 1:04 PM

Re my earlier post about XchangeIT claiming newsagents are incorrectly sending sales data to the new closed Network Services. There is evidence the Bauer Reader Rewards barcodes that are required to be sold when redeeming magazines are resulting in sales data being sent to Network.

XchangeIT has advised that such instances are not part of their advice to newsagents of a problem. Evidence from some newsagents suggests otherwise.
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→ 1 CommentCategory: magazine distribution · Newsagency challenges · Newsagency management · Ugh!

Lotterywest to offer incentives and rewards to retailers

Mark Fletcher on July 22, 2016 7:41 AM

Lotterywest sent this email to retailers earlier this week. While the contents will be welcome, I suspect retailers would have likes Lotterywest to make this pitch long ago because the pressure of the refit and before online competition became so challenging.

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Does Officeworks have an exclusive ink deal that is anti-competitive?

Mark Fletcher on July 22, 2016 6:39 AM

A colleague newsagent yesterday was this week asked to supply a local business with ink. The opportunity hit a barrier when the newsagent discovered they could not source the ink they needed for the printer in use in the local business as the ink was only available from Officeworks.

It is frustrating when printer manufacturers launch new printers with an exclusive ink cartridge supply deal that forces shoppers to go back to the seller of the printer for a period of time.

This type of move cannot be good for competition as it provides the printer retailer, Officeworks maybe, a guarantee flow of shopper traffic. Where is the incentive to be competitive on price? Where is the Officeworks price guarantee in this?

Manufacturers and retailers committed to the best service and price for shoppers would ensure a genuinely open marketplace based on the principles of open competition.

Deals between printer manufacturers and retailers do not serve the customer, they do not serve an open and competitive marketplace.

Deals between printer manufacturers and retailers ought to be disclosed at the point of sale along the lines of:

CUSTOMER SERVICE NOTICE.

Buying this printer here locks you in to purchase ink from us for xxx months. You will not be able to purchase ink elsewhere. As we will be the only supplier of the ink, it will not be subject to our price guarantee. Indeed, price comparison will be impossible.

Thank you for shopping with us.

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MPA trial report released by ACCC and reveals little of value

Mark Fletcher on July 21, 2016 5:58 AM

Click here to access to report by Boston Analytics into the magazine distribution trial established by the MPA and run in selected newsagencies earlier this year to trial possible changes to the magazine supply model.

As I have written here, here and here (and more – search MPA at this blog) previously, the trial was flawed. It did not test a model that would serve the needs of newsagents and the majority of Australian magazine publishers.

A big challenge faced by publishers is the reduction in floorspace allocation for magazines in newsagencies. The MPA trial did not test any measures that would arrest floorspace allocation moves by newsagents. Further, everything changes when Network Services was closed earlier this year.

The solution as I see it for a bright future for magazines in newsagencies was outlined here in October last year where I urged magazine publishers to respect newsagencies as magazine specialists.

My proposal is simple – make newsagents the magazine specialists by only supplying them.

This single move, of choosing to place titles exclusively in the newsagency channel, would encourage newsagent support. I am not talking here about one or two titles. No, I am talking about hundreds of titles, popular titles, titles in the top 200 even. Place these exclusively in the newsagency channel and you change the game, you get the attention of newsagents, you push back against the supermarkets and you respect your product.

While I am confident that a bold move such as I outline here would benefit publishers and newsagents it would need careful negotiating, involving many titles and requiring thoughtful newsagent engagement. And, yes, there would need to be a discussion on margin. Rent and labour in retail are considerable expenses and titles not paying their way serve no purpose in any retail business. However, margin can be considered in various forms. For example, there could be a base stocking fee or some other levy to support the category.

If sought after product is only available in one channel then the two main parties to such a relationship, the publisher and newsagents, ought to benefit. We would have a shared commercial objective, far more so than exists today.

This call by me was published by industry journal Mumbrella. No publisher contacted me to discuss it.

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