Australian Newsagency Blog

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

Inviting magazine publishers to speak up about ignorant early return behaviour

Mark Fletcher on August 28, 2014 5:17 AM

I had a discussion with Terry Thelwell of Lovatts at the NANA Newsagent of the Year Awards in Sydney last week about the poor behaviour of some newsagents in early returning magazines. Terry and I have discussed this often and the data Lovatts has of newsagents early returning to a point where they have considerably less on the shelves than their usual sales of titles.

Lovatts is not alone experiencing ill-considered early returns where newsagents deny themselves sales they would have achieved. Many publishers have told me their stories and other stories about newsagents who then call saying they need more stock – because early returns too much stock.

The purpose of this post is to open the topic for magazine publishers to share their comments about early returns. Ideally, I’d like to see specific examples of where newsagents have hurt themselves through ill-considered early returns.

This is a serious topic because it could drive a self fulfilling prophecy about magazines in newsagencies. The poor behaviour of some could ultimately see a publisher or more flee our channel.

So publishers, share your stories…


→ 9 CommentsCategory: magazine distribution · Magazine oversupply · magazines

Credit Suisse on Tatts

Mark Fletcher on August 28, 2014 5:13 AM

Click here to read research issued August 21 into Tatts Group. Of most interest to newsagents will be the continued push by Tatts for lotteries sales online (page 3). Credit Suisse expects the online penetration to reach 15% by FY18.

There is also the comment about a new Tatts website launch next year that is expected to drive sales.

There is also commentary about a disconnect between agency commission revenue and overall Tatts lottery sales revenue – commission is growing slower.


→ No CommentsCategory: Lotteries

Fairfax mistake costs newsagents

Mark Fletcher on August 28, 2014 5:10 AM

Newsagents have received advice from Fairfax owned IPS that they have been incorrectly billing for Trader Tag magazine since August 2012, giving newsagents considerable more commission than should have been the case.

Without consultation or consideration Fairfax clawed back the commission.

The Fairfax handling of the matter has frustrated many newsagents and created difficulties for some. The company’s poor management of the situation and the lack of reasonable consideration has damaged their reputation.

While there is a case for Fairfax recovering some monies, given the timeframe involved I think some middle ground approach would have been appropriate. That the company acted and then explained is poor service. It gives newsagents another reason to consider closing their IPS account.


→ No CommentsCategory: Ethics · Newsagency management · Newspapers

Tomorrow’s news today at Coles Express Goondiwindi

Mark Fletcher on August 28, 2014 5:08 AM

colesgoonHere is the display of magazines at Coles Express in Goondiwindi. The photo was taken yesterday morning. Some of the titles in the photo were due to go on sale today.

The local newsagent received their stock early but did not put it out, respecting the contract. Coles, apparently, lives by a different set of rules.

Despite engagement by Network, Gotch, the ANF and me here and on Twitter (to which Coles responded), the magazines were still up at 4:15pm. Shame on you Coles.


→ 5 CommentsCategory: Ethics · magazines · Ugh!

Coles Goondiwindi breaches magazine on-sale obligations

Mark Fletcher on August 27, 2014 8:42 AM

The issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly due on sale tomorrow is already being sold at Coles Express Goondwindi this morning. If a newsagent did this they would be failed for selling a title before the on-sale. It’s frustrating that Coles appears to be getting away with this.

UPDATE: still on display at 4:15pm today – after both Gotch and Network were involved.


→ 7 CommentsCategory: Competition · magazines

Newsagents are responsible for business collapses and closures

Mark Fletcher on August 27, 2014 6:56 AM

quadrantIn Launceston Monday night I noticed that Quadrant News & Cards had closed. The empty shop with a For Lease sign is a sad sight.

It is easy to see this as a sign of the times, the decaying Aussie newsagency. But that would be wrong.

Quadrant News & Cards closed due to poor management. Plain and simple. All we owe the death of any business is the truth.

The truth is that this business was not well run. I will not go into details but I do know them

I have heard a few newsagents who have presided over newsagency business closures recently blame others: the landlord, their bank, staff, publishers. In most cases, the newsagent is to blame.

All of us need to own our situation. We need to be responsible for the decisions we have made and the decisions we make.

  1. Your landlord is charging the rent you agreed to.
  2. Your bank will chase you for debt you took on of your own free will.
  3. Your reliance on newspapers and magazines as a percentage of your overall revenue is up to you and business decisions you have made.
  4. Any decline in magazine sales is, primarily, your fault given how you range, display, promote and engage with magazines.
  5. Your staff are hired, trained, motivated and fired by you.
  6. The relevance of your business in a rapidly changing world is up to you.
  7. Your situation in relation delivery of newspapers is one you agreed to.
  8. The new traffic you attract to your shop is up to you.
  9. Your buying, pricing policies, merchandising … it’s all up to you.
  10. The relevance of your business to your local community … it’s up to you.
  11. Yes, this is your business.

Quadrant News & Cards in Launceston would be open today if the business had strong and committed management. It would be thriving if the owners had decided to stand for something rather than being an agent for what others told them to do.

There are too many newsagencies like Quadrant that have closed and too often the owners point the finger.

If you are contemplating closing your newsagency, if your debtors are threatening action consider taking ownership of your situation and developing a radical plan to lead your business out of the mess. It’s hard work but that’s what being a retailer (and not an agent) is all about.

If you are not contemplating closing and if your creditors are not chasing, you still need a radical plan to lead your business. We all do.

The plan starts with you looking at the business from the perspective of what is needed from today on and not from the perspective of what was done in the past.

The old way of running a newsagency is dead just as the old traditional newsagency focussing just on papers, magazines, cards, stationery and lotto is dead.

The story about the future of your newsagency is one you alone write.


→ 3 CommentsCategory: Newsagency management

Another local business closed temporarily

Mark Fletcher on August 27, 2014 6:40 AM

smallbusbreakFurther to my post yesterday and a last week about I saw another shop closed on Monday night in Launceston.

While I don’t know the circumstances, any shop closing for an extended period gives customers a message about priorities. It encourages them to shop elsewhere.

I am seeing closures such as this in small gift shops and toy shops. These are opportunities for us.


→ 1 CommentCategory: Customer Service · Newsagency management

I like this newspaper stand

Mark Fletcher on August 27, 2014 6:34 AM

virginpapersI like this newspaper stand being used at the Virgin terminal at Melbourne airport. It’s small footprint and strength are ideas for tactical placement in a newsagency – in different locations every few days chasing impulse purchases.

While designed to make The Australian the hero, it supports more titles in a three local paper town like Melbourne, Sydney and many regional locations.

Tactical placement of newspapers away from the usual newspaper location is one way we can help increase newspaper sales.


→ No CommentsCategory: Newspapers

Brilliant window display in Launceston

Mark Fletcher on August 27, 2014 6:29 AM

birchalls-jigsawCheck out the terrific window display at Birchalls in downtown Launceston. It speaks to range, fun and service. Jigsaw shoppers would feel they could find whatever they want. It’s an excellent example of how to use your window to attract shoppers.


→ 1 CommentCategory: visual merchandising

Free EFTPOS as a marketing pitch

Mark Fletcher on August 26, 2014 10:00 AM

eftpos-serviceI love this sign at Coffee Republic in Launcestion, Tasmania. While other coffee shops have a minima  spend for cards and some have a fee for EFTPOS, they have gone the other way, showing off a point of difference and giving customers another reason to love them. Based on their pricing I’d say they are funding it out of a higher than usual margin. But their coffee is the best in Launcestion so the price could more reflect than than to hide their EFTPOS fees.

It’s refreshing seeing a sign in a retail business telling you what you can do rather than what you can’t, a sign saying things here are free where usually there is a sign saying the same things cost extra.

Nice.  If you’re ever in Launceston, try their coffee … it’s excellent.


→ 3 CommentsCategory: Customer Service

Would you close for a family wedding?

Mark Fletcher on August 26, 2014 5:22 AM

smallbustimeoffFurther to my post ten days ago about a business closing to give the owner a break, I noticed at the weekend a cafe with this sign in the window. The cafe was closed for the wedding of the owner’s daughter.

On reflection, small independent retailer businesses should not close for a holiday or to attend a family wedding.

When we open our businesses we do so to serve the community. We want them to rely on us. One way we do this is through consistent behaviour. Breaking that consistency even for a special family engagement tells locals they are not as important. Whether we like it or not, plenty of shoppers will thing they are more important that us. Indeed, if we run the ideal busyness that’s how it will be.

Closing gives people an opportunity to try elsewhere. It invites them to do this.

No matter what the cost or challenge small and independent retailers need to remain open.


→ 7 CommentsCategory: Management tip · Newsagency management · Social responsibility

Promoting Rolling Stone off-location

Mark Fletcher on August 26, 2014 5:13 AM

magsrstoneWe have been promoting the latest Rolling Stone magazine with magazines that we think are likely to be purchased by fans of Lana Del Ray. Placing a title like this issue of Rolling Stone off-location based on the cover works in driving incremental sales. Try it.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazines

Promoting 2015 Astro Diaries

Mark Fletcher on August 26, 2014 5:10 AM

magsstarsWe have the 2015 Astro Diary range being promoted with magazines and specifically with Yen, Frankie, Peppermint and the like. The look and feel of the diaries suggests that those buying these magazines are the target shopper for the diaries. We are using the shelf above the magazines for the promotion.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazines

If you rip cash out of your newsagency…

Mark Fletcher on August 25, 2014 1:30 PM

The ATO is targeting small businesses in a clamp down on the cash economy according to media reports over the weekend and today.

Using a range of tools and benchmarks, the ATO plans to make the point that those ripping cash out undetected will be detected.

In the 1990s newsagents were in target of the ATO because of a reported systematic approach to under reporting tax. There was a meeting at the ATO office in Box Hill where AFP, SRO, ATO and other government departments were represented in an investigation of the systematic approach. While nothing public came of that meeting, the activity engaged in appeared to disappear for a time. That’s what happens when there is public awareness around an investigation.

I was not a target of the 1990s investigation. My involvement was to bring people to the room who could explain how other software could be used to commit tax fraud.

If you take cash out of your business be aware that the ATO has a range of means through which to detect this. The likelihood of being caught is greater today than in the 1990s.


→ 12 CommentsCategory: Ethics

Products can be more important than the newsagency shingle in attracting shoppers

Mark Fletcher on August 25, 2014 6:50 AM

bigwatchThese oversize watches, standing a metre tall, have worked a treat attracting shoppers, getting them thinking of the business differently than would be usual for a newsagency shingle.

The watches are a perfect example of the value of using products as a shingle with which to attract shoppers than the shingle itself.

People smile when they see the watches. Kids drag their parents in.

The shingle Newsagent or Newsagency is burdened by history and the performance of others whereas these oversized watches represent fun and get people in without the bias or expectation of the shingle.

Sometimes, what we stock and how and where we place it can me more important than the name of the business stuck above our front door.

These big watches say something about the newsagency that could not be easily pitched in marketing.

Smart buying and good merchandising are activities we need to view as an extension of our business marketing.


→ No CommentsCategory: Fun · Gifts

Some newsagency customers frustrated with bonus DVD coupon

Mark Fletcher on August 25, 2014 6:36 AM

misseddvdWhile I understand the purpose of the bonus DVD coupon in the Sunday Herald Sun yesterday, the coupons is only of value if there are stocks of the DVDs in circulation. I felt for the customer who said they have been to ten newsagencies that morning, four were closed, looking for the one DBD they had missed in the series. There’s got to be a better supply model. It starts with retail newsagents having absolute control over their supply through a direct relationship with the publisher.

It’s terrific that this is a newsagency focussed promotion. Let’s work on the back end to make it work better for newsagents and customers in the future – to maximise sales.


→ 3 CommentsCategory: Newspapers

Dreadful promotion of homes+ by Coles

Mark Fletcher on August 25, 2014 6:33 AM

coleshomesplusBauer Media better not be paying Coles a premium to promote the launch issue of homes+ magazine. On the weekend I noticed this floor display unit placed at the checkout which is locked and used a clutter storage space in a busy inner city Coles location. It’s probably the worst location in this particular Coles supermarket.


→ No CommentsCategory: Competition · magazines

Promoting Doctor Who partwork

Mark Fletcher on August 25, 2014 6:30 AM

drwholaunchWith Doctor Who media coverage and social media interest at fever pitch we are making the most of the first issue of the Doctor Who partwork with placement in the aisle where Doctor Who titles are usually located. We are also pitching this launch issue in two other locations.

This launch is helping with and benefiting from all our other Doctor Who products.


→ 6 CommentsCategory: magazines · partworks

The easy to merchandise gift with purchase

Mark Fletcher on August 25, 2014 6:28 AM

magsgfgiftThe pendant Peppermayo pendant with the latest issue of Girlfriend magazine is the ideal gift with purchase. It does not challenge space or make the pocket look untidy, it’s an ideal gift for those buying the title and it’s placed to enhance rather than detract from the cover. we have this issue in a couple of locations to leverage it.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazines

Men’s Health ideal for Father’s Day

Mark Fletcher on August 25, 2014 6:25 AM

manshfdayWe have Men’s Health magazine being pitched with Father’s Day cards by placing the Win a $5000 Shopping Spree stand next to our Father’s day card display at the front of the newsagency. the placement is worth more than this as magazine shoppers notice the Father’s Day cards as much as card shoppers notice the magazines.


→ No CommentsCategory: Gifts · Greeting Cards

Sunday newsagency marketing tip: embrace seasonal opportunities

Mark Fletcher on August 24, 2014 6:31 AM

fdseasonMajor seasons provide newsagents with excellent marketing opportunities.

Take Father’s Day. I’m told that more than 50% of Father’s Day cards will be purchased in newsagencies.

Our success with Father’s Day will depend on how we promote the opportunity inside and outside our businesses, the gifts we offer for add-on purchases and how we leverage the Father’s Day traffic for other purchases.

Your Father’s Day sales should be up this year on last. I’d suggest a 5% increase is reasonable. Hopefully, it will be considerably more.

While some newsagents will act more like agents and and probably have an average or worse year, others have been actively and aggressively promoting the season with a broader range of products than last year – chasing double digit growth. These latter newsagents are retailers.

With this season we will get new customers in our business and return visits from infrequent shoppers. Give them a reason to spend more this visit, give them a reason to come back, get their details for future marketing, show them yours is not a traditional newsagency they only visit for major seasons.

This Father’s Day season and other major seasons like it are an opportunity to reset how people see your newsagency. Embrace it. Use this season as a key marketing activity for your business.  However, you need to back it up with a genuinely different, exciting and memorable experience – one that works for you long beyond the season itself.


→ No CommentsCategory: marketing · marketing tip · newsagency marketing

Sunday newsagency management advice: manage customer accounts with care

Mark Fletcher on August 24, 2014 6:24 AM

The local newsagency is one of the few businesses where a customer can open an account without providing a personal guarantee or going through any form of credit check.

Too often I see newsagency businesses where there is little or no management of these accounts. Here are my suggestions for best practice customer account management:

  1. Have all customers complete an account application form with verified address details.
  2. Get from all account customers a copy of their driver’s licence showing their address. Keep this on file.
  3. If they are making a regular purchase, ask their first few transactions to be paid for at the time of purchase as good faith.
  4. If they are making a special order, request either a deposit or full up front payment if you are unable to return the goods they have requested.
  5. Request all orders be in writing so you have evidence of the order.
  6. Include an invoice with all goods supplied.
  7. Provide a statement monthly with your trading terms clearly indicated.
  8. Know what money you make on everything – accounts cost money and this needs to be considered if you are also giving an account customer a discount.

Tight account management sends a message to your customers and your employees about th professionalism of the business. The more professional you are the less likely anyone will steal from you.


→ No CommentsCategory: Management tip · Newsagency management

Promote Time magazine with your weeklies

Mark Fletcher on August 24, 2014 6:20 AM

magstimewilliamsWe have placed this week’s Time magazine with the weeklies because of the Robin Williams cover story. Those most likely to purchase this issue on impulse would not go looking for it elsewhere in the magazine department – hence our tactical placement.

Tactical placement of a magazine title based on the cover story is the single most effective way to achieve incremental sales – more so than the billboards type display publishers prefer.


→ No CommentsCategory: magazines · Tactical display

Promoting The Saturday Paper and other circ. products to drive traffic

Mark Fletcher on August 23, 2014 2:36 PM

fossatpaperToday we are promoting The Saturday Paper on the lease line, facing into the mall along with the Herald Sun, the new Doctor Who partworks and the latest Better Homes and Gardens.

I setup the display to leverage interest in the Robin Williams story in The Saturday Paper. It’s a different take on a major story. I figured the poster is what would attract people. I then selected other products for the stand based on what a Saturday shopper could purchase.

This is not a permanent front of store display – just for this weekend. We change the front of our newsagency weekly.


→ 1 CommentCategory: newsagency marketing · Newspapers

Beware of paying for likes, friends and links

Mark Fletcher on August 23, 2014 9:31 AM

With more newsagents relying on Google, Facebook, Twitter and other search engine and social media platforms to drive traffic, there his a temptation to get attention, numbers and followers by paying a service to achieve this for you. My advice – don’t! Paid for eyeballs are of no benefit to your business.

Paid for links to drive traffic to your blog or business website will be seen what what they are. Google and others will mark you down and your competitors will see how desperate you are to get attention.

The most important likes, friends, visits and links you can get are those achieved naturally and because of the good content you provide.


→ No CommentsCategory: Ethics · Social Media